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A steady diet of outdoors hobbies can ward off retirement blues

I have progressed into my second week of retirement with few consequences. In itself this may be of little circumstance. However, with the desire to protect myself from decline and ultimate obscurity, there will be things I will continue and others that will be left behind.

I will continue to work at my leisure on those items I feel relevant to my state of health and well-being: my weekly outdoors column, wood carving, rod and reel repairs, art and reading. And of course, fishing, hunting and various outdoor interests.

All this gives me hope that my season of melancholy will give way to a time of joy.


Among those interests that will remain dominant will be my exploration of new and different fishing techniques. While there are a number of successful methods that target individual species, there will be times you will encounter unproductive periods.

One of my favorite targets is spottail bass, a species worthy of pursuit. No matter what moniker you deem appropriate -- spottail, red drum, channel bass, redfish or puppy drum -- they are all the same and are excellent table fare.

When bass are in a feeding frenzy they are easily taken on anything you toss in front of them. When you have to spend your time searching, the game changes.

One sure way of locating them is by trolling, a method seemingly lost in time. When I first arrived in the Lowcountry, I reverted back to the only technique I knew from fishing large lakes and reservoirs in Tennessee and Kentucky, which was trolling.

Spoons are my lure of choice when I am trolling for spottail bass. They come in a variety of sizes, weights and various garnishments, and while not all will produce, many of the more popular will fill your quota. My favorite lure for trolling the species is a No. 19 Pet, but Drones and the smaller Hopkins also work.

I favor a longer feather than is standard, so I make a few changes from my fly-tying materials to suit the need. Red feathers are among the most prevalent, but I prefer yellow or white and make modifications to the hook attachment to accommodate. My color choice for the spoon is gold or copper. A combination of both can be obtained by adding a spinner blade or bit of flash.

Another critical factor I have found is the method of attaching the spoon to your leader.

Many anglers tie directly to the spoon, but I do things a bit different. I tie my leader to the spoon and attach a black swivel to a trolling sinker with a snap swivel. You can gauge the weight needed for your sinker by trolling slowly with a good bit of line behind the boat.

Once you have a trolling speed that allows your sinker to just bump the bottom, you are set. Spottail will target flashes in the water, and with your weight bumping the bottom, enough commotion has been generated to bring them to hook.

Many anglers use light tackle while trolling, but extended fight times reduce the chances of the fish's survival. For this reason I prefer tackle in the 30-pound test range, which helps in the practice of catch and release.


If you don't have a scale but want to do more than estimate your fish's weight, use the following formula: Length (inches) times Girth (inches) times Girth (inches) divided by 800 equals weight (pounds).