Cast & Blast

The thought of blue fin tuna helps to lighten Lowcountry fisherman’s ‘winter blahs’

Collins Doughtie
Collins Doughtie

It seems that more and more I get blasted when I complain about having the “winter blahs.”

It has taken me a lot of long and hard thinking to figure out why I don’t get any sympathy until I realized that many of you came here from the north and to you our winter here is nothing at all. Even yesterday, as I was layered up and walked into Home Depot, I noticed half the shoppers there were wearing nothing but t-shirts and shorts. Man, did I feel like a sissy.

As long as the sun is shining, I can handle it but on chilly gray overcast days, all I want to do is pull a blanket over my head and hibernate until the sun once again peeks through. For all you snowbirds, I have but one question and do your best to answer honestly: Haven’t you noticed on those gray overcast days that birds, squirrels and other critters are nowhere to be found? It’s deadly quiet out there. But just as soon as the clouds clear out, nature once again comes alive. So there is my defense since in a strange (and often disputed) way I, too, am part of nature.

So why am I bringing up such a downer subject?

Blame it on my daughter, Dr. Camden Brown who resides in Charlottesville, Va. Almost daily, she calls begging that she and I take a short vacation to somewhere warm and sunny. The Florida Keys maybe, the Bahamas possibly or even as far away as Costa Rica. Having been raised in the sunny south before going through Boston winters as she finished her Harvard career and then on to Charlottesville, she is becoming increasingly desperate for sunny days and warm breezes.

I tell her it’s simply the “winter blahs” and that I, too, get them and until we can figure out a place to go, she needs to get up in her attic and retrieve that light she purchased in Boston that helps people who suffer from SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder.

As for myself, I have so many disorders what’s one more added to the list?

As you might imagine, January and February are always the toughest months for me writing about fishing and the great outdoors since very little is going on. I will say it’s a great time to fix all the junk that breaks on your boat during the hardcore fishing season that should include a tune-up, changing filters, zincs and lower unit oil.

But just when I was about to resort to giving instructions on how to thread a worm on a hook or some equally ridiculous subject matter, something happened on my way in from the Gulf Stream last week that has everyone all fired up.

It was getting late in the day, the ocean was flat calm and as I was about twenty miles or so off Hilton Head, I saw huge black spots all around me. It was massive schools of bait but since it was late, I didn’t slow down to see what kind of bait it was.

For me at least, it was an extremely rare sight this time of year but one fish came to mind that was probably pushing these tightly packed balls of bait to the surface — blue fin tuna!

I have tangled with these giants several times and really have no desire to fight a 400-800 lb. tuna again, but it is so cool they are here.

The next day I heard I wasn’t the only one to see blue fin. Now, many of my friends are suffering from full-blown blue fin-mania. These giants come as close as 6-8 miles off the beach this time of the year and though I have tried for them here, I have yet to hook one.

All my previous blue fin encounters were off the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Thankfully these beauties are strictly managed with special permits required out the yazoo and, even if I were to catch one, I would probably release it. Their numbers are being decimated.

Here is a fish that migrates from our coastline all the way to the Mediterranean so in my book that makes them super special.

Yahoo for Wahoo

The 2019 South Carolina Wahoo Series is a go.

The captain’s meeting is from 1-4 p.m. Saturday, January 26 at the Skull Creek Dockside Restaurant.

A big time tournament, this year you will be able to fish any three days between February 8-April 27.

One wahoo per trip may be weighed in and at its finale, the two heaviest fish aggregate weight wins.

And as I have said many times before, WAHOO!