Since the cool snap arrived, I have heard one statement over and over again from just about everyone I bump in to. Curious what they are saying?
It’s no secret to me because – hot, warm or cold – I say it all the time: “We are so lucky to live in this beautiful place.”
Maybe it’s the clear air and cool breeze that makes those words flow so easily right now. And I must say that everything, including the bright green marsh grass and palmettos swaying in the breeze, has a vibrancy that they didn’t have two weeks ago.
Usually, I wait until October to say this, but if you haven’t been out on the water lately then you are missing out on some of the finest foraging of the year.
A couple of weeks ago, I decided to give deep dropping for shrimp a try. I called my friend Will “Catfish” Thompson, with whom I shrimp every year. Catfish will throw a cast net all day long and my forte is finding the shrimp on my depth finder.
Deep dropping is nothing more than throwing a cast net into water that can be up to 50 feet deep.
As for the net used, duct tape is placed approximately six inches up from the weights along the edge and goes around the entire circumference of the net. When the net is thrown, the tape acts like a parachute and makes the net open fully as it goes down.
Off we went. Since it had been a year since the last time we tried this, all I could do was guess where these little buggers were hanging out. Stopping at one spot, I saw what looked like shrimp on my sonar but after one throw it was apparent they were nothing but small shrimp and bait fish.
It took us three different stops to finally find the shrimp and it was the Mother Lode. Once on them, Catfish was an animal! You don’t always hit them like this so when it does happen, it’s like some primal urge takes over and all you can think is “more shrimp, more shrimp.” In no time we had our limit and with smiles all around we headed in.
There is one part about all of this that simply blows my mind. If you are familiar with our local waters, you know there are thousands of creeks and inlets, and every one of them is packed with shrimp of all sizes.
Around now, the shrimp begin their long trek to the open ocean. Just imagine how many shrimp there must be. It has to be in the upper millions, maybe even billions, and they are out there just crawling along the bottom with instinct as their only guide.
Maybe this image doesn’t have any affect on you, but for me it is absolutely amazing.
Another adventure I took recently was with a friend from Asheville, North Carolina. He really wanted to go fishing. Primarily a freshwater guy, he only reiterated my love for this place. From catching bait with a cast net and seeing all the life around us, he was totally taken aback by the beauty of this place we live in.
The wind was howling, but being one of those people that nearly always says “yes” even when I should say “no,” we went.
It was low tide or redfish time, so I went to the only place I knew where we would have the wind at our backs. As the tide began to drift in, all hell broke loose. We had three rods out and all three went down at once. All but one were redfish – big redfish – while the third rod had something odd attached to it.
I saw something jump in the air where that bait had been sitting but it wasn’t until my friend grabbed that rod that I realized what it was. It was a nice tripletail and it was going nuts. After boating all three fish, the redfish kept on coming. I am not sure how many we caught but only one was a keeper while all the rest were way too big.
Moving to another spot, I swapped out rigs and bait, now live finger mullet, in hopes of getting a flounder or two. On his second cast, the cork disappeared the moment it hit the water. The way it fought made me think it was another redfish, but it wasn’t until he got it near the boat that I saw it was a huge flounder. Though I didn’t weigh it, my guess was around 7 pounds. And that, my friends, is what we call a “doormat” flounder.
My friend told me that this had been the best day he had ever had on the water, and then he said it: “You are so darn lucky to live here!” All I could do was smile, because that is something I say to myself each and every day of the year.
Collins Doughtie, a 60-year resident of the Lowcountry, is a sportsman, graphic artist, and lover of nature. firstname.lastname@example.org