On Our Way to Okeechobee
We woke up around 4:45am and headed west. We would be putting in on the southern end of the lake in a town called Clewiston. Since it was so early it was of course dark, but I as we approached the town of Clewiston I could smell the smell of smoke. I asked Matt what that smell was and he said “Oh that’s the Sugar Cane farms, they burn the sugar during some part of their harvesting process”. It was interesting to smell that smell for a good ways, but yet not be alarmed that something was on fire or wrong. Late on in the day we found out that the sugar cane farmers actually burn the fields before they even harvest the sugar. The sugar cane fields spanned for miles and miles and miles. It was a neat sight.
Roland Martin Marina & Marine Center
We were set to meet our guide, Mark King, at the Roland Martin Marina. Once we started getting near the landing you could see the Christmas light decorations that were in the shape of a bass hanging in the streets.
Of course as “foreigners” we didn’t know which was the Marine Center and which was the Marina, but we learned pretty quickly. We went inside and saw several boats, tons of fishing lures, hats/shirts, and just about anything you could think of. Roland Martin’s name was everywhere and the marina had about what you would expect as well. There were restaurants, boats, weekend rental apartments, tiki bars, and of course fish on the walls and they even had 2 swimming in a tank.
Mark King, Bass Fishing Guide
We met the guide Matt lined us up with, Mark King, at the Marina. Mark was a very nice guy who definitely knows how to bass fish and he knows that lake like the back of his hand. Mark’s been guiding for 18 years and has all the accompanying honors and accolades that anybody would want a guide to have. Learn more about Mark’s guiding service at http://markkingfishing.com
Mark didn’t waste any time and we all hopped into his boat, which he already had waiting on us in the water. We rode through the locks and around the edge of the lake as the sun was rising. It was a beautiful sight.
Grass Paths in The Lake
Mark then made a left turn ducking into the grassy reeds of the lake. One thing I noticed throughout the day of fishing was the grass or weeds that were in the water. Of course I’ve seen grass in a lake before, but the lake had a lot of these on the edges and the paths that the boats ride leave carved out tunnels of sorts that were like hidden paths to bass hotspots if you will. I’d never really thought much about it, but these weeds or reeds were something that stuck out to me about the lake and when I think of Lake Okeechobee I’ll envision the grass in my mind. Anyways, we rode through these carved channels and we were head to a specific destination. I had the feeling that Mark knew these paths just as good as I know my way to some of my deer stands.
The Fish Were Biting
We got to our first stop and it wasn’t long before we had fish biting. We were using live bait, minnows, for our bait and they worked really well. I’d say we’d been stopped for about 5 minutes before we had corks going under. Mark told us to wait until the cork went under, count down from 5, then set the hook. This was obviously to let the bass get the minnow in their mouths really good before we set the hook. Even though we definitely wanted to let the bass get ahold of the minnows really well before setting the hook, you could see your cork darting off back toward the depths of the grassy weeds. It worked on my nerves a little bit to have a bass on and let him run back into that stuff, but I trusted the guide!
We set up right on the edge of the grassy reeds and would throw right out beside them. In every spot we fished in it wasn’t long before a bass would come out of that stuff and hammer the bait. We probably caught 15 bass the entire day and we constantly had action. There may have been a few minutes of lulls in action, but just as soon as I would turn around to look at something Mark would say “You’re down” and boom we’d have a fish in the boat.
Every fish we caught was healthy and nicely sized. We didn’t catch any state records, but we caught a nice mess of fish. One thing Mark told me was that the entire lake was only about 5 feet deep. I figured it would be deeper, but it wasn’t. Because it’s not that deep a lot of the boats there have unique anchoring systems called the “Power Pole” http://www.power-pole.com. You may be familiar with that type of anchor, but I wasn’t. I’m used to just throwing out something heavy and waiting until it hits the bottom.
Here are a few pics of fish we caught:
We Had a Blast
Needless to say, my friend Matt and I had a great time. We enjoyed being out on the lake and Mark was definitely effective as a fishing guide. I hope to be able to get back down there and fish with him again at some point. If you’re ever down in that area, be sure to give Mark and shout and tell him that you read about him here. You won’t be disappointed!
In the first blog entry of this series I detailed the theme of this blog series and mentioned that Blakely Byrd was going to be my guide. There are 2 sides to every story and one reason Blakely is helping me out chasing turkeys this spring is because she happens to like fish and is interested in fishing with me on one of my upcoming trips on the coast. The fishing trip on the coast leads me to the next item I’d like to share and that is to give a shout out to my friend Ja Malphrus.
Ja happens to own a guide service and is great fishing guide. I met Ja a year ago down in Beaufort, SC and he took me and some of my friends out to catch some red fish. It was a first for me something I've always wanted to do. Ja knew what he was doing cause he really put us on the fish. It was an enjoyable experience and I've already booked a few trips this year… one of which includes Blakely because she is, as you read in the first entry in this series, helping me to hopefully bag my first turkey. Hopefully we’ll have a successful spring in the field and then another successful fishing trip as well! So if you’re thinking about catching some reds look my friend Ja up and tell him Robbie sent ya.
More About Ja and his Fishing Charters
Shore Thang Charters is a fishing adventure that starts in the backwaters of Hilton Head Island and Beaufort. Ja has a 18 foot Maverick Master Angler edition that can fish three anglers on a sturdy platform as well as stay dry if we were to come across rough conditions.
In the low-country the season is the determining factor on what species of fish will be biting. No matter what time of year redfish are always the main sought after species. Trout and Flounder are highly sought after as well in spring, summer, and fall. The Port Royal Sound has one of the largest cobia runs on the east coast that generally starts in mid-April and runs until mid-June and the tarpon run starts right after that from July to October.
The Hilton Head and Beaufort area provides an outstanding fishery with something different to explore every time you get out on the water. You can find me on Youtube and you can also check my website out at ShoreThangChartersHHI.com. Along with the fishing, we also offer quail and turkey hunting at Old House Club which is located just 20 minutes away from both Beaufort and Hilton Head just outside of Ridgeland. We do quail hunts for up to 4 guns, morning or afternoon, and our turkey hunts usually just two hunters at the time.
Below are some pictures from my last fishing trip with Ja
For as long as I can remember, I have always had a passion for fishing. This passion was instilled in me by my Dad who got me involved in the sport at a very early age. I was lucky to have a small pond located on the family farm. I can only imagine the number of times that I cast a line across that pond. Millions of memories fill my head of those days. Let me see if I can paint a picture with words of just a few of them.
The sun peeked over the horizon and transformed my bedroom walls from baby blue to bright orange. The chirping of the robins in the yard signaled that the days were getting longer and warmer. One deep breath of the spring morning air and I was up and at 'em. The one thing on my mind was getting Dad's shovel and finding a few worms to dangle in the small pond that sat within view of my bedroom window. When I think of fishing, I often think of those mornings of spring fishing fever.
Dad always found time to take me on an adventure to the family pond. In my younger days, Dad and I would grab the cane poles and dig a few worms from the pasture behind the house. Then we would set off for an hour or two of fishing. The trek to the pond was an adventure in itself. A long winding trail sliced through a thick forest of oaks and pines. One day that is etched into my memory is a day in which I persuaded Dad to let me ride on his shoulders. We headed down the path humming a tune that Dad made up and singing a song from the "Wizard of Oz"..Lions, Tigers, and Bears 'Oh My'. Well, lets just say at about the time my Dad said "Bears", a snake decided to show his head on the trail. I think my Dad hit mach two and lost his shoes. I'm not sure how I stayed on his shoulders. I never cross that spot on the trail without thinking of that day.
My fishing memories of that pond are endless. These memories include the early years of chasing tadpoles and minnows to more recently watching my son catch his first fish. I used to pretend to be Hank Parker. I would set up a scenario which put me a fish down with only a few minutes remaining in the Bassmasters Classic. I seemed to always find a way to catch that fish. Whether it took me a few hours or not. As I got older, I would always try out new baits in the pond. I can remember catching two bass with one cast on a new rattletrap. I was amazed. I learned to throw a baitcaster, tie different knots, site fish, fish topwater baits, fish the carolina rig, and on and on and on.
As I look back on those memories, I understand now the impact that being outside and with my Dad had in my life. Now that I'm a Dad, I try to strive to teach my son those same things. Take a kid fishing because maybe that one memory will turn into a million.
Below is a video of my son catching a bass out of the pond I grew up fishing. Do you have a favorite spot that fills your head with memories?
This is a video of a few bass we caught several weeks ago at a pond in Chester. I'll provide a little breifing on the day but I'll keep it short and let the video speak for itself. A few friends and I decided to give the kayaks another try at this pond a few weeks ago. If you read my blog Kayaking for Lunkers you know that we landed a few big bass out of this pond back in March. Back in March the fishing was slow but the fish were big. On this day the fishing had picked up but most of the fish that we caught were what I like to refer as crumb-snatchers. We did manage to pull in a nice three pounder though. Check out the video! It was a beautiful morning and I was glad I got to spend it fishing with great friends. Hope you enjoy.
An old oak stump looked like a good hiding spot for a big bass waiting on an easy meal on this brisk day. It looked so good that the three of us fishing threw to it time after time. After about twenty casts to the stump one more wouldn't hurt would it? Absolutely not! My black shad Culprit worm sailed through the March wind like an eagle diving down to catch a summer trout. It landed softly on the bank padded by a layer of oak leaves. One twitch and it slivered into the cold water. At that instant a swirl of the water signaled that this Culprit was in trouble. A couple more twitches and then a sudden thump. An easy pull on the rod to get the slack out and then I dropped the hammer. No doubt that this was going to be one to talk about.
I'll pause the story for a split second to give you some insight on why this was going to be an even better fight. We were fishing in kayaks! If you've never done this I would definitely give it a try. It takes a little while to get used to it but once you do it is a blast. When you're on the water it almost feels like you're floating. Imagine sitting at water level with an eight pound bass tail-walking across the water and pulling you around like an Alaskan tugboat. Good Stuff!
Back to the story. I set the hook and the fight was on. I recall Eric saying "Man what do you have?" I just knew it was big. Back and forth like Ali and Frazer we went. Eric eased his kayak over to stabilize mine. After what seemed an eternity the bass surfaced and I lipped it with the quickness. As I pulled the bass up the hook fell out. Talk about just in the nick of time. Did I mention that this was the second lunker of the day!?
Although the day was slow it was definitely productive. We caught three nice fish. Eric and I caught eight pounders and Eric's nephew, Alan, caught a four pounder. The water was a little stained from the recent rains so black seemed to be the most productive color. Eric was fishing a texas rig black Zoom Finesse worm and I was fishing a black shad Culprit with a shaky head jig. As noted in the story the fish were on the bank but you had to be patient. We would hit a spot over and over. I'd say it worked out. Check out the video. Who else enjoys hooking big bass?
When I was growing up I went fishing and hunting a lot with many different people. Jason Love was one of my good friends who I spent a lot of time with out on the water and in the woods and this past weekend we made a ?throwback? fishing trip out on the Wateree. We looked forward to catching up and hanging out and thought that maybe we?d catch some fish as well.
This trip with Jason was different from the ones of the past because we weren?t borrowing Mr. JE?s boat, the paddles had been traded in for motors (one of the front and one on the back), the rods, reels, and tackle seemed more abundant than it was back in the day! It soon became obvious that Jason?s knowledge and fishing intuition had gotten better as well. Oh and we both were just a few pounds heavier, but nevertheless just as good looking even though our hair is now racing toward our necks! We were going to have a good day whether a fish bit or not. I wasn?t prepared for what would happen shortly after we got anchored.
We headed out to Lake Wateree and got there before daylight. Of course we started the morning off right with a Bojangles biscuit and we were set to go. We got the boat in the water and then went and caught some ?Gizzard shad? with a throw net. Mixed in with the shad was the occasional crappie, one of which was pretty nice size. We got a good number of these small fish in the boat, put them in a zip lock bag, and used them as bait for the rest of the day.
After we caught the bait we headed out to deeper water. Jason really had a good feel for the lake and the depth finder helped us navigate the lake and see the topography of the bottom of the lake. It also showed us where some fish were too! There was a storm front moving into the area and the wind was blowing really badly. We put an anchor off the front side of the boat and one off the back end and got stabilized. Jason cut some bait up and one by one he cast 6 rods out and placed them in rod holders along the edges of the boat. I was sitting in the back and Jason was in the front. We had anchored in about 18 feet of water along a slope leading into the river channel. Off the front side of the boat was deeper water?about 25 feet deep? and off the back it was about 13 feet deep. We had hoped to fish in both shallow and deep water and find some fish moving in one of the two areas.
We finally got situated and were sitting in the chairs just waiting. I started asking Jason questions about random things and I imagined we would be sitting there for a while so I was ready to talk about life and solve all the world?s problems. I imagine you may have solved a few while out on the water as well. I didn?t even get to start on a conversation good when the rod to my right almost doubled over under the boat. The ?Ugly Stick? took a very quick dive down as something on the other end had smashed it and was pulling very hard. Jason immediately jumped up and said ?Big fish Clint, big fish.? I grabbed the rod out of the holder and started reeling. No I didn?t set the hook because that?s not how we do it catfishing. I got him on?then I set the hook and I started pulling. The fish made several ?power surges? towards the bottom. Jason was over my shoulder coaching me through it the whole way ?Keep the line tight? keep tension on him? you got him?! I sat down so that I could dig the pole into my hip and use it for leverage. The fish made another surge downward and my wrist felt the pressure. I had to ?choke up? on the rod just like you ?choke up? on a bat in little league. I had to get better leverage on whatever was pulling so hard on the line. We had a battle for what seemed like forever, but it was probably only a couple of minutes. I was hoping to land that rascal because I?ve caught fish before, but nothing this big.
Eventually the fish got tired and I brought him to the top?he was huge! Jason had the net and was trying to net him and missed on the first pass. Initially I wasn?t sure if the net was big enough, but it was and Jason scooped the fish up on the second pass and got him in the boat! I just smiled and let a big sigh of relief. I had just boated the biggest fish of my life and we hadn?t even been out there anchored more than 15 minutes. So we broke out the cameras and video and took some pics and then weighed the fish. He wouldn?t hold still at first to get an accurate weight, but after he settled down he was 30.6 lbs and was hard to hold. After we weighed him we threw him back! Yes, we threw it back? (Don?t tell Big Richard or he?ll be mad at me). We weren?t keeping any fish and wanted to ?let him go so he can grow? even bigger. Maybe one of you will catch him later on. It was a really neat experience and one I won?t forget.
We fished on throughout the rest of the day moving to different locations and we caught several more fish, but none compared to the size of that first one. It was a good day out on the water and one I won?t be forgetting!
Below is a video I put together of the trip
In the most recent news and events we?ve seen how countries in the Middle East have used, and are using, Twitter, Facebook, & YouTube to organize, communicate, and overthrow governments, regimes, and dictators. The internet has increased social connectivity and is changing the fabric of many cultures around us. The same principle of technology being used to change the dominant narrative within a society parallels a shift currently going on within the outdoor industry.
Narrowing the focus, I?m specifically talking about how online video sites such as YouTube and Vimeo are changing the outdoor industry as they relate to hunting and fishing TV shows. What change you ask? Well, it?s not quite so evident yet, but as technology becomes more integrated into the lives of outdoorsmen it will become more noticeable. To further investigate this notion let?s look at the current dominant narrative, the disruption, and the resulting model that is arising out of the disruption.
The Dominant Narrative Currently, hunting and fishing TV shows are watched by many outdoorsmen on networks like the Outdoor Channel, ESPN Outdoors, the Pursuit Channel, Versus, and other networks similar in programming. These shows consist of quality footage, professional editing, and action packed content. The TV shows are fun to watch and they set the bar high for what trophy animals are in the outdoor world, they introduce new products, and give informative tips to the viewing audience. Many of these TV shows are made possible via the contributions of sponsors and other organizations that have a vested financial interest in the success of these shows. The sponsors and networks also have a financial interest in the success of the personalities they spend tons of marketing money creating. These shows reach their target audience sitting on a couch in a living room taking in the action?and yes, I?m an audience member too! This is the model that we have grown accustomed to expect and accept.
The positives for this model are obvious?quality content delivered directly to the target audience. However, there are some drawbacks to this model as well that can easily go unnoticed. Some flaws for this model are:
Cost - To have a show you must have financial backing or support from sponsors. Essentially it takes money to produce, edit, and buy the air time for the show. Thus, the need for financial backing from sponsors is never-ending. This model means you have to have money in order to have a show, to have your products(s) featured on a show, or to be a personality on a show. This model is expensive and makes it difficult for budding entrepreneurs and smaller organizations to get product placement in these ?prime time? shows. The barrier created by the necessary financial backing is a strong deterrent for many trying to ?break in? to the industry whether they have product(s), talent, or wisdom they aspire to share with the outdoor world. Many really neat products or bits of knowledge have never received high amounts of exposure simply because the people behind them couldn?t foot the bill to get publicity on this level of shows. It?s an understandable dynamic and it?s also becoming an outdated one.
No Exposure for Grass Roots Hunters ? Do you know someone in your local area who is an avid or exceptional hunter? I do and I also know that their knowledge and experiences could make for some good TV material?or at least content good enough to draw interest in the outdoor community. In the current model, these exceptional, local hunters won?t get much exposure. I also know some guys who were pushing to have their own hunting show on TV, but they eventually gave up as they couldn?t get enough financial backing to make it possible. The current model within the outdoor TV show industry makes it nearly impossible for grass-roots hunters to get exposure and promote their ways of hunting or fishing, their knowledge, and wisdom.
Authenticity ? In today?s society we seek authenticity...realness? and we can easily pick up on it when something or someone doesn?t seem to be 100% real. It?s not that hunters on TV are viewed as fake, but we, in the back of our minds, always think that these guys are hunting on a ranch somewhere or that they?re hunting in a pen. Whether they are or not is yours to decide. I?m sure you?ve heard outdoorsmen talking about how their hunting/fishing experiences ?aren?t like the hunting/fishing you see on TV? and this statement alludes to the notion that outdoor TV shows don?t accurately represent real life examples that they experience during hunting or fishing season. Whether the outdoor show is 100% real or not, the perception of the viewer often times leans towards the less authentic side of the argument. And as you know, perception is reality.
Lack of Availability & Sharing ? TV shows run on a schedule. You can easily figure this out by looking on your program guide in the newspaper or on your network?s program guide. You can also record programs and watch them at a later time. These are neat features for TV, but it still lacks in a few areas. You can?t watch these programs on a mobile device as easily. You can?t ?like? or ?share? or embed or search for and easily find these videos so that you can effortlessly share them with others. If the shows aren?t seen on TV then they?re not as easily accessible for viewing. Sharing and searching is out of the question as well in the current model.
The Disruption Enter YouTube and Vimeo. In this day and age anybody with a video camera can easily post videos for the world to see. The ability to document events on video and post them online has caused drastic changes in the way we communicate and share videos and media.
The videos posted on YouTube & Vimeo reach their target audience wherever they are via their mobile devices, Iphones, Droids, Ipads, Galaxy Tabs, computers, etc. We can consume these videos at work or at home. Though, the target audience for consumption of these videos is a mobile generation that?s constantly on the move, has a short attention span, is accustomed to interacting with media, and spends more time online than they do watching TV.
The online videos are instantly searchable, shareable, ?likeable?, embeddable, measurable, and they have the ability to go viral very quickly. These features are the same features that TV lacks. The new generations of hunters are pushing this disruption and in doing so are contributing, video by video, to the paradigm shift that is being observed. The end result will be a new, blended model in the way outdoorsmen consume videos and consequently a new way for marketers to reach their target audiences will be created along with the possibility for anyone to become a well known outdoorsmen.
The New Shifted Model The new model for video content consumpetion will consist of a blend of hunting TV shows that air on networks as well as prominent hunters who present their video content in an online, shareable, searchable, measurable, and ratable format. This new blended model has several benefits for many involved in this industry. Some of those benefits are:
More authentic/genuine content ? There is just something about a home video that gives an authentic feel. Whether it?s the bloopers or bumps of the cameras or moments of unsteady handling, when I view one of these videos I feel like the video is genuine. I feel like I have something in common with the person shooting the video and that common link is that the creator of this video is an everyday hunter/fisher just like me. It may just be me, but I feel that I can identify more with someone a few miles down the road from me with a hand-held camera than I can with someone hunting in a distant state harvesting deer/turkeys that are unrealistic animals for my area. This new, blended model will give me both types of content that I can consume. I can see the fancy editing and high-dollar product placement on TV as well as being able to see online content that I feel I can identify with on a greater level.
Cheaper marketing of sponsoring organizations - Along with working with ?big names? in the hunting TV show industry, sponsoring organizations will become more open to working with grass-roots hunters to have their products featured in their YouTube and Vimeo videos. Why would an organization reach out to the ?good old boys? who post YouTubes & Vimeos? They will do this for several reasons with the main one being that the cost will be much cheaper while the reach will become much further. Instead of having to pay for air time, editing, production, and backing high-costing TV personalities, organizations will easily save money and also work with local hunters to feature their products in the blogs and/or videos of the grass-roots outdoorsmen. They may donate products to these hunters or work some agreement up for promotions, but whatever they do will be cheaper for them than what they?re currently doing. The smaller entrepreneurs will start to jump on this and will start reaching the grass roots hunters and will cover ground in this arena earlier than the large organizations will because it is initially more attractive to them. The big boys will be a little behind, but they will catch up once they take note of the shift and start operating in the new blended model. Also, initiating change within a large organization takes more time so it will take the larger organizations more time to adjust.
Large organizations and smaller entrepreneurs will now both be able to benefit by receiving publicity and promotions from this new, blended model. Since viewers of the next generations will increasingly seek authentic videos from people they can identify with ?and will access the content where they spend most of their time (online)? the new generation of consumers will lean more toward online video than they will hunting TV shows. When consumers change where they?re viewing their media then so will the location of marketing change somewhat for the sponsors and organizations promoting products.
Increasing quality of videos - When hunters start understanding the ripple effects of the new, blended model they will start producing higher quality home videos. Just look at what has taking place on our site within this past year. Hunters are now carrying video cameras in the woods and are commentating while they video when possible. The videos submitted by our site users and bloggers are getting better all the time as well (and so are the available tools for creating videos). Hunters are spending more time documenting and editing the videos from their hunts. Current video editing software allows for some great, creative videos in the end. Over time more and more hunters will have better software and will produce higher quality videos and they will post them online! Organizations are noticing and are starting to donate products for our bloggers to field test and blog about. It?s cheap for them and the grass-roots outdoorsmen directly interface with the audience they want to reach which, in our case, is the audience of our fellow outdoorsmen here on the site!
Increased Exposure for Grass Roots Hunters ? Through these video sharing sites, local hunters will have an avenue to share their stories. In the new, blended model hunters will easily be able to reach greater size audiences (at the audience?s convenience too). The barrier for getting exposure will no longer be determined by the amount of financial backing that you can obtain from sponsors. Because of this increased level of content sharing hunting, knowledge, and wisdom will be more readily available. In short, anyone can create a YouTube or Vimeo channel and begin building their credibility and reputation online. Just go to Derek?s YouTube channel and tell me that you don?t see content that is intriguing to you?and this will happen to a whole generation of outdoorsmen who are figuring this out just like we are.
Ease of Availability - A TV show may air a couple of times. A YouTube/Vimeo video will always be there and is accessible 24-7. It?s way more convenient to find a video via Google search at your leisure than it is to find a TV show and be present when it airs or either DVR it and watch it later. Another intriguing fact about online video is the possibility for the video to ?go viral? and quickly circulate the net. Users can access these vides on any device and can connect from virtually any location. Its real time and it?s social and it?s easy.
More easily measurable ? Video views are quickly and easily measurable. I know TV shows have the Nielsen ratings and other methods of finding out viewer stats, but seeing how many views a video has on YouTube or Vimeo is way more easily accessible than waiting for ratings to come out and find out how many people watched a specific show. The view count on YouTube & Vimeo is as close to real-time insight as one can get. The ?view-count? on each video is a direct signal as to the visibility an outdoorsman is receiving and it?s easily available to both the sponsors and the hunters. The transparency reveals the truth and the stats can?t be manipulated. These quick and easy metrics help sponsoring organizations make an easy assessment of the value of working with various outdoorsmen.
Conclusion Don?t mistake what I?m saying here? I don?t think hunting shows are going to end because I think there?s a place and demand for them. I?m just saying that over time they won?t be in as high of demand. I think this change will become more evident in the coming years, but you can see it happening already if you simply look around. Just look on YouTube and search for hunting or fishing videos and you?ll see a ton of outdoorsmen having their own ?shows? via their YouTube or Vimeo Channels. Outdoorsmen are picking up on it and the sponsors are slowly starting to as well and they should!
What means more to you?? seeing someone on TV shoot a deer/turkey on a ranch in a distant state or seeing one of your fellow South Carolinians bag a good buck or turkey on a YouTube video?
The shift has begun.
At some point in everyone's life you're influenced by someone or something. In some cases these influences lead us in a direction that dead ends. Other influences ignite an internal fire and will lead us down a never ending road. One influence in my life that I'm thankful for and that will burn forever is my outdoor influence.
When I was twelve I can remember going with my Dad to a local pawn shop looking for my first deer rifle. At the time money meant nothing to me, but now I realize that was no small purchase. My Dad traded one of his shotguns and a sum of cash for that rifle. It was a semi-auto .243 that seemed to weigh as much as me. It was already equipped with a scope and it was ready for action. My Dad poured a lot of sweat that summer getting ready for the upcoming deer season. Now I realize that he did that for me because he saw the passion I had and he wanted to fuel that fire.
That first season came and went without a deer. I learned a lot that year. One thing was that a semi-auto was heavy and I needed a lighter rifle. We traded the .243 for a bolt-action .270. Another thing was that we had to get the stand out of the back yard. I know Dad (probably Mom) wanted to keep me close but that just wasn't working. So we moved that stand to an oak hollow that was a good hike from the house.
Not long into that season I had my opportunity for my first deer. A four point strolled down through the oak hollow and met his match. I was so pumped that I jumped down and ran all the way back home. My Dad was at work so I pulled Mom out of the house and we made the trek back through the woods to find the deer. My Mom always joked that she passed the hunting gene to me because she was 1/16th Native American. Well after watching her find that deer I would agree. My Mom passed away this year and I will always cherish the pride she had and interest she showed in my outdoor adventures. I told her to find a good hunting spot for me in heaven. No doubt that she influenced me.
Although hunting is now my favored outdoor activity, fishing was my first love. I was lucky enough to grow up with a small pond within walking distance from my house. I can remember many a day when my Dad and I shoveled up a few worms and hit the pond. As I got older I started to let my imagination wonder. My favorite TV show was Hank Parker's Outdoor Magazine. The jingle still rings in my head. "The house needs paintin, the yard needs mowin, where's he at? He's gone fishin!" Talk about influence. Well I had a many of battles with Hank on that small pond. (In my imagination). It would always come down to the last minute. I would be down a fish in the Bassmaster Classic with 10 minutes to go. I always seemed to catch that fish, whether it took me three hours or not.
As many of you would agree, those who have been bit by the outdoor bug will never heal. An outdoor influence is needed more than ever in today's world, and hopefully I can pass it on!
Share your story of what influenced the outdoors in you.
I usually leave the blogging to the other guys and spend most of my time putting the competitions together, but last weekend I had an experience that I wanted to share with everyone. I went on our annual deep sea fishing trip in North Carolina with some friends and my father. This is the 14th year that we have gone with the same group of guys and we had a blast. It?s a ?guy?s weekend? that we look forward to every year and this year would continue the trend. We all work in the building material business so it is also a day where no one can get a hold of us by phone. This, of course, doesn?t happen much more these days.
We left out of the docks on the Tuna Fever with Capt. Billy Maxwell at about 5am. After a 2 hour run we put the lines out and said some prayers. It only took 10 minutes before we had 3 tight lines with polls bending over. I jumped up and hooked up in the side chair. Billy yelled out ?Amber Jacks? and, as you can see in the video below, they were nice size.
After getting three amber jacks in the boat it was off for more trolling for fish. It was almost an hour later when 3 rods bent over again. I didn?t get the opportunity to hop in one of the chairs this time, but Big Ed (my father) just happened to already be in one. Billy yelled out ?I think we got some Tuna? and those where the word that I wanted to hear. I don?t know about you, but Tuna is the #1 fish on my hit list. I love to eat it cooked, raw, and on sushi. As you can see on the next video they were nice size. I can?t remember all the details, but I Big Ed wanted to take a nap after bringing this tuna into the boat. It wore him out.
After about 1 ½ hr of trolling Capt. Billy asked if we wanted to take a hr ride to a spot he thought would be great for Dolphin. At this point we were ready for a change of pace so we said ?LET?S RIDE?. Oddly enough, there was big patch of grass just floating in the water. We started trolling beside it and we could see the dolphin under the grass just waiting on something to swim by. Too bad what swam by next had a big hook in it! We started catching fish about 5 minutes after we arrived. It was so fast and heavy I didn?t have time to get any video. We limited out (60 fish) within 15 minutes. I have included the last video below of our catch lying out on the dock. As you can see, we had a good day.
If anyone of you are interested in taking a trip like this I would like to recommend the Tuna Fever with Capt. Billy Maxwell http://www.tunafever.com. Billy is all about catching the most fish and having the best time while on the water. Like I said before we have gone 14 straight years now and we keep coming back to Billy. Give him a call; you?ll be glad you did.
This past weekend I was down on the Santee all weekend long and man was it hot! I think the sun may hang a little closer to the earth down there because I sure did get burned. Also, I think there are some different kinds of bugs down at Santee that we don?t have around Pageland. Have you ever seen anything unique at Santee?
While I was down there I spent some time talking with the guys in the bait shop at Randolph?s landing about cat fishing, hunting, but mostly about alligator hunting. I have no idea about hunting alligators so I had a lot of questions and they sure did give me some good information and they also told me some good stories. From what I can tell, it sounded like fighting an alligator can be a tough, long battle. It also sounded like you better know what you?re doing before you go.
The crew in the bait shop started telling me about the regulations and process a person must go through just to be able to hunt alligators. Some of the guy?s couldn?t agree about the exact process so I looked it up on SCDNR?s web site. It turns out that there is a detailed process to it and there are several guidelines to follow. In retrospect, I think the complexity of the rules may have been the reason for their disagreements (or maybe it was just because people are used to hearing lies in a bait shop), but they were all close.
From DNR?s web site you can see that DNR divides the state up into 5 different ?units? with only 4 of the units having a gator season. The units with gator season are the areas of South Carolina that are coastal or near large lakes. SCDNR only issues 1,000 tags leaving each unit with 250 gator tags and those tags must be applied for. The application fee is $10 and if you get selected there is a $100 alligator hunting permit so to alligator hunt you need to have your mind and billfold right! Gator season runs for one month. It starts on the 2nd Saturday in September and goes til the 2nd Saturday in October. If you?d like to know more or see the rest of the guidelines for alligator hunting in SC, you can find information at SCNR?s site.
The "units" that SCDNR has in place for gator hunting
Back to the bait shop?the guys told me the story of last year?s biggest gator. Randolph?s landing is located right beside the dam. Just behind the dam is an area called the ?bar pits? where they say gators are frequently found. The crew in the bait shop said that last year a guy caught a huge gator that was about 14 feet long. They said that the man who caught the gator was fishing with his wife and was in a large john boat. They said he had to fight the gator for some 4 hours to get the gator to shore. They couldn?t remember the weight of the gator, but they said it was really heavy. I wish I could have seen that one. I bet it was a sight to see and to think of fighting something for 4 hours?he must have been tired.
On a side note, they said that there is a correlation with the distance (in inches) between an alligator?s eyes and the length of the gator. For example, if there are 4 inches between the gator?s eyes, then the gator is 4-feet long, if there are 10 inches between the eyes equals a 10 foot gator, etc, etc. I thought that was a neat trick to know, but it may be common to you!
The weekend at Randolph?s was a good one and was hot! If you?re a gator hunter and you get some tags be sure to check out the bar pits and be sure to take a pic of whatever you get and post it to the site. We may be down there again during gator season so if you?re planning a trip, let us know? we might come and film it.
Also, the guys at the landing were nice enough to let me leave some stickers in the bait shop just in case you?re in the Santee area and would like some WeHuntSC.com stickers.