• Volume 8 Number 2 - February 2013

    Features

    Keep an eye on the birds; they’ll lead you to schooling fish every time.

    "What will February bring?"

    Many anglers ask that question as Old Man Winter decides how he's going to behave in South Carolina. For the past two years, he has granted us a pass, with relatively mild temperatures.

    Spot and stalk or sit and wait, South Carolina hunters can take squirrels using several different techniques.

    A squirrel had just hit the ground belly up, with a slight thud, when Mike Spinks of Sumter whispered to his daughter Taylor, “Let that one lay because there’s another one up there. Stay still.”

    Taylor, 5, looked bright-eyed up into the surrounding trees.

    “Where?” she whispered back, but before her father could answer, she whispered excitedly, “Oh, I see the branch moving!”

    All was still and quiet for the next 10 minutes until the squirrel in the pine tree, feeling the coast was clear, stepped out of hiding and began moving through the limbs. Spinks slowly raised his Thompson/Center .22 rifle, peered through the scope and clicked off the safety.

    Upper end of lake and major creeks will hold the most slabs in February.

    One of the more desirable features about crappie, other than their table qualities, is that these scrappy panfish have a higher metabolism than most freshwater species.

    What that means is that when other species turn nearly dormant in the dead of winter, crappie have a continual need to feed on a regular basis. Because they feed on a more-regular basis through the winter, fishermen can enjoy the sport and catch fish — often times a bunch of fish, and big ones to boot — when other anglers are sitting inside re-spooling reels and waiting for spring to arrive.

    Big schools, clear water, light tackle combine for great catches.

    The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway provides safe travel from the northeast all the way to the gulf states via a system of connected canals and natural waterways. Its use for recreational and commercial boat traffic is beyond measure, but in South Carolina, as with other states, it is also of great use to recreational fisherman.

    It not only provides easy travel from one hot spot to the next but also provides habitat for one of the most sought-after inshore species, the redfish, especially in the winter when the water clears and they gang up in large schools for protection.

    Anglers in the Charleston area are blessed with easy access to the redfish-rich waters of the ICW both north and south of the city.

    Discovering deer sign, moving stands and opening or extending shooting lanes can tilt the odds in your favor.

    It wasn’t your normal stroll through the winter woods, but as in years past, the walk had a purpose. We were looking for something, and if necessary, we would walk the entire property to find it.

    For at least a decade, this mid-winter stroll has marked the beginning of our deer hunting. Even though the season was nine months away, our hunting had begun in earnest. While many hunters are sitting by a fire, anxiously waiting for the winter to fade into spring and marking opening day on their calendars, others are out getting all of the knowledge the woods affords them.

    Fly rods are perfect weapons for sight-casting to spooky fish.

    Drifting onto the flat, you can see them, 50 or more, finning almost motionless in a foot of water that is so clear you can almost make out individual fish — but mostly it is just a mass of dark spots.

    Standing on the poling platform, you work ever so carefully to close into casting range, while your partner readies his 8-weight fly rod. Closing enough, you push the boat slightly to the right for an ideal forehand cast that your buddy delivers right on the nose of a spot-tail bass on the outside edge of the school, which is now clearly visible and may contain 200 fish.