• Volume 9 Number 2 - February 2014

    Features

    Hunters from pre-teens to senior citizens put tags on great trophies.

    Another season has come and gone for South Carolina deer hunters, but not without considerable bloodshed and a collection of fine bucks on their way into the S.C. Department of Natural Resources’ record book. Regardless of roller-coaster weather, the 2013 season left plenty of happy hunters across the state. This past season produced a pile of high-quality bucks for hunters from a wide range of demographics: men, women, children — even our “most experienced” individuals.  

    From neophytes to those collecting Social Security, killing trophy bucks is catching on across the ages and genders.  

    Tanner Herndon claimed the youth spot at a lively 12 years old with a huge 240-pound, 9-pointer he killed early in the august season in Dorchester County before bucks began to split off from their bachelor groups. 

    Find deep-water structure and baitfish, and plenty of gamefish await your jigging spoon at Lake Russell.

    February gives fishermen the opportunity for a 3-for-1 special on Lake Richard B. Russell. Action on big striped bass is excellent on the lower end of the lake, especially early in the morning. Fishing for spotted bass and largemouth bass is outstanding with jigging spoons, and the middle of the lake holds a buffet of hungry gamefish.

    Guide Wendell Wilson of Elberton, Ga., said the only problem is the rigging, tackle and techniques required for each is different.

    Big baits usually mean big fish on Lake Wateree in February.

    February may be considered a slow time for many fish species, but that’s not the case for blue catfish at Lake Wateree. Certainly, the air is likely to be cold and the water temperature near its lowest point of the year, especially early in the month, but that doesn’t seem to bother blues, because the action for big fish is as good as any time of the year. 

    Reports from expert anglers back that up. Action can be fast-paced, but it can also be slower, with a bite here and there on occasion. But in February, the odds that the next bite might be a 40-pound or larger catfish is as good as they get on this lake.

    Look for speckled trout in deep holes close to shallow water for best winter results.

    A typical inshore fishing report in March or April might comment that, “The trout fishing is starting to crank back up” after the winter. Fall reports have touted ample available catches of speckled trout “until the water cools off.”

    News flash, folks. Unless an extreme cold snap results in a cold-stun and fish kill, plenty of trout are around to be had through the winter and especially in February — you just need to know where to look for them.

     To learn how to find and catch them, you turn to an expert like Jeff Yates of TyJo Knot Charters in Mt Pleasant.

    “Once the water temperature drops below 60 degrees, that’s what ushers in what I consider to be the free-lining season, the time I free-line an artificial bait deep and slow,” Yates said. “Prior to that, it’s still live-bait season and all the ways you present live bait, but the way I free-line an artificial bait is different. It’s a subtle presentation that works in part because the trout aren’t moving as fast and because the trash fish that would normally hit the bait first are gone.”

    Wild hogs cover much of South Carolina, offering plenty of hunting opportunties.

    Don Houck and another hunter crouched together just around the corner of a food plot and peered into the pre-dawn darkness. The full moon and high-powered optics allowed the pair to scan the far end of the green patch in search of the quarry. 

    “Just to the right of the corn pile,” Houck said. “It’s a big black ’bo hog. See if you can slip around there and get a shot at him.”

    A little maneuvering, a little slipping, and the big hog was centered in the crosshairs, soon to receive a healthy dose of ballistic tipped lead. At the report, the boar shuddered from the impact of the .308 slug and charged into the undergrowth before mortality caught up with him and put him down just out of sight.

    Fishing vertically around reef structure can produce plenty of sheepshead.

    If Mother Nature turns off the fan and lets the bumpy seas subside, Murrells Inlet anglers can cure cabin fever right on their doorsteps. All those sheepshead that make inshore waters home most of the year are living around a handful of artificial reefs in sight of the Myrtle Beach skyline, and they won’t be their normal, finicky selves.

    With their spring spawn on the horizon, sheepshead that move into the ocean as the water cools in the fall will eat just about anything they can get in their mouths. And while some of them will be around reefs in 100 feet of water, the majority will stay close to shore, hanging around the massive schools of lunker black sea bass that move in to take over nearshore reefs during the winter.