I’m a GRINCH. A bah-humbug slinging, full fledged, holiday hater. I shudder when I hear Christmas songs on the radio. I don’t waste my time, or electricity, with twinkle lights in my yard. The “joy” of the season is completely lost in the non-stop errands and seemingly endless expense of gifts and travel. But the holidays offer one thing I always appreciate. Some extra time off from work to hunt and fish.
For the holidays this year my wife and I headed to Georgia to visit her folks, nephews, sister and brother-in-law Brian. When Brother Brian and I get together there’s always some fish caught, critters shot and beers drank. It’s nice to have family with similar priorities.
Landing in Atlanta we then took the 5 hour drive to St. Simmons Island (about 45 mins north of Jacksonville) to visit our father-in-law. Another relative and familiar face here on the blog, Uncle Mike, met us there. I was excited to float a bobber for redfish and sea trout. We bought a bucket of live shrimp and hit a pier on an inland river within view of the vast ocean.
With a medium heavy, 6’6″ combo I repeatedly floated bait along the bank just over the oyster beds where these fish, allegedly, like to hang out. I couldn’t get a strike. The tide slowed until the current in the river stood still. Then the water slowly started moving in the opposite direction. For a Michigan outdoorsman, watching a river change direction seemed unnatural. Then again there were literally signs everywhere reminding me that I wasn’t fishing at home.
The next day we hit the pier again with some of Brian’s buddies. We added a few rods with bottom bouncing rigs to entice any fish in the area. Nothing. They all had lockjaw. The same cold snap that kicked off my early ice fishing season here in Michigan hit the southland pretty hard and freaked out the fish. With no strikes to watch I concentrated on the countless numbers of mergansers, egrets and pelicans fly up and down the river. A few gadwalls screamed past helping my mind wander back to Lake St. Clair for a late season duck hunt in the ice and snow. Brian setting the hook snapped me back to reality. What could it be? A shark? A redfish? A stingray? Nope. It was a conch shell with a lonely stone crab tucked away inside.
Aside from the crab, three dolphins provided the rest of the excitement on the pier. They didn’t really pose well for a picture. I only managed to get a glimpse of a dorsal fin with the camera.
We packed up the cars and headed back to the Atlanta area arriving at The Good Luck Hunting Club (Brian’s deer camp) with just enough light to stalk a few food plots. The red clay stuck to my boots, and everything else I was wearing, but muffled our steps as creep up the hills and surveyed the meadows through our rifle scopes. We climbed up into a tree stand and waited as darkness gradually settled in.
Over a roaring campfire, a few fried potatoes and some great venison steak we planned our morning hunt. A tower stand overseeing a big food plot just above a marshy lowland. The ground was littered with tracks as we approached the ladder in the increasing daylight.
The spot had promise but just like our fishing efforts, it didn’t really pan out. Brian slept as I watched the sun cast the shadow of our blind onto the red dirt.
We climbed out of the stand and took a walk to see if we could spook up any whitetails. We didn’t see a deer. But a New Year’s Eve walk in the Georgia woods, not to mention the stop at the Macon Bass Pro Shops on the way home, was a hell of a way to say adios to 2010.