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WINTER COLUMN: Paddleboards and finesse fishing offer new challenges for anglers

In the world of hunting and fishing, there will always be the next big thing, the next game-changing technique or piece of equipment. This constant evolution, this infinite learning curve (for me), is one of the most enticing aspects of outdoors recreation.

It’s always exciting to see something new emerge and to witness the enthusiasm of early adopters.

Earlier this month, I got to soak up some of that excitement when a group of angling pioneers from the Lowcountry and Florida launched Charleston’s inaugural Stand Up & Cast SUP Fishing Tournament. The event, planned again for June 2013, was a joint venture by Charleston Watersport, Haddrell’s Point Tackle and Supply and Dragonfly Boatworks out of Florida.

The paddleboard-only tournament, billed as the first of its kind in South Carolina, didn’t draw many competitors — maybe a dozen. But after spending some time with these men and women at the captain’s meeting, it was clear that whatever they lacked in numbers, they made up for in enthusiasm.

For the most part, these folks seemed like savvy anglers hungry for a new challenge. Some had traveled extensively, chasing bonefish and tarpon in tropical locales. Most have been poling flats boats around or wading for redfish for years.

They said fishing from a paddleboard represents the next step in the evolution of fly fishing in shallow water. Paddleboards, especially the new hybrid craft being made by companies like Dragonfly Boatworks (above), take finesse fishing to the next level.

With virtually no draft, SUPs let you glide through shallow flats or flooded marsh with virtually no sound or disturbance. This means you can maneuver even closer to schools of redfish. You might even find yourself right in the middle of a school, with fish bumping into the board.

Also, fly fishing from a flat boat usually requires a good partnership: You need a person poling off a platform at the stern and a person casting off the bow.

For a successful trip, both people need to know what they’re doing.

Fishing solo on a paddleboard means it’s all up to you.

To learn more about fishing from paddleboards and kayaks, don’t miss our upcoming edition of Tideline magazine. The July-August edition hits the streets July 3.

Black seabass update
The 2012 black seabass season started a few weeks ago, and some friends and I jumped at the chance to see if the new management measure had any effect on the quality and quantity of fish.

This very unscientific test run produced the biggest, second-biggest and third-biggest black seabass I’ve ever put in my boat.

The vermilion snapper were thick, too, and we lost a few big fish that I assume were grouper.

Anyone hoping to take advantage of the hot blackfish bite better get going, though. It’s a safe bet that this year’s fishing season will be cut short, just like last year’s, once federal fishery managers determine we’re about to eclipse the allowable catch.

In fact, a fisheries analysis from May suggested that “a quota closure will be necessary for the South Atlantic black sea bass recreational sector between Aug. 22, 2012-Sept. 15, 2012.”

In other words, get ’em while the getting’s good.

Reach Matt Winter, Tideline magazine editor, at 843-937-5568 or

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