Monday, September 15, 2014

lowcountry tarpon tournament - video

Happy Monday, friends! I have something rather exciting for you today. Do you remember when I mentioned that John and some guys fished in the Lowcountry Tarpon Tournament? Well, I finally had time to get through their GoPro footage of the weekend... As you can recall, we have been after the [apparently] elusive tarpon several times recently to no avail. I know, I know, Hollis. Quit telling us about how you didn't actually catch a tarpon. Right?

Well, at last, I am excited to announce that at least someone caught a tarpon - Our guys who fished in the tournament! In fact, they caught 2 (although one never made an on-camera appearance). Even though it wasn't enough to bring home the gold for the tournament (hello, 4-tarpon-catching winning boat), the catch was super exciting to watch. I am sad I missed it in person, but here is the little recap I did for them. Enjoy!


[If you're having trouble viewing this video, click here to watch it on YouTube.]

 Congrats, guys!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

oven-fried fish sandwich with tartar sauce ... plus an update!

Has this fishing talk got you craving fish? While I am not exactly going to make grilled shark or fried stingray (and obviously no chance of smoked tarpon... just kidding), it definitely got me in the mindset of a good fish sandwich. And no, I would not ever make any of the above. But you get the idea, right? I resorted to the failed-fishing route and purchased a nice big piece of grouper.

Side note :: I'm embarking on a new method of recipe-sharing with you, friends, that you will hopefully like better. It'll allow you to save the recipes right to your computer! That is, in the event that you actually enjoy what I make and want to make said recipe yourself. Let's get started, shall we?

OVEN-FRIED FISH SANDWICH

Like I mentioned above, I bought a nice big grouper steak and just cut it down to the sizes I needed based on the rolls I was using. You can definitely have your fish monger do this for you (how fancy), and this recipes will work with pretty much any firm, white fish. The steak happened to make 3 sandwich filets, so that's what I made. Aside from the actual fish/sandwich roll, the rest of the recipe can easily accommodate a 4th sandwich, even though it says 2 on the recipe card... Which you will see shortly.

I say "oven-fried" because the fish comes out juicy and crispy as if it was fried, but you actually bake it in the oven. The Panko helps it stay super crunchy on the outside, and you don't have to worry about all of that extra grease that comes with frying. Even though I would crush some fried pickles right now. Real-fried, not oven-fried. Who's with me?
While the fish is in the oven, you can whip up the tartar sauce. Odds are, you already have everything you need for it. You can change it up however you like - sour cream vs. Greek yogurt, sweet/bread & butter pickles vs. dill... You name it. You can get your toppings ready in the meantime, too. I just used fresh lettuce & tomato. I like to keep it simple sometimes. Another easy trick? Cut the sandwich rolls open and place them face up in the oven for the last few minutes while the fish finishes cooking. They will get all toasty and delicious. 
Then it's time to make your sandwich! The fish will be juicy and golden brown and crunchy and I might've taken a bite before I even got it on the bread. Wish I was kidding. Wish I was sorry. These things happen... Look at it. Can you blame me? I also apparently was too distracted to take a "before" picture of the tartar sauce. I was too busy spreading it on that toasted bread while I waited for the fish to cool down and not burn my mouth. Again.
Serve with fries (Sweet potato fries? Potato wedges? Shoestring?) or chips - perhaps a nod to the classic fish & chips? The possibilities are endless! 

Well, now that I am hungry again, we have officially arrived at the new recipe card! Complete with ingredients & instructions, you can just right-click and save it to your computer. Just right-click and choose "Save Image As," and you will be good to go!
What do you think? They're designed to allow you to print on a 5.5" x 4.25" recipe card, but you can choose what works best for you. If you get all smart and do the math, 4 recipe cards will fit on 1 regular 8.5" x 11" piece of paper. Once you've saved 4 recipe cards from the site, use Word or Pages or whatever you have to put them all on 1 sheet, print, and simply cut them apart. Before you print, it should look like this:
Make sense? Even better, print on these pre-perforated sheets - they just tear apart for easy [almost] pre-made recipe cards!

I am going to be updating all of my previous recipes with their own cards over the next few weeks, so be sure to check back in and save your favorites!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

excellent sharkmanship

Yes, it's what you think. We had it all planned out: Labor Day weekend was going to be it. My dad came down to fish with us, along with our neighbor and one of John's coworkers, who also brought his son. We prepped on Saturday afternoon, getting the Sea Hunt ("Marmaduke's Revenge") ready with all of our tackle & gear for the next day. We went to be early the night before, planning to be up and at 'em around 5 am and have the boat in the water by 6 am 6:25 am. Check. Out near the jetties part Charleston Harbor looking for bait by 6:30 7:15 am. Check.
 Captain Wuan aboard Marmaduke's Revenge

We'd found a spot and anchored up at the jetties by about 8:30, got our lines out. We were doing it. We were fishing. And boat/people watching. And admiring houses and lighthouses we could see in the distance. And getting both GoPros ready for action. Hah. And fishing. Fishing, but not catching. Actually, I take that back. We'd caught some feisty bait in the cast net, and they were swimming around like a member of the Phelps family, effectively assisting us in catching each other's lines as they zig-zagged through the water. One rod tip would start to bend (much to our excitement - what was on the line?), and within a few seconds, another would bend. It only took one or two tangles for us to figure out our method just wasn't working. [Side note: braid tangles real quick if you're not careful.] [Side note #2: I apparently excel at tangled-knot undoing. Must be the years of untangling this lion's mane I have on my head...]
It's calm in this photo, but the waves really picked up after a couple of hours, and we decided it was time for a cold beer, a little boat ride, and a change of scenery. DONE! As it always seems to happen, we were bringing lines in and getting ready for our move when we heard the unmistakable "zzzzzzzzzzzz!!!" of line being stripped from one of the rods, tip bent over and line going fast. Do you know what I mean? I feel it happens every time - stand up to stretch in the deer stand, and a doe walks by right then. Get out of the duck blind to pick up decoys, and a group of red heads start working the pond. Take a bathroom break in the dove field? Guarantee you'll miss 3-4 pie shots with your britches down.

But I digress. So, I grabbed the fishing rod and let whatever was on the other end run for a few more seconds, then started reeling. I was definitely hooked up to a fish with some heft, but we had no idea what it was. In the minute or so that I was fighting the fish, remaining lines came in and John had just enough time to pick up a GoPro to film the catch. Alas, I had already turned them off when I was packing up, so naturally when the spinner shark at the other end of the line cork-screwed out of the water with an epic 1440 (that's 4 360's, in case you're bad at math, or didn't get my cool lingo), followed immediately by another 720. And THEN the camera turned on. And the shark promptly cut the line. I'm sure all of this happened in about 5 seconds but it felt like several minutes. Alas, no shark footage... yet. Shocking - I caught a shark.

So, we took a cruise farther inland into the creeks, caught some more bait, and anchored up in a tarpon-y looking spot for round 2 of the day. The little boy who was with us promptly caught... Another shark. Womp womp. But he was so cute and excited, it was just as entertaining, and well worth it.
 
Hilarity did ensue when John attempted to pick up the bonnethead so they could get a picture. That was one wiggly shark, I must say, and no one wanted to get caught on the business end...
So he belly-flopped back into the water. Over the next 2-3 hours, we kept our eyes on the water with hopes of spotting a tarpon fin ease out of the water. In fact, 3 separate times we saw a tarpon do exactly that, or roll, not too far away from us. That gave us just the boost of hope & excitement we needed to pursue them the rest of the afternoon.
Unfortunately, we never had the opportunity to land, or even hook, said tarpon. A couple more sharks were caught, and I think even a stingray. No way, right?
Chomp chomp, huh?

We headed in around 5:30 that afternoon, a little disappointed and a little sunburned. But, that's why they call it fishing, am I right? The beer was still cold, the boiled peanuts still delicious, and a great time was had by all. Per usual, for those aboard Marmaduke's Revenge.

Who wouldn't enjoy a beautiful day on the water?

Friday, September 5, 2014

rusty

It's almost the weekend, friends! Anyone have some fun plans? It's apparently supposed to rain here all weekend... Boo. At least the weather held up the past few days, as I was able to go on my first dove hunt of the season this week. With every season opener, I remember how much I really love dove hunting. Usually...
A love of wing shooting does not always come without setbacks. My dad and I got into the field with the rest of the hunters mid afternoon and settled down in the heat (95*) to wait for the doves to start flying. Sure enough, it wasn't 10 minutes before the birds started in, and we were able to get some really good shots. Let me say, I use the term "good shots" loosely. In the first 5-10 minutes I had pulled the trigger about eight times. How many doves did I have on the ground? Well... Approximately zero. I literally had not cut a feather. Now, I am not typically a poor shot. Admittedly, I am not exactly what one would call a stellar "athlete," and I don't really get competitive when it comes to sports and the like. In fact, I like to joke about how bad I am at sports like basketball, despite being 2 short inches shy of 6 ft tall. But shooting? I loaaaatthhe shooting poorly, and hate admitting it just as much. Like I get really frustrated. Which I know only exacerbates the problem. On one hand, knocking down your first dive on the first shot of a hunt is often the kiss of death, and has you missing the next five or six. But on the other hand, missing your first (and second, third, and fourth) is just as bad. I turned back to my dad and even asked him if he had given me shells not loaded with shot. Hah! I was. Not. Impressed.
I'd like to say my face is red because I was about to have a heat stroke, but I think my poor performance had a liiiiitle something to do with it.
I felt about like this sunflower. Womp womp. 

Thankfully, I was finally able to knock down the next bird that flew over. And four more promptly behind him. What happened? As it turns out, I was just shooting behind the birds. Once I figured out what I was doing wrong and corrected it, the hunt instantly turned around. Having shot minimally since the end of duck season (hello, busiest year ever), I was just a bit rusty. As my dad put it, "Think about pro athletes, like golfers [a sport we know very little about, admittedly]. Take Tiger Woods, for example. He can be the #1 golfer in the world after 1 tournament, and not even qualify for the next. There will always be days when you just aren't at your best. It's why football players have spring training. Just like any other sport, you have to practice. And even then, you can still be rusty. You just have to get back into the swing of things." [No pun intended.]
Solid advice from a cool dude, I must say. As it turns out we ended up with a fair amount of birds in my shooting quality drastically improved as the hunt continued. By the end, I was back to my old self.
I also thought I had some photos of our final bag of doves, but they seem to magically and mysteriously have disappeared from my phone/cloud. I'll update if they turn up.

I think I am ready for round 2. Who's with me?