Now that we are moving solidly into fall it’s time to discuss an important topic — food.
If you are from down here or from an area where hunting and fishing play a huge part in the culture and the very environment, you will understand what I am talking about. If you are not fortunate enough to be a Southerner, then let me explain. We go hunting and fishing with the expectations of good food. In the beginning, for me, it was my grandmother’s deer roast. Oh man. The very thought of how that tasted makes my mouth water to this day and it’s been 30 years since I’ve had it.
My grandmother would make Granddaddy and me deer roast sandwiches, a Stanley Thermos full of coffee, crunchy peanut butter on graham crackers, and she’d pack a couple of good apples for us to take hunting every Saturday morning (sometimes she would make chocolate cookies with peanut butter chips in them). There would be little flecks of onion or bell pepper in the sandwich and the coffee would be so hot and so good after sitting in a stand for several hours. My granddaddy would peel the apples when I was little with his small case pocketknife and cut them into slices. I learned to drink black coffee and a lot about life as he would tell stories about growing up or hunts from years past.
As I grew into adulthood and started to hunt wide and far with friends and family the food changed from a brown paper bag lunch to meals cooked on the tailgates, campfires, or kitchens of faraway places. Probably one of my favorite times was a stretch of about four or five years where several buddies and I rabbit hunted like crazy. Three days a week usually and Saturday was a big day with a big meal we would cook in the woods. Normally, there would be a couple of children and about five of us older guys with a couple of packs of beagles. My job was simple. I found the places to hunt and usually cooked. Chili, grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, pulled pork sandwiches, or maybe my dear friend Bill Prince would decide to cook up his Chicken Perlo (South Carolina Low County dish of chicken, rice, onion, peppers, and sausages). The stories of bucks, fish, or turkeys killed rarely shrank with the telling and laughter still rings in my ears years after.
In the south food is how we say welcome, we love you, or you are important to us. To be invited to deer camp, duck camp, fishing trips, fish fries, oyster roasts, etc. is an honor never to be taken lightly. This is one of the reasons we have such honored traditions as a barbecue on the opening day of dove season, a yearly fish fry to celebrate something we find important, the tailgate at football games, and the church potluck. Most of the things we celebrate are simply celebrated so we have an excuse to cook!
In the spirit of my favorite time of year and one of my favorite foods let me give you guys a tip. Fish fries are easy and are wonderfully fun times. To kick that fish up a notch and get it crunchy my wife makes sure the fish filets are dry then coats them with plain yellow French’s mustard before dredging them in our fish fry mix. This will make the fry mix stick and provide a crunchy piece of fish! My wife learned to do this and suddenly, my responsibilities went to just frying the fish!
Deer season is going strong and judging from The Meat Shed some good bucks are dropping already in our area. You will hear a lot coming up about the rut but honestly, guys right now is a great time to kill a big deer. They are chasing does already and those necks are swelling.
Bass - this still, in my view, a transitional period. Summertime and fall patterns. The topwater bite is still going and you can still catch fish finesse fishing. However we caught several this past weekend running lipless crankbaits in deeper coves off the edges of the channel.
Stripers - They are back! Not sure of the numbers yet. But guides have been catching some good fish on live bait and mini macs. I’ll start running a 3-way rig here soon trolling for them.
Hybrids - Still biting some on the mini-Mac rigs. Keep a lookout for whites schooling and you will find hybrids mixed in as well.
White bass - Honestly this is probably one of the most overlooked fish on the lake. This year they have been schooling and busting on top very well. Keep a lookout as you run around the lake. I’ve found them in coves all summer with deep water running up to sharp shallow banks. Make sure you have a ¼ to ½ ounce RAT-l-trap tied on or maybe a Lil’George.
Catfish - One of my best friend’s sons is absolutely having a ball right now and catching huge cats on jugs. Key is finding good flats and keeping an eye on them. Use live bait. Bream or bass minnows. Dead bait isn’t getting anything right now according to him.
Crappie - They are moving into their fall patterns. You can still catch them shooting docks and over brush piles.