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Koz

Yes, Another Gator Story...

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Geez it's been hot out lately. Temperatures have been in the mid 90's with the heat index 105+ here in the South Carolina Lowcountry. To make matters worse, the best fishing the past few weeks has been late morning and early afternoon. We bike 1-2 miles out to our favorite lagoons and that gets real old real fast in the heat (I need to buy a bike trailer). On top of all of this, we fish on a golf course that has shut down and all of the banks are overgrown and thick with weeds and the lagoons are all out in the open. It makes it a pain to fish. I did buy a machete to help with that, but last night got stung by a wasp hacking a clearing and that put a damper on the evening.

 

So at 6 a.m. this morning we mixed it up a bit and drove to Jarvis Creek Park on Hilton Head to give their big lagoon a try. The nice part was not having to fish through a thicket and foliage. They had an elevated dock with a walkway down to a slab dock that we were able to fish from. The slab was about 10 inches off the water and there was no railing to have to cast over. The water was a bit stained and had that beaded type green algae throughout so I fished with topwaters while my son tossed a Zoom trick worm.

 

Immediately we noticed we had company. A small gator was hiding in the algae under the elevated dock. Then a 7 footer joined. Then a five footer. Then a six footer. Soon there were 5 alligators around us, but they mainly sat there or cruised a bit. Sometimes they'd swim by the pad reminding us they were there, but it was no big deal. We just fished around them. They didn't even take an interest in my big Whopper Plopper 130 splashing and ripping on the surface. That soon changed.

 

I saw a bass jump in deeper water and with my WP 130 it was easy to get the lure close to that area. Within a few casts a bass hit the bait and I could tell that it was a decent sized fish. The only problem was that it was a L-O-N-G cast and two of the bigger gators immediately noticed the commotion. It was now a race to land my catch. It was a 50 year old man and his Pflueger Trion versus two prehistoric throwbacks. I wan't worried about losing a fish to an alligator, but there's no way I want to lose a new $16 lure!

 

It was close. I'm reeling, the fish is fighting, the gators are closing, and my 11 year old son is panicking. I've got one eye on my catch and one eye on the gators. "Daddy - look out!" Matt is shrieking, as if I needed the added pressure. Fifteen feet to land the bass. The gators are picking up speed. Ten feet. Matt has the net but he's no where near the landing zone. Five feet. There's no way I'm reaching down for this fish. Lift the rod, bring the fish up onto the pad - and TWO gators crash into the pad. Suddenly I'm thinking that this pad seems a lot smaller and not quite high enough to stop a gator from climbing up.

 

I hear a noise off to my left and see another gator doing a death roll with something just of the slab. OK, Matt's still behind me. That's good. I'm trying to work the treble hooks out of my 2 pound catch while the first two gators are right up near the slab eyeballing either me or my fish. At this point I can't be sure. I'm really  hoping beyond hope they can't climb up. At that moment I'm reminded of the Magnum P.I. episodes when Higgins' dobermans are chasing him while he's trying to get inside, "Work the lock. Don't look at the dogs! Argh! You looked at the dogs!" Work the hook. Work the hook. Please don't climb up here Mr. Gator. Finally, I get the hooks free and release the catch quietly away from the gators. But it's not over quite yet.

 

That catch flipped a switch with the gators and they started getting aggressive. Really aggressive. They were no longer meandering around us, they were on the move surrounding us. Every time I made a cast they went full speed at my Whopper Plopper. They didn't stay their customary 5-10 feet away either. They came right in and nudged the slab every time. Thankfully it's a stable, anchored, concrete slab. And they kept eyeballing me, almost daring me to make another cast. I decided it wasn't worth it and we packed it in for the morning.

 

We deal with gators all of the time and some try and go after your catch and hang out a bit, but it's usually solo gators or a couple of juveniles. This was a pack of adult gators all working the same area. My guess is that since this is a public park there are idiots that have tossed their catch to the gators, so once we landed a fish they instinctively thought it was dinner time. That's too bad because there are probably some decent sized fish in there. But for me it's just not worth the aggravation. The next time we try a new spot I need to find someone who lives in Hilton Head Plantation so I can fish in there. I've seen pictures and video of people catching 9 - 14 pound bass in there.

 

Here's one of our "friends" in Jarvis Park today:

 

 

gator2.jpg

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I'd love to see those videos from HHP as I haven't been able to find anything bigger than 4 lbs in there!

 

and I'll definitely agree on the "hot" part.  I was on HHI this week and it was brutal.

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21 minutes ago, Chris at Tech said:

I'd love to see those videos from HHP as I haven't been able to find anything bigger than 4 lbs in there!

 

and I'll definitely agree on the "hot" part.  I was on HHI this week and it was brutal.

 

The guy below has other videos where he pulls out some decent bass.

 

Here you go:

 

http://www.islandpacket.com/sports/recreation/cast-blast-column/article33498510.html

 

 

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Actually I do remember seeing that video and thinking that he was overestimating those fish a bit :)

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Great story.

 

Glad you and your son did not have to have an encounter with a gator.

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You are a brave man, I won't be near that lake if I know there is even one tiny gator in there.

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1 hour ago, JustJames said:

You are a brave man, I won't be near that lake if I know there is even one tiny gator in there.

 

I don't think we'll fish there again until they remove the aggressive gators. I did send emails to the town and SC DNR today telling them what happened and asking them to check it out. 9 out of 10 times when gators are around they are not an issue and usually the biggest issue with them is they swim slowly towards where you cast or make a bee line for your catch. That's why I thought this was interesting (and a bit scary at the time).

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Oh My

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Good news - the town of Hilton Head is calling in a company called Critter Management to relocate the aggressive alligators. We'll try fishing there again soon and next time hopefully I have a big bass story to tell.

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Where do you guys fish when you are there?  We go there on vacation but from what I see everything is golf coarse.  Are those open to fishing?  We should be down next summer, would love to fish while there.  

 

 

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7 hours ago, MasterBasser said:

Where do you guys fish when you are there?  We go there on vacation but from what I see everything is golf coarse.  Are those open to fishing?  We should be down next summer, would love to fish while there.  

 

 

 

In the story above we fished at Jarvis Creek Park on Hilton Head (no entry fee). We do most of our fishing in lagoons all around Bluffton but our favorites are right in our community since the golf course is now defunct and there's very little fishing going on there. It's low pressure fishing, but we usually bring a machete to cut back all of the growth surrounding the lagoons. You won't have to worry about that fishing on Hilton Head.

 

If you're vacationing within a plantation there are plenty of lagoons around that are not on the golf course or large lagoons where the course only borders one side.  Palmetto Dunes, Sea Pines, and Port Royal are probably the most popular for villa rentals. You can rent a vacation home in just about any community.

 

Best of all, if you're staying in one of the plantations there are bike paths you can use to go from lagoon to lagoon. Forget about taking a car - you won't have anywhere to park. You most definitely cannot park along the road within the gated communities. You'll want to get a fishing license as well. Plantation security may pull up and ask to see your license. You can get one on the South Carolina DNR website and print it out. An annual license is $10 and I think the temporary license is $5.

 

You can check out villa and home rentals on http://www.hiltonhead360.com

 

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Koz thanks.  We normally stay at Harbor side and get use of Palmeto dunes.  There is a bike path that goes under the road there, is that a lagoon vs a pond or is that a creek?  We'll have to take our rods next year and get a license.  

 

looking at the map there is quite a few places we ride bikes past each year that we would be able to fish.  

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2 hours ago, MasterBasser said:

Koz thanks.  We normally stay at Harbor side and get use of Palmeto dunes.  There is a bike path that goes under the road there, is that a lagoon vs a pond or is that a creek?  We'll have to take our rods next year and get a license.  

 

looking at the map there is quite a few places we ride bikes past each year that we would be able to fish.  

 

Palmetto Dunes has over 11 miles of interconnected lagoons. If you don't want to bike you can always rent a canoe or kayak.

 

There is one place on the mainland in Bluffton that you might want to fish - Hampton Lake. But you just can't walk in and fish because it's a private community. But you probably could make an appointment to look at houses, lots, or condos for an our or so and ask if you can try out some fishing.

 

Why would you want to fish a stocked lake like Hampton Lake? Two words - Tiger Bass!

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On July 10, 2017 at 10:28 AM, Koz said:

Good news - the town of Hilton Head is calling in a company called Critter Management to relocate the aggressive alligators. We'll try fishing there again soon and next time hopefully I have a big bass story to tell.

That's good news, unless these guys relocate them to Goose Creek Reservoir.  We've already got too many transplants here. 

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