Oh, for a beer to go with oysters – a by-product of generosity and a delicacy on the grill …


Salt water fishing is a recurring theme in my letters. 

I like it so much I wonder why it took so long – eight years – to cast my first line in the inshore waters south of Charleston. The total investment is upwards of $4,000 in a kayak and associated gear – not to mention the travel and early morning departures to pursue red fish and black drum and speckled sea trout. It’s some of the best money I’ve ever spent.

I wouldn’t have it any other way. And that means Ellen and Reid often – too often? – read about the all-too-frequent and goofy/poor skills fishing mistakes as well as the triumphs. 

But that’s why I write weekly letters – so they can know what I’m up to and why – even if it reveals my obsession with the Salt Life.


November 28, 2016

Ellen/Reid: Reid, thanks for the invitation to join you and Liz for Christmas at Marco Island. Sounds like fun, and I’ll be there for sure. That sounds like about the right length of time for a visit without overstaying my welcome. Keep me posted on the fishing charter. That will make a bit of difference when I arrive. Miss Emma will drive down with me. I may stick around in another part of Florida or head up to Louisiana to try the red fish up that way. Tim keeps saying how good it is and that might be the time to give it a go since we’ll be in the general vicinity.

Really have done well the last couple of weeks of fishing. Lots of reds (for a change) and big black drum. When not anchored at the barge I still have trouble catching anything in waters that are still a bit tricky to me. It seems you have to fish when the tide is headed out or by oyster beds. What seems to bite the most in the channels are the speckled trout which are, by the way, a truly delicious fish. The tactic to use is a popping cork, a rig with a sliding bobber about two feet above the hook. There are some plastic beads that make noise when the bobber slides back and forth, ostensibly attracting fish to the noise. Caught a nice flounder by surprise on it for the first time last week.

Came upon a trove of fresh oysters on Thanksgiving Day as a result of some dual generosity. I’ve gotten to know an older oysterman, Richard, and gave him a spare redfish a couple of weeks ago, for which he was most appreciative. While the reds were really biting last week – even for this hapless fisherman – he was across the salt creek working hard at an oyster bed and I gave him a yell to see if he wanted a red.

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Here’s my take home pay the week after Thanksgiving; a trifecta of black drum, red fish and speckled sea trout. On T-Day, two red fish didn’t make the trip home with Miss Emma and me; they stayed behind with the oystermen.

He nodded ‘yes’ and when his local harvest was done, he and his crew mate came over to retrieve the 19” drum. When the fish was transferred to his flat boat, the boat hand surprised me by dumping a bushel of oysters, maybe 40-50 pounds worth, in the back of Miss Emma, nearly pushing our stern underwater. That gesture was worth another fish so now they each had a nice drum in their boat and I had big, juicy oysters. The three of us sat there for awhile as Richard pried open a bunch of the shellfish for our de facto Thanksgiving meal. ‘Oh, for a beer,’ I said and we all laughed. After the fishing was done and the boat was loaded atop the car, I poured the oysters into one of the rugged, untearable 35 gallon plastic sacks Richard uses to deliver oysters to a few top-end restaurants in downtown Charleston as well as the diner right there are the Bowens Island put in point. The oysters were covered in mud so when I got home in early evening I dumped the contents of the bag onto the driveway and washed them down as best I could and put them on ice in the cooler than held slot fish: two red drum, three black drum, and one trout and flounder each.

We roasted the bi-valves on the grill over the weekend, and holy cow, what a feast. They were just incredible.

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Toss South Carolina oysters on the grill for 8 – 9 minutes, open a cold one and some cocktail sauce – now that’s some fine eating. It’s no tough task to open the bi-valves. Their shells wedge open during the roasting, putting the salty, succulent meat within easy reach.

The first night I overcooked them a bit – their shells tend to pop when really hot – but the second time they came out just perfect. Not bad with a beer and some horse radish. Since the fishing should still be good, Miss Emma and I will head to the barge one day this week and my salt water license also covers the collection of oysters. I’ll use a brick to jar them from the pillars near the barge and other open oyster beds. That will double the fun.

Here are a couple of fragrant eucalyptus leaves from a tree along my daily route. In the early darkness on Saturday and Sunday I’ll pluck a sweet smelling leaf from the tree and crush the aromatic foliage in my fingers just for the heck of it. Adds a little zest to the walk. Emma should like that fragrance. Thanks, Ellen, for Face Timing the girls with me. Love it.

Okay, over and out. Don’t be too late to get me your Christmas lists. ASAP. Stat. Pronto. As for me, it should be the usual – nothing. Really, there’s nothing I want or need. Other than a house sale but no way you can assist on that front.

Love, Dad

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