Low-Country Lessons

Low-Country Lessons
Think there's nothing more to fishing than bait and cast? A few days at Wellcraft's Saltwater Fishing School will teach you otherwise.

By Jeanine Detz — March 2001

 More of this Feature
• Part 1: Wellcraft
• Part 2: Wellcraft
• Part 3: Wellcraft

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• Wellcraft Fishing School

When I was 10 years old my parents owned a house in Mystic Island, New Jersey. It was one of those sleepy beach towns where everyone has a dock, a boat, and plenty of Avon Skin-So-Soft to repel the biting flies. To fit in with his neighbors, my dad bought a 23-foot fishing boat, which my family and I went out on every weekend.

Fishing with my dad was always fun: I never had to bait my hook, touch my catch, or witness that catch become dinner. I just sat back, held the rod, and reeled when my dad told me to. (All glory, no guts.) Crewing, however, was a different matter. During the trips to and from the fishing spots, my sister and I would grab the docklines and my mom would throw out the fenders, as my dad scraped the boat's sides against every dock in his path. As the lines on our neighbors' crab traps snapped, profanities would fly out of my dad's mouth.

This was the extent of my angling and boat-handling education until last November when I received a call from Wellcraft. The builder had teamed up with the Sea Island Yacht Club in Sea Island, Georgia, to create the Wellcraft Saltwater Fishing School, and I was invited to test-drive the program.

According to Bob Edwards, director of sportfishing at Sea Island Yacht Club, many would-be anglers spend thousands of dollars on boats and gear only to end up disappointed by a lack of fish or worse, in a situation where they lack crucial knowledge about fishing and boat handling. Enter the Wellcraft Saltwater Fishing School, a three-day course designed for boaters who want to learn or improve fishing and boating skills. While the idea sounded great, the location was not quite what I had imagined for a fishing school: The Cloister is a beautiful 70-year-old resort on Sea Island, Georgia, which has hosted dignitaries and celebrities. It's the kind of place where every dinner is five courses, Godiva chocolates are on your pillow every night, and lobster is plentiful at every meal.

My eight classmates and I arrived on a Sunday night and, after dinner, retired to our rooms. Class began at 8 the next morning, as we all filed into a conference-room-turned-classroom where we would cover about 10 topics, including weather, navigation, and fish biology. I anxiously flipped through the five-inch-thick binder filled with maps, articles, and diagrams as our head teachers, Gordon Rogers and Capt. A.G. "Spud" Woodward, introduced the staff. The five men--Capt. Toby Mohrman, Mike Kennedy, Capt. Donnie Revels, Capt. Jeff Glenn, and Sean McCala--were all tournament fishermen, local guides, or both.

We spent the morning covering everything from a fish's sense of smell--a salmon can sense 1 ppm of scent, equal to about 12 drops, in a swimming pool of water--to fisheries management and boating safety. Most of the material was new to me, but even the more experienced anglers remained interested throughout the hours of lectures and hands-on exercises in subjects like dead reckoning.

Next page > Part 2: Fly-Casting, and More > Page 1, 2, 3

This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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