Saltwater Angler & Sportsman, June 2024

June 2024 Edition

The Parsons’ Perspective

.... Pitching With Popping Corks

Mahi... The Oceans Speedy Drifter

Dialing In On Great Fishing Spots

Feature Fishing Life.... Meet the Boys of the “Offshore Break”

About Us

Contributing Writers

Brenda Cooper Offshore Fishing Sneads Ferry, NC

Captain Tim Wilson Founder, CEO


Kathy Wilson Editor, President

Captain Ozzy Ozbourne Inshore Fishing Topsail Island , NC

Captain Tanya Dowdy Inshore Fishing Charleston, SC

Captain Lee Parsons Inshore Fishing Instructor Topsail Island, NC

Captain Jack McGowan Inshore Fishing Savannah, GA

Captain Rod Bierstedt Offshore Fishing Instructor Wilmington, NC

Senior Contributing Writers

Captain Ethan Bilderback Inshore Fishing Topsail Island, NC

Bob Carr Offshore / Inshore Fishing Wilmington, NC

Captain Jeff Burnett Inshore Fishing Hilton Head, SC

Captain Dennis Barbour Offshore / Inshore Fishing Carolina Beach, NC

Lannie Conner Destinations Murrells Inlet, SC

Captain Eris Jones Offshore Fishing Sneads Ferry, NC

Table of Contents

6 10

Breakfast With Fishing Royalty

A story of two old school offshore anglers that did it the hard way. The tale of past to present and still having fun.

Fishing the Flats Is Where It’s At

The “flats” as it’s called is a way of fishing that offers new insights and changes from the day-to-day light tackle.


Dialing In On Great Fishing Spots

Don’t get stuck in a rut of fishing the same way at the same spot. Check out the ways to increase your catch!


The Parsons’ Perspective Capt. Lee Parsons, a well seasoned inshore guide, has yet another tip on successful fishing with Popping Corks Managing the Tides and Currents Many anglers aren’t aware of the extreme impact the tides play in the success or failure of your day. See how! Early Season King Fishing Tactics Prepare, prepare, prepare. Kings are a fun fight but know what you’re doing before going to their bluewater world.



Mahi...The Oceans Speedy Drifter


The most unusual fish with astounding capabilities, Mahi travel far and fast! Mahi is a most interesting fish.

Cocktail of the Month...


End Of Days Distillery is offering this month a recipe that will make you ask for more. The trick is how to stop.

Taste of Grilling


Try serving seasoned grilled shrimp at your next event. Two things you can’t beat...shrimp and a Wilmington Grill

Taste of the South Neese’s sausage has been a staple on the table for many years. This Sloppy Joe recipe is one more way to enjoy it! Our fishery is always at the top of our list of “where are we going with now”? That information is provided here. Carolina ALL OUT TV Show....Firebird Chris Douglas is all about our state’s hunting and fishing resources. This video is about our other national bird! NC‘s Mandatory Fish Harvesting Reporting Policy


33 40


Fishing Life.... Breakfast With Fishing Royalty

By: Captain Tim Wilson

A few months ago, my good friend, Captain Lee Parsons of Topsail Beach, NC, suggested I write a story about a couple of charter captains from Carolina Beach, NC, whom Lee had known for years. Lee assured me it would be a story worth writing and an effort that surely deserved my time.

I remembered both Carl and Freddy from the days I first learned about the art of saltwater fishing on an old broken-down dock just outside of the Carolina Beach basin. It was there that I would watch the Carolina Beach charter boats heading out for another day of fishing. The boats would make their departure in a long line, putting off a sizable wake and the smell of diesel. Two offshore fishing boats in particular, seemed to always catch my attention. As the boats motored by heading out, I couldn't help but notice the captains on the flybridge of a couple of those boats. One seemed to always look like a statue, keeping his eyes dead ahead. "Fish Which” driven by Captain Carl Snow. I had heard about Captain Snow and his terrifying experience of a boat fire and having been rescued from the cold Atlantic waters in 1991. It's a story that continues to be told by anglers today. But it's nothing like hearing it from Carl Snow himself. The other boat was named “Music Man”. You nearly always hear the laughter coming from this boat that was captained by Freddy Holland. Both boats were heading out the inlet on their way to the Gulf Stream.

Captain Freddy Holland’s “Music Man”

I asked both Carl and Freddy about their early years of fishing. Freddy started by telling me he had yet to have a driver's license when he bought his first Red Seahorse boat. Carl's first boat was a Simons, with two 18-horsepower outboard engines. The Simmons cost only $800 and took him eight weeks of fishing to pay off his debt to the original owner. His next boat was a 48' Harker's Island with two 671 horsepower engines. Carl brought a chuckle to the table when he told us that the Harker's Island would run up to 10-knots "downhill". It was this boat that enabled him to head to the Gulfstream for countless 24-hour trips. A tactic that is now a thing of the past. In those early days, Captain Carl would often hook a tow line to Freddy's smaller boat and tow him to the Gulf Stream so that Freddy could preserve his fuel for the return trip home. It was during that time fishing spots started to have "names". Places like "The Break" and the "Same Old". These places and names as well as countless others were found and named by men who discovered and fished them in a day when offshore fishing on the Carolina Coast was far more challenging than it is today.

In the early nineties, running 10 to 12 trips to the Gulfstream was not unusual. Many times, the captains would have to change oil while offshore. There was no time to change it while at the dock. This was a time when fishing was great, and business was even greater. Both captains had phenomenal stories about trips that would have to end early due to having filled all the fish boxes with Grouper or Yellow Fin Tuna after just 2 to 3 hours. On another trip when fishing for Grouper after only a few hours, Captain Carl announced to his charter customers, "Out of ice, gotta go home." And home they went…with smiles on their faces. These same results were repeated over the next three trips in a row. It was in those days that Carolina Beach Charter Fishing was in its hay day. The town was growing in popularity, and the charter fleet was a big tourist draw, a time when Captain Freddy and Captain Carl were at their peak.

Captain Carl Snow

However, around 2006, fishing entered a decline both inshore and offshore that's still being felt today. Fishing regulations have increased, combined with skyrocketing fuel prices, has had an impact. But still, they fished. Never giving up on the sport they love. The same is true with Captain Lee Parsons and his passion for inshore fishing. All three of these gentlemen will always have a special place in my heart and most of all, my respect. Their contribution to saltwater fishing on the North Carolina coast is invaluable. On the way home, I thought about how far saltwater fishing had come in their lifetime. We think today about all the great new lures and equipment that are available for today's fishing. Things like sideband sonar, with a chip that provides thousands of square miles of ocean details showing your location, and interacting with the software you have. The great anglers before us navigated with a watch and compass only, and they caught more fish than anglers today. They did it due to their determination and skill. Remarkably enough, these three fishing pioneers are still doing it today. They may have slowed down a step or two, but I wouldn't try to out fish them.

This weekend, I think I may take my grandson out to that old dock on the ICW where I used to fish and watch the charter boats head out. If we're lucky we'll get to see Captain Carl Snow and Captain Freddy Holland standing proudly on the flybridge of a sport fishing boat heading out for another day of fishing. Now that's a sight to remember!

Thanks to Captain Lee Parsons for making this story happen. You’re a true friend to many!

Freddy Holland Lee Parsons Carl Snow

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Socrates.....322 BC


Fishing the Flats Is Where It’s At

Fishing the saltwater flats is considered the next step in becoming a good inshore

By: Captain Ethan Bilderback

fisherman. Many anglers avoid this aspect of light tackle for obvious reasons. It requires the use of boats that are specifically built for the extremely shallow water and the way you fish the flats requires a number of tactics that are more complex than that of light tackle most coastal fishermen pursue. First, having a keen understanding of the flats environment and how it impacts the behavior of the various species is non- negotiable. In many respects, it's a different world than that of the creeks and estuaries most angers fish. Factors like the various underwater grasses that fish use as hiding points. Also, the change of the tide makes it necessary to be constantly aware of the shallow water depth and the ability to navigate within the flats as that tide changes. Another and possibly the most important factor is the fact that weeds and grasses can also act as a corral for the species you're fishing for. However, while creating that corral effect, it doesn't fully contain the fish.

Another flats fishing factor would be understanding that quiet is not only key but imperative. It's at the top of the list of flat fishing list rules. With the fish in an area with reduced escape routes, the slightest sounds can spook them and send them scurrying for deeper and safer water, so you must have a sharp focus on where the fish are. While fishing the flats can be done with the same rod and spinning reel that you would use in other areas of inshore saltwater fishing, fly fishing the flats is far more productive, especially if you're a skilled fly-fishing angler. Fly fishing is a tactic that's far more suitable for flats for several reasons, and for reasons you will rarely see spinning reels and bait casters used. Flats fishing takes place in a somewhat complicated environment because of the unique elements that reside there, and this is why fly fishing proves to be the best approach. Fly fishing is about strategy, stalking, and taking the angler to a place that allows him to be up close and personal. It requires a higher level of skill that includes learning the habits of the species in the flats you're fishing. It also demands the skill of pinpoint placement of your lure at the exact moment needed to make that fish respond in a flurry of splashing water and sound of spooling line. It's a feeling like no other in saltwater fishing and it's always exciting no matter how many times it occurs.

That's why, "FISHING THE FLATS" is where it's at.


Dialing In On The Most Productive Fishing Locations By: Captain Ozzy Ozbourne

Dialing in on the most productive fishing locations takes much more than guesswork. It takes gathering

all the information on the locations that have been

productive in the past. It's knowing and understanding all of the key factors and putting them together for that spot that pays off without relying on the trial-and-error method. First, it takes making good notes from the past months and years. Just as important is the organization of those notes.

Key Factors

· Water temperature · Air temperature · Tides · Water clarity · Catch history · Time of day · Time year · Cloud conditions · Location · Type of bait or lure · Moon phase

While good notes are great, they don't work well if they're not organized and somewhat detailed. The trick is being able to combine the factors of those great, good, or even bad fishing days and establish trends from those factors. As an example, a great day for Redfish may be a water temperature of 76 degrees on an incoming tide in May with fair water clarity, while another time would be fishing with shrimp early in the morning, and fishing at the mouth of say, Bill's Creek. Now that may sound like a big pain in the butt, however, it's far easier than you think once you get in the swing of it. It takes most of the guesswork work out and helps you spend more time fishing productive locations rather than running around trying to luck up on a good hole by trial and error. To break it down, take your notes from the same time last year and use those notes to determine where, when, with what, and so on. More time catching and less time guessing.

Your biggest investment is one of those 99-cent, little notebooks at the dollar store.

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Pitching With Popping Corks This month, Lee shares his expertise on the benefits of how to effectively use popping corks for Redfishing. This informative video is great for novice as well as intermediate anglers. The Popping Cork brings multiple options to the table when it comes to fishing for Reds and especially in the summer months.

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Managing The Impact of Tides & Currents When Fishing

By: Tanya Dowdy Charleston, SC

For many inshore fishermen, the impact of the tides and currents is something that is underestimated. Too many times anglers take to the water without considering how they can adjust their fishing plans to maximize the tides and currents of the day. However, there are several ways that you can approach your day of fishing with strategies that take advantage of ever-changing tides and current movements.

Just like the tide changes that move the water in and out, the current plays a big role when it comes to bait movement. The smaller bait is mostly moved by the current and if there is little or no current there is little or no bait. As a result, the fish you’re targeting will move on to seeking other bait or feeding sources. While I prefer to fish in low water, there will be times that the fish are around at high tide too. I find that fishing these slack tides is a good time to schedule my most active fishing. However, when the strong tide moves, the fishing nearly always slows. This is because it requires too much energy from the fish, and they resort to finding spots where the water is not as impacted by the swift current. While we need tide flow to move the bait fish, it’s best when it’s at a reduced speed for the most optimum fishing experience. You can start by finding out what the tides will be doing on the day of your planned trip and when they will be changing. This is an important piece of information since that's when fish feed and you will have a higher bite probability with a tide that's moving either in or out. The slack tides have a lower success rate because the bait fish aren't moving as aggressively, thus making the bite during that time much slower. Also, the rise and fall of the tide serves as a means to estimate the speed of the water, which is important in how you choose the type of lure, and more importantly, the size and weight needed.little bit of body text

Other factors that I recommend include watching out for the "King Tides". These larger-than-normal tides can and will have a significant impact on the fishing for the few days that are present. While it can be a big help for moving fish in that results in great fishing, the large tides can move them out as well. Fishing a “King Tide” can be difficult at times. Last, but certainly not least, always remember that the wind can play a key role in the movement of the water and how it impacts your fishing. These are all circumstances that have a substantial impact. The more you know, understand, and plan based on this information, the better your fishing results will be.


Early Season King Mackerel Fishing

Tactics By Captain Eris Jones

The water temps continue to tick upwards; Mother's Day has come and gone which can only mean King Mackerel fishing is getting underway. The big question is, what's the best way to prepare for the 2024 King fishing season for maximum success? There are actually a few pretty simple steps that you can take to have what could be your best King Mackerel season ever.

Ok, let's start with the simple stuff. Go online and check out the social media sites of fishing clubs and groups. See if any of them have been caught and where. Then call those anglers in your fishing circle and see what they've got to say about their recent trips. Another trick is to check out the Facebook of local fishing piers. When the Kings start to bite on the piers, you know the season is here.

Captain Eris Jones & Brenda Cooper

Hopefully, you have your fishing notes from last year at about this same time. Look and see when the biting started and what the conditions were at that time. When you see things line up with the current conditions, head to the boat ramp and get going. A simple but effective ploy is to just check the water temps and see if they have gotten to 70 degrees or more. If it has, the biting should start to happen, and you'll know that the season has started. While I prefer 72 degrees or more, I have often times caught Kings just under 70 degrees. If you've just installed a new electronic navigation product or software, make sure to practice with it and get the feel for its use. Heading out fishing once the season kicks off and trying to learn and tune in your latest toy may result in frustration and a wasted day of fishing. Get familiar with it first and you'll get maximum results on the first trip after the Kings arrive. Now, I know that these preparations sound simple, and they are. But overlooking just one of them can delay your King Mackerel fishing success. Now, we wouldn't want that, would we?

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Mahi, The Ocean’s Speedy Drifter

By Captain Rod Bierstead t

Mahi is one of the most unusual fish in the world. They have astounding capabilities and habits, and ways that set them apart from other fish. Their survivability depends on traits that make Mahi one of the most interesting of all ocean fish. For anglers along the eastern coast, they're a large part of the fishing agenda. Despite being a popular part of our saltwater fishing world for countless generations, there are still many things that we don't know or have just learned about these colorful creatures. With that said, let's take an in-depth look at the Mahi. I think you'll be both impressed and surprised at what you may learn.

The feeding habits also determine where Mahi can be found. Thanks to the Gulf Stream and the water vortex that moves the food in a more concentrated form than that of just the open ocean. This having been said is another reason Mahi follow certain water movements thanks to the combination of a food source and environment that suits their complicated needs. The speed of Mahi is another feature of the fish that often astounds us. This fish can travel 20 to 30 miles per day. Some have been tracked as traveling nearly 100 miles in a single day. This feat explains how Mahi can make a 2500-mile circle each year from the Caribbean to the Northeastern U.S. and back to the Caribbean. They are constantly on the move and in search of food and are driven by the fact that they commonly eat approximately 20% of their body weight every day. Another unusual trait of the Mahi is their short lifespan with the average life being approximately 3 years. There are a number of theories as to the reason for their short life. One is the constant stress of non-stop long days of travel combined with the speed at which they travel. No one knows for sure. Let's talk about what brings Mahi to the eastern coast of the United States. There are several reasons why. One would be that movement of the water off the east coast of the United States is suited for the Mahi. The water temperature as low as 67 degrees and as high as 84 is the range for Mahi. This temperature range can be found throughout the year from the Caribbean to the waters off the Northeast United States.

This makes it possible for Mahi to follow water flows like the Gulfstream up and down the East Coast of the United States to find their suited temperature. However, this does mean they are constantly on the move seeking a suitable water temp window. This movement is why you will see Mahi much more prevalent in specific times of the year. As for places like the Carolina Coast, they are the most plentiful in the late spring to mid-summer. Then, they continue their annual travel to the North and back South again. Another key factor that plays an interesting role in the movement of Mahi is both their feeding habits and their need for high water salinity and low chlorophyll levels. Mahi are constantly searching for their preferred water environment by seeking the right water temperature, and water purity. As an angler, a great rule of thumb is to find the right water temperature and chemical makeup and you're likely to find this great fish. The factors that I just mentioned is important information when it comes to fishing for Mahi and can play an important role in your success when fishing for this beautiful fish. Just remember these keywords….Fast, Fight and Fun.


Tactics For Awesome Surf Fishing

By: Matt Rabalais

Surf fishing is a great way to start your saltwater fishing journey. It’s relatively inexpensive and not as complicated as other saltwater fishing options. When many anglers start with surf fishing and then move on to areas like light tackle and offshore fishing, many also stay with surf fishing their entire fishing life. Here a number of surf fishing tactics that help you become a skilled surf fishing angler.

Slowly ease up to them, but keep a safe distance. Oftentimes they will start the conversation first, then you’re in the door. Many surf fishermen love to help others. When that happens listen carefully and ask questions. It will nearly always create a great education and a new fishing friend. Even if you’ve been surf fishing for a while, the surf fishing veterans can be a fantastic source of learning. Take a walk on the beach. Quicker than you think, you’ll come upon a guy or girl surf fishing. It’s easy to determine the real surf fisherman from those that have little experience. The beach cart with big tires, multiple surf rods and a focus on his or her most recent cast can tell the story. Ask a Pro To Give You A Show

Read the Beach

The best place to start is finding a sandbar or a drop off just off the beach. This is where your best chance is to find your target fish feeding since bait fish seek these areas as a means of protection from the larger fish that avoid coming close to shore. Some species like Blues patrol here for feeding on those bait fish. To find the underwater sandbars, just look for the breaking water just off the beach. When you see that, it’s a good chance there’s a sandbar and a trough there. Cast into the trough and you’re likely in the middle of larger fish feeding on bait fish. Outflows or rip currents are also a great place where bigger fish come to feed on the bait fish moving in and out of those outflows.

Overcast and rainy days can reduce shadows from your line making the bait more appealing. Also, More fish will come in to feed during high tide, especially at dawn or dusk, as there will be more water in your fishing hole. However, certain species will prefer low tide. Also, take advantage of low tide to read the beach and locate sand banks, dips, hollows, and other structures. When to Go and Why?

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Remember the good old days of sitting around the dinner table with mom serving up those wonderful Sloppy Joe’s that you and the family always looked forward to? Make sure you check out this spicy Sloppy Joe recipe made with “Hot Neese’s Sausage”. Perfect for a summer night with all the family.

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Understanding NC’s Mandatory Fish Harvest Reporting Policy

For the past several years the North Carolina recreational and commercial fishermen have endured a substantial decline in the state’s saltwater fishing stocks. This has lead to increased fishing regulations, and as a result, frustration as well as tension have increase with both sides. However, in recent months, events have taken place that show a level of progress on what has been a frustrating series of events. This is in regards to the recent North Carolina’s New Mandatory Fish Harvest Reporting Policy - 2024. It appears to have a promising solution that can potentially have a positive impact on the future of North Carolina’s coastal fishing health. I firmly believe that it’s time recreational and commercial anglers join together and embrace this effort which can benefit both groups greatly in the years to come. In recent days, some anglers have become confused by incorrect or misunderstood information. Below you will find a document provided by the NC Marine & Estuary Foundation that explains in perfect detail the New Mandatory Fish Harvest Reporting Policy. Please Read!

Captain Tim Wilson Editor, Saltwater Angler & Sportsman Magazine

The potential benefits provided by this innovative data collection program are far-reaching. Senator Norm Sanderson, the bill’s primary sponsor, remarked, “The new fisheries data program, which will be phased in over a period of three years, positions the state of NC as a pioneer in the field of commercial and recreational harvest reporting.” With rare exceptions (see the state of Alabama’s “Snapper Check“), few states along the Atlantic or Gulf coasts require reporting of fish kept by recreational anglers to better inform management decisions. The new program contains requirements for both commercial and recreational fishing license holders, and the Foundation was pleased to work with the NC Fisheries Association and others on the development of the bill’s language and intent. North Carolina’s New Mandatory Fish Harvest Reporting Policy - 2024 A premier part of the NC Marine & Estuary Foundation’s policy is now on the verge of changing our fisheries landscape for the first time in more than two decades. On September 22, 2023, the NC General Assembly passed groundbreaking harvest reporting legislation that will fill data gaps to provide a better understanding of how fish are harvested from our coastal waters.

Breaking Down the Legislation

1. Commercial fishers must report all harvested fish and shellfish, regardless of sale.

The Division of Marine Fisheries sold 6,243 commercial fishing licenses with selling privileges in fiscal year 2022, of which 2,502 licenses were used. Only fish and shellfish that were sold to a dealer were required to be reported on a trip ticket. Harvest from the remaining 3,741 commercial fishing license holders is unknown and has been identified by the Division of Marine Fisheries as a longstanding data gap in many fishery management plans. The new program will require reporting of all species kept by commercial fishing license holders whether they sell their catch or not.

2. Recreational anglers must report their harvest of Red Drum, Flounder, Spotted Seatrout (Speckled Trout), Striped Bass, and Weakfish (Gray Trout).

The new program will require anglers to report harvest of these five high-profile fish species similar to how hunters report harvest of big game species like deer, turkey, and bear. Currently, recreational harvest information is estimated annually through a federal data collection program called the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP). The MRIP survey relies on telephone surveys and dockside reporting to gather angler information. In August 2023, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published a report suggesting that their MRIP estimates of catch, effort, and harvest were inflated in certain surveys by 30-40%. While not intended to replace the MRIP data currently used in stock assessment models, recreational harvest reporting of these five fish species would provide a new index to help inform management decisions.

For example, angler-reported harvest would:

1.assist with quota monitoring for species with short harvest seasons (e.g., Flounder) 2. provide state-collected data to ground truth the federal MRIP estimates, and provide fisheries managers with useful trend data by species over time. NOAA encourages states to collect independent data for use in conjunction with MRIP estimates, and the federal agency has gone so far as to develop a certification process that strengthens the utility of angler-reported data in stock assessments.

Next Steps and Funding

The legislation directs the Division of Marine Fisheries and the Wildlife Resources Commission to begin their rulemaking processes immediately to ensure the successful implementation of the new mandatory harvest reporting program by December 1, 2024. To provide ample opportunity for anglers and commercial license holders to become aware of the new requirements, citations will not be written for lack of compliance until December 1, 2026, as part of the “phased in” approach. Securing funding for the Division of Marine Fisheries to implement the new program was another critical step in the legislative process. The 2023-2024 state budget includes an appropriation of $5 million to the Division of Marine Fisheries for the development of the harvest reporting platform. The NC Marine & Estuary Foundation will continue to work closely with our state agency partners, the Coastal Conservation Association, the NC Fisheries Association, and others, to support this exciting new program and to assist with critical education and messaging. Read the entirety of the new North Carolina harvest reporting legislation here.


The SHAC Safe Anchor By Tim Wilson

Most of the product reviews we perform are about lures and other fishing gear. Recently, we encountered a product that was extremely interesting. It was developed for only one purpose which was to make for a safer environment for boats, fishermen, and beachgoers. The product addresses the ongoing and dangerous situation of coastal boaters falling on anchors nearshore, or on their own boats. Along the southeast coast, many boaters have either been injured on a land-type anchor or know someone who has. The product is called the SHAC and was developed by a family in Durham, NC. Several months ago, we saw the product for the first time and found it not only to be interesting but also a "game changer" when it comes to boating and recreational safety. I shared it with the members of our contributing writers, and they too found it to be a great answer to what was once a previously dangerous recreational boating problem.

One of the greatest benefits of this product is certainly the safety that it brings boaters and beachgoers. It addresses the danger points on the anchor with a covering that works to remove any chance of an injury from tripping over it while on the beach or when it's under the surface of the water. The bright orange covering is placed over dangerous metal points that can be hazardous to boaters and beachgoers. The SHAC allows boaters to see the anchor at a substantial distance, making them aware to avoid the danger. SHAC is easy to install and fits most anchor designs. It's exceptionally durable and has a long lifespan. The price tag is a small investment of $129.99. I fear that many boaters will wait until they have an incident that results in injury before they invest in the SHAC. It's a product that needs to be a "must-have" for any boater, especially those who enjoy anchoring just off the beach.

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“Firebird” Turkey Hunting

“There ain't no shame in a good ole country bushwackin'!” The boys spot some birds as they head down the highway and make one move on the chess board to take the King! And this one has fire in his feathers! Just one more reason to love the Wild Turkey!

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The Cooler Alternative

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