My family recently bought a houseboat and my wife and I were lucky enough to participate in the first trial run. My mother, sister, nephew, and niece had stayed at the beach the previous night and my wife and I were to stay the next night. We followed a long windy creek leading to the back of Sandy Point Beach in the Cape Romain Wildlife Refuge just north of Bulls Bay. Sandy Point and Lighthouse Island are the last spots of land before the Atlantic Ocean begins (similar to the Outer Banks of North Carolina) and have a beautiful sandy beach which remain unspoiled by development (unlike the Outer Banks). The surf was a few hundred yards across the beach from the calmer inland side where we anchored the houseboat.
Minutes after arriving I couldn’t fight the urge to try to catch what I knew was causing all the swirling and commotion under the water in the 20 foot wide tidal creek. Within minutes I had landed a nice spot-tail bass (AKA red drum) on a cork and mud minnow. Hours more of fishing proved to be fruitless so we went for an evening stroll on the beach where my wife was able to enjoy combing the beach for pretty shells. You’ll see more shells in a square foot of beach in Cape Romain than you’ll find in a mile of tourist havens like Myrtle Beach. Ghost crabs and fiddler crabs by the millions combed the beach for any left over morsels. Clouds covered the sunset but the sky still glowed of beautiful reds, pinks, and oranges.
We settled into our new home and passed the time with cards and books before turning in. I awoke before the sun and the fishing bug biting at my toes (or was that a horsefly?). I casted for bait and stopped back at the houseboat for my fishing rod just in time to witness a beautiful sunrise reflecting off the creek. I headed for the surf and quickly found myself in a school of speckled trout, landing two in a few minutes time (both also on mud minnows). I tried for an hour or two more and caught only small sharks. My wife awoke only to find herself in the middle of a fish cleaning lesson (every girls dream, right?), something I myself hadn’t done in many years.
More walks on the beach looking for the perfect shells for a new wreath and a little more fishing on the back side of the beach where I landed another bass (you guessed it, mud minnow again) and our trip was almost over. We pulled up anchors and started home where we encountered a pod of four very friendly and curious bottle nose dolphins in the creek. We killed the engine and they came right up to the boat to say “hi”. I guess they’ve found that begging for food is easier than hunting it down and performed underwater spins and rose out of the water on their tails. We resisted the temptation to feed these wild creatures and they grew tired of working for no pay and went back to feeding.
After long hot showers at the house we were tired from all the fun and sun at the beach but we were also hungry. I melted a generous helping of butter in a pan and coated two of the trout fillets in a mixture of flour, salt, and pepper. A few minutes on both sides and the fish was cooked to perfection. I coated the other two fillets of trout with a mixture of thyme, paprika, cumin, crushed red pepper and black pepper to make a blackened rub and cooked them in a fresh batch of bubbling butter. I’m not much of a seafood lover, but I have to admit that both were quite tasty and not “fishy” at all. The fried trout tasty pretty similar to fried chicken but more delicate and moist, while the blackened trout was very flavorful and not as spicy as it sounds, but with a definite kick.
I was in high school the last time I camped at the beach and it was a welcomed opportunity to do it again. After almost 5 years of marriage, this was the first time I’ve been camping with my wife and I was impressed with her ability to “rough it”…we’ll see how she does next time after a more lengthy stay with no air conditioning and running water. Truthfully though, even in McClellanville, work can consume you and turn your life into a grind. A trip to the beach is the perfect way to re-energize and reward yourself for the hard work.
“I would rather be able to appreciate things I can not have than to have things I am not able to appreciate” – Elbert Hubbard