Road trip to South Carolina

One of the perks to my job is that I get to visit a lot of places.
I really enjoy getting to fish new bodies of water and see different parts of North America.
That being said, the time away from home and all the driving that I do during the tournament season is not glamorous.
Last week I had the opportunity to visit Charleston, South Carolina for a two day pro-staff summit that Shimano held out of their home base for North America.
It was a nice quick trip and I was able to fly which was convenient.
Shimano is a manufacturer of fishing rods and reels.
They were the first company to sponsor me back when I was 15 or 16 years old and have supported my fishing career ever since.
I’m lucky because they make some really nice stuff that absolutely helps me to catch more fish and they are a good company that does a lot to support the entire fishing industry.
The purpose of this two-day event was to bring in some of their pro-staff anglers from all over North America to discuss new trends in fishing and for us to gain product knowledge on some of their new gear.
We also learned all about oysters and even did some work to recycle oyster shells, more on that coming up.
There were about 20 anglers brought in for this event, both men and women and they represented saltwater fishing, bass, walleye, musky, west coast salmon as well as fly fishing, so there was quite a variety.
It was a good team building exercise and an opportunity to talk fishing with all sorts of different people.
Though I spend much of my time thinking about competitive bass fishing the thing I love the most about living in Northwest Ontario is that we have great opportunities for other species of fish so it was fun to get to talk to some of the top walleye and musky anglers on the planet and pick their brain.
For those of us who fish seriously, we are picky about the gear that we use and we were all able to share our thoughts about what we would like to see in some future fishing rod models. This is how a lot of new product is designed.
Bring together some of the top minds in fishing and hear what they have to say, then build what they ask for.
It’s a great thing to be part of.
In addition to making quality fishing gear, one of the aspects of the Shimano brand that I am most proud of is their commitment to advocacy, protecting the rights of anglers and helping to conserve our fisheries, both in fresh and salt water around the world.
They stay on top of government organizations to make sure that we don’t lose fishing opportunities, they support research and they originally came up with the idea for a live-release boat for tournaments to use to take fish away from weigh-in sites, where they can be safely released.
In South Carolina, oyster boils are a popular activity among locals and tourists.
They are part of the culture along the coast.
Since a lot of oysters are harvested from the ocean floor, they have discovered that these shells can be recycled and placed back in the ocean where new colonies of oysters will form around the recycled shells.
Oyster beds create habitat for all types of aquatic species, they filter the water and they help to prevent shoreline erosion so they are very important to the ecosystem.
For the second afternoon of our time in Charleston, our team bagged up two dump truck loads of oyster shells that will be placed back into the ocean by the South Carolina Fish and Game Department.
It took a few hours and was hard work but it felt great to do something good for the environment.