Saturday, February 27, 2010

New Fishing Gear - Abu Garcia

Anticipating a big year of fishing for 2010, I’ve acquired some new fishing gear. One rod-and-reel combination I recently got comes from Abu Garcia, one of the fishing companies owned by Pure Fishing. The new Abu Garcia Soron 20 is now part of my spinning reel stable, and one unique feature sold me on this reel. Two rubber rings are inset into grooves in the spool of this reel, allowing braided line to be spooled on without using tape or monofilament backing.

Braided line is often difficult to get started on a spool because it is so slick that the spool simply revolves around without catching the braid. These two rubber rings give the braid something to grip against, so adding braid to this reel is as simple as adding monofilament or copolymer line to any other reel.

But that’s not the only selling feature on this reel. Abu Garcia is world-renowned for making quality fishing reels, and this reel looks to be no exception. It’s rated for freshwater or saltwater, thanks to the same material used in making Abu Garcia’s highly successful Revo line of low-profile baitcasters. This material, X-Craftic aluminum alloy, is strong, light, and corrosion-resistant. The Soron also has a stainless steel shaft and is loaded with 11 corrosion-resistant ball bearings and a sealed drag.

I paired the Soron 20 with Abu Garcia’s newest fishing rod, the radically designed Vendetta. I choose this rod because Pure Fishing claims it is “factory-tuned” to match the Soron. It features graphics and an aluminum reel screw that have previously only been found in much more expensive rods. It’s made of graphite, is very lightweight, strong, and has a built-in hook keeper. The split-grip handle is constructed of high density EVA, keeping weight down and comfort up.

Other sizes and models are available and can be ordered directly from Abu Garcia at For more offerings by Abu’s parent company, check out

PhotosByBrianCope: The rubber rings on the spool eliminate the need for tape or backing when spooling with braided line. The Vendetta rod is factory tuned to complement the Soron reel, but Abu Garcia missed the mark on the color scheme.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Santee-Wateree QDMA Banquet

A good crowd was on hand at the Sumter Post 15 American Legion Hut for the Santee-Wateree Chapter’s 2nd annual Quality Deer Management Association banquet. Chaired by Sandy Sanders, the Santee-Wateree Branch is one of the up and coming players on the QDMA scene.

The night was highlighted by a great supper which was catered by Jimmy Condrey of Sumter’s Bar-B-Que Hut. Silent and live auctions included deer minerals, fine knives, artwork, truck boxes, and a varied collection of Wannamaker Seeds for planting food plots.

Among other items, a handful of guns were raffled off, including a Remington Model 7, some 700’s, and a couple of Remington 870 shotguns.

QDMA focuses on educating landowners, hunters, and land managers on doing their parts to manage the deer herd with the goal of producing the most healthy and balanced deer population possible. This practice includes letting young healthy bucks walk, harvesting an adequate number of does, and eliminating predators such as coyotes.

To find out more about QDMA and see how you can get involved locally, visit their website at

PhotosByBrianCope: QDMA stands for Quality Deer Management Association. The Raffle Girls are always pleasant to deal with and happy to sell you a combination of raffle tickets. The stage shows some of Thursday night's prizes. This one-of-a-kind sign was purchased in the live auction.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Wateree Ducks Unlimited Banquet

The Wateree Chapter of Ducks Unlimited held their banquet Saturday, Feb 20th at the Camden National Guard Armory. The catered food including shrimp & grits, crab dip, meatballs, and chicken fingers and an open bar was set up at each end of the auditorium, keeping attendees happy with food and drink. Pretty soon, the real business at hand--raising money for the ducks--got underway. A silent auction, live auction, and several different raffles made for some competitive bidding and exciting moments as people followed along with every digit of their raffle numbers, hoping for a winning ticket.

Several shotguns were raffled and another few were auctioned off, including a Fausti 12-gauge, a Browning Gold Trigger, and a Beretta 686 White Onyx in 28-gauge. A 64-quart Yeti cooler was another highlight, as well as some local artwork such as a limited edition print of "The Rock," which depicts the remainder of the first railroad bridge that connected Camden to Columbia as it sits today in the Wateree River.

Ducks Unlimited is the world leader in conservation for wetlands and the waterfowl that inhabit them. Their actions benefit not just ducks, but other wildlife and people. For more information on Ducks Unlimited, visit their webpage at

PhotosByBrianCope:  The Fausti being paraded about was just one of several guns that found new owners Saturday night. This guitar is an example of the diversity of prizes that are sometimes outside of what you might expect to traditionally find at a Ducks Unlimited event. Anna Cope shows off her limited edition print "Canvasbacks at Winyah Bay" by Rodney Huckaby.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Quail Hunt, and Surprise, a Partridge!

Today was probably the nicest weather the midlands has had in quite some time. MidlandsOutdoors took advantage of it by doing some quail hunting in Sumter County. Watching the dogs work and not having to worry about following them through flooded fields was nice for a change. The birds flew well and tested the skill of a group of friends out sharing fellowship and some occasional good-natured ribbing when the birds outwitted man and beast. But we got our fair share, along with a surprise.

While the dogs were on point, a big bird started to run. "Chukar!" one of the guys shouted. After a few trips across a wide open field after the big bird, it finally held tight until we were close enough to get a shot at it. As it took to the air, it met its demise at the hands of a Beretta 686 Onyx. But when the dog brought the bird in, we saw it was no chukar, but instead a grey partridge. Another was spotted running a short time later, and despite the best efforts of a good pointer and a couple of sportsman, that one is still out there. Maybe next time....

PhotosByBrianCope: Blue skies, bird dogs, and good friends--a beautiful midlands day in the Palmetto State. Quail in the front, partridge in the back.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Midlands Trout Fishing

An often overlooked fishing opportunity in the midlands happens just outside Columbia’s city limits. Many midlands anglers drive up to Oconee County whenever they want to do some trout fishing, but they could stay much closer to home and catch trout on the Lower Saluda River just below the Lake Murray Dam. Saluda Shoals Park is a good access point. Anglers can fish from the dock or bank there, or they can use the canoe/kayak launch. Paddle upriver for the best fishing.

For more information about Saluda Shoals Park, take a peek at their website

The trout are stocked by the SCDNR and come from the very same fish hatchery as those Oconee County trout that are regularly caught in the Chattooga and Chauga Rivers.

PhotoByBrianCope: Jacob Plant shows off a nice trout he caught recently from the cold waters of the Lower Saluda.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Good Catfishing on Wateree

Despite the high water levels and muddy water, the catfish are biting on Lake Wateree. During an outing last week, Jason Knight of Ridgeway fished for about an hour and a half and landed some nice cats. His biggest fish was over 39 lbs, and he also caught a 17+ pounder.

The water level will increase again with all the melting snow, but the weather man is calling for some dryer weather after tomorrow, so hopefully the sun can soak up some of the moisture and get the lake level back to normal soon.

PhotosCourtesyOfJasonKnight: Jason shows off his two biggest catches from a recent day of fishing on Lake Wateree.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Carolina Catmen Lake Murray Tournament

Rain, wind, and higher than normal water conditions made for a tough catfish tournament Feb. 6 on Lake Murray. The Carolina Catmen Tournament Trail held their 2nd tournament of 2010, and it was a tough day for fishing. The turnout was much smaller than January’s tournament, and the catch was much smaller as well. Six die-hard catfishing teams showed up and as expected due to the weather and conditions, the bite was tough to come by. Only 3 teams brought fish to the weigh-in, and each of those teams had only one fish each.

The Greenwood, SC team of Doug, Douglas, and Bryson Ferqueron came out on top with a blue cat that tipped the scales at 9.3 lbs. The trio also took big-fish honors.

Team Rebel Fish, also of Greenwood, finished second with a catfish weighing 5.9 lbs. Rounding out the top three was another set of Greenwood anglers, Team Flat Cats brought a 3.05 lb. catfish to the scales for third place.

For more information on the Carolina Catmen Tournament Trail, check out the organization's website at or call JD Trammell at 864-230-6129 or Russell Trammell at 864-230-4339.

PhotoCourtesyOfCarolinaCatmen: The smile on the two boys faces says it all. The Ferqueron’s won the Lake Murray Tournament. What a great way to keep kids involved in the outdoors.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Crow Hunting

With deer hunting out for over a month now, and with duck season just ending, there is still plenty of hunting to do before the weather turns favorable for fishing. One of the most overlooked hunting seasons in South Carolina is crow hunting. Yep, those big black crows that drive turkeys crazy actually do have their very own season in the Palmetto State.

The current crow season started with little fanfare on Nov. 1 and runs until Mar 1. There is no limit on the number of crows a hunter can take and decoying and calling are all allowed. If you’re like most people, you’ve probably never had a meal of prepared crow, so why shoot these birds? People have their own reasons, but when crows overpopulate an area, they can do a lot of damage to crops and other wildlife—especially to other birds including ducks and turkeys. They are notorious for breaking the eggs of other birds.

According to the National Audubon Society, crows are among the smartest of all birds. This helps them to be a very challenging adversary for wing shooters, another reason that duck and dove hunters like to accept the challenge of crow hunting.

PhotoCourtesyOfElizaBingham: Chaz Bingham of Wedgefield is an avid crow hunter. He hunts them with a 12-gauge shotgun with 2 ¾ shells with #8 shot.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Youth Duck Hunt

February 6th and 7th were youth only waterfowling days and heard several reports of fathers and sons heading into duck blinds for one last shot at killing a duck. Typical for youth hunters, plenty of shots were fired and while some connected with their target, most of the shooting was an excercise in wingshooting. Youths must learn how to shoulder the gun, swing the gun, and keep their head down on the stock of the shotgun during firing before they can expect to take their daily legal limit. The purpose of the hunt is to get the youths out of doors to experience the sunrise and the fellowship that only that setting can supply.

PhotoByJeffDennis: Cam Stuckey, Thomas Rowland, Jack Tucker and Fred Hannah enjoyed a nice teal harvest on youth hunt day. Rowland is from Georgetown and the other youths are from Columbia

Saturday, February 6, 2010

2010 Southeastern Wildlife Expo

February 12-14 is the weekend Charleston goes wild! The Southeastern Wildlife Expo will hold its annual event for the 28th year. Come join the fun as more than 500 wildlife artists and exhibitors from around the world will gather to bring some of the finest outdoor art to the lowcountry. This is the biggest annual event to take place in the Palmetto State, and one of the largest shows of its kind in the entire United States.

It’s much more than just an art show. Experts in wildlife, conservation, and environmental education will also be on hand with numerous demonstrations and exhibits. Whatever your outdoor interests are, you won’t be disappointed at this show.

One of the new events this year will be An Evening with Jack Hanna at the SC Aquarium on Friday at 7 pm. And to kick it all off, head to Hall’s Chophouse at 434 King Street on Wednesday the 10th at 7:30. A 5-course meal prepared by Executive Chef Matthew Niessner will be served in the upstairs dining room.

Plenty more good food will be available throughout the weekend. Shake off the winter blues by checking out the 2010 Southeastern Wildlife Expo.

Friday, February 5, 2010

S.C. Sportsmen's Caucus Foundation Event

The S.C. Sportsmen's Caucus is made up of state legislators who hunt and fish or who appreciate those who hunt and fish and respect their right to do so. The Caucus Foundation is the fundraising organization that supports the S.C. Sportsmen's Caucus with events such as the one held on February 4th at the Clinton House. Owner Chris Grant serves as Chairman of the Caucus Foundation and he welcomed 12 members of the Legislature for an oyster roast that was followed by a meeting with Jennifer Lundy of the National Sportsmen's Caucus, who was in town from Washington D.C. Heavy rain did not dampen the sporting spirit the next day as legislators, sponsors and guests enjoyed a pheasant tower shoot even though it was pouring down rain! Look for more leadership from Grant and his Foundation board members in 2010, as they attempt to grow support for the Foundation and raise awareness about the role the General Assembly plays in managing our natural resources and right to hunt and fish.

PhotosByJeffDennis: Jennifer Lundy travels with a Browning Gold Hunter shotgun and a Sportsmen's Caucus hat wherever she goes; CCA cooking team member Scott Whittaker stands next to Rob Keck at the oyster table; Kevin Ott, Case McNeil of the Clinton House and Russell Ott paused for a photo between hunting stories; Rep. Mike Pitts, Rep. Laurie Funderburk, Rep. Mike Gambrell and Rep. Ted Vick took their turn at the podium for stump speeches about the S.C. Sportmen's Caucus

Thursday, February 4, 2010

CCA State Convention Feb 19 & 20

Last year, CCA South Carolina held its first State Convention, bringing together folks from all CCA chapters across the state. Well, it’s time to do it again! The celebration of conservation will be held at the Omar Shrine Temple, Mt. Pleasant Feb 19 & 20, and will feature a cook-off between local CCA chapters, good food, a live auction featuring many “one chance only” items, a briefing from CCA’s national office, and much more.

For more information, visit

Monday, February 1, 2010

Wateree Overflowing

If you’ve tried to launch your boat on the Wateree River in the past few days, you’ve no doubt had trouble finding any boat ramps that aren’t completely under water. According to Duke Energy, the Wateree River is currently at its highest point in at least 25 years. This is a result of the rain and snow that has come down in the Rock Hill, Charlotte, and areas above. Duke Energy kept the flood gates wide open at the Wateree River Dam in anticipation of the latest amounts of precipitation, dropping the lake level down considerably. Even with that, the Wateree Dam has had water running over the top of it for several days.

With more rain expected this week, it may be a while before the river is suitable for fishing again.

PhotoByBrianCope: Despite all gates being wide open, water still rushes over the Wateree Dam.