Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Channel Catfish--Lake Greenwood

I joined Capt. Chris Simpson of FightinDaBlues guide service ( on Lake Greenwood today and we had some good luck early with the channel catfish. Trolling over humps while using shrimp and cut bait, we caught a nice 6+pound channel cat which was followed by some smaller fish. 6 pounds may seem small by catfishing standards, but being the smallest of the three major catfish species, channel cats are definitely the fiercest fighters. Feeling the fight of the 6 pounder, I was expecting to see a 20-pound fish--they just fight that hard.

We reached double-digits on the number of fish caught, and though the bite slowed by lunch time, we boated a few more before the day was done. There are some potential trophy channel catfish on Lake Greenwood, so we practiced catch-and-release on the majority of today's catch. A few small ones went in the cooler to be fried, but the majority went back to grow and fight another day.

The water temperature warmed to over 64 degrees today, and Capt. Chris said the warming weather will have him catching them in shallow water within a week. He expects the fishing to improve in the coming days, and is happy to accomodate you on your next fishing adventure. Aside from fishing Lake Greenwood, he also fishes Lake Murray and Lake Monticello and each lake has unique characteristics that enable Capt. Chris to guide you to channel cats, flatheads, or blue cats. Visit his website at or call him at 864-992-2352.

PhotoByBrianCope: MidlandsOutdoors poses with a Lake Greenwood channel catfish.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Palmetto Sportsmen's Classic

The 26th Annual Palmetto Sportsmen's Classic is being held this weekend at the State Fairgrounds. Numerous vendors are on hand selling everything from fishing rods to fishing and hunting trips. Boat dealers, ATV dealers, tractor dealers, as well as tackle and clothing booths are all there to offer the latest outdoor gear. The Archery in Schools program is also holding an archery tournament, with 1st place teams qualifying for the National Tournament.

The SCDNR has a rack scoring table set up so bring those mounts in to have them scored. The catch-and-release fishing pond is always a big attraction for the kids, and this year is no exception. The bass trailer, a giant aquarium the size of an 18-wheeler, is also at the Classic and allows professional anglers to show the best techniques for catching the largemouth bass inside it.

South Carolina Sportsman Magazine is giving away a CVA muzzleloader to anyone who registers for their website during the Classic. Stop by their booth to sign up for your chance to win, and for those having deer racks scored, make sure Dan Kibler gets your photograph. Andy Crawford is also interviewing some hunters and putting the video on SC Sportsman's website. To see more of SC Sportsman's coverage of the event, check out their dedicated Sportsmen's Classic webpage at

PhotoByBrianCope: SCDNR Deer Project Supervisor Charles Ruth scores a rack at the Palmetto Sportsmen's Classic.

Monday, March 22, 2010

IFA Kayak Tour-Charleston Event

The Inshore Fishing Association's Kayak Tournament Trail presented by Hobie was held in Charleston March 21st, with the weigh-in taking place at Charleston's Half Moon Outfitters store. The kayak division has anglers seeking the longest total length of two fish--one redfish and one trout, and the weigh-in is actually more like a photo slide-show. Anglers take photographs of their catches during the tournament, with their unique token, ruler, and their fish being shown in each photograph. Instead of turning in fish to be weighed, anglers turn in the memory card from their cameras. The photos are then judged to determine the winner.

Big fish prizes are also awarded, with longest redfish winning a cash prize and longest trout winning a cash prize. The grand prize for total inches of both fish is Hobie's Mirage Pro Angler, followed by a Hobie Mirage Outback for 2nd place with 3rd place being a Hobie Quest.

Taking 1st place in the tournament was Dave Jaskiewicz with a 22.125" redfish coupled with a trout that measured 18.625". Thomas Samuels of took 2nd place, catching a 26" redfish and a 14.125" trout. and 3rd place went to Justin Carter whose 22.5" redfish was partnered with a 14" trout. Big redfish went to Danny Milleman, who finished 4th overall, and big trout went to Jaskiewicz.

Midlands-area angler Anthony Messier of Columbia fished the event, and his 18.5" redfish was good enough for 9th place in the 18-angler field.

To learn more about the IFA Kayak Tournament Trail presented by Hobie Fishing, check out the website at

PhotoByJeffDennis: Carter, Samuels, Jaskiewicz and Milleman show their trophies at Charleston's Half Moon Outfitters.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

IFA Redfish Tour in Charleston

The Inshore Fishing Association (IFA) made a stop in Charleston March 20, and it was quite a tournamnent for a number of anglers. First place went to first-time IFA competitors Richard Stoughton and Durrette Wooten. Their 2 fish bag totaled 9.10 lbs, and won the duo a brand new Ranger Banshee boat equipped with a Yamaha motor. That's the way to begin a tournament fishing career!

More excitement was in store for the father/son team that took second place. Captain Ron Davis teamed up with his son, Caleb, and after forgetting to secure the team's landing net which was lost early in the tournament, young Caleb made up for his error by showing dad how it's done, boating both of the fish they brought to the scale. Their 2-fish limit weighed 8.97 lbs. The third place team also weighed 8.97 lbs of fish, and the tie-breaker was determined by biggest fish, with Caleb's 4.83 lb redfish besting Captain Chris Wilson and Chuck DeLorme's 4.63 lb big fish.

A mere 4/100's of a pound put Charleston Angler-sponsored Stephen Fields and Jeff Crumpton in 4th place.

67 teams took part in the Charleston event, and the IFA will return to the Palmetto State in the fall when they visit Georgetown. But the IFA hasn't left the Low Country just yet--the IFA is holding its Kayak Tournament Trail presented by Hobie Fishing on Sunday. Check back for results and photos of the kayak event.

PhotoByIFA: Captain Richard Stoughton and Captain Wooten Durrette show off their 1st place trophies and their certificate for a brand new Ranger Banshee.

PhotoByBrianCope: Caleb Davis talks to IFA tournament direct Jerry Stakely about the 2nd place finish as Ron Davis looks on.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hobcaw Barony Article in CCA's Tide e-Zine

The Coastal Conservation Association has just released their first ever digital edition of their popular Tide Magazine. See the first issue of e-Tide here

PhotoByJeffDennis: Captain Steve Thomas and angler Joe Bibbo prepare to release a redfish at Hobcaw Barony. For more photos from Hobcaw Barony, check out Jeff's feature article 'Hobnobbing at Hobcaw Barony' on page 32.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

80-Pound Catfish

Fishing out of Hill's Landing on the Diversion Canal, Camden angler Johnny Gaines landed the biggest catfish of the weekend, an 80-pound, 11 oz blue cat. Taking a right out of Hill's Landing, Mr. Gaines fished Lake Moultrie with mullet and landed the big catfish on Saturday, March 13th during the 8th annual Hill's Landing Spring Fling Catfish Tournament.

Mr. Gaines, who did not fish the tournament due to oncoming bad weather, asked Jamie Courtney, owner of Hill's Landing, to keep the catfish in Courtney's extra-large livewell to give the fish a chance to recover from the trauma of being caught, and to allow the other anglers to see the fish, which was estimated to be over 60-years old.

A big proponent of catch-and-release, Courtney was happy to do so, and with the help of Brian Thornhill, released the fish the next day. The fish swam off, ready to be caught another day.

PhotosByBrianCope:(top) Brian Thornhill releases the 80-pound, 11 oz. catfish caught by Camden's Johnny Gaines.
(bottom) Hill's Landing sports two extra-large livewells--one for baitfish, and this one for allowing fish to recover with a rich supply of oxygenated water before being released.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Record Weigh-in at Hill's Landing Spring Fling Tournament!

Hill's Landing on the Diversion Canal held their 8th annual Spring Fling Catfish Tournament this past weekend and the team captained by Lynwood Thornhill took first place honors with a record-breaking weight. Their 10-fish limit over the two-day event broke the 300-pound mark for the first time in the history of this tournament.

Previously, the top weigh-in for this tournament was just over 290 pounds. Thornhill and crew shattered that mark as they brought 327 lbs to the scale. Capt. Thornhill and his brother Brian are both catfish guides on the Santee-Cooper Lakes System, and their experience helped them in this event, which started on Saturday morning and ran all day and night, with one weigh-in at 4p.m. Saturday and the final one at 11a.m. Sunday. Another optional weigh-in took place at 11p.m. Saturday night.

Team Thornhill also took big-fish honors with a 53.9 lb catfish which they caught Saturday, and weighed in another 50+ pounder at the same weigh-in.

Ronnie Johnson's team finished a distant 2nd with a total weight of 238.7 lbs, followed by Harry Collins in 3rd with 212.6 lbs.

The tournament limit is 5 fish per team, per day, and tournament rules follow state law when it comes to blue catfish. An angler may keep only one blue catfish that is 36-inches long or longer, and this regulation hurt one angler who was forced to fish alone after his teammate canceled on him. Rick Walker shoveled snow out of his boat to pull it to the tournament from Nebraska. Rick owns a house in Platt, Nebraska and one in North Charleston and has fished this tournament for years. Fishing alone, he caught a 36"+ blue catfish before the final weigh-in, and with that fish in the livewell, he caught a second blue that exceeded 36". Abiding by state law, he had no choice but to release the second blue immediately. Still, fishing alone, Walker, a retired firefighter, finished in the money, taking 4th place with a total weight of 204.6 lbs.

Hill's Landing promotes catch-and-release, and all catfish caught in this tournament were released in accordance with tournament rules.

The Spring Fling is only one of two annual catfish tournaments run by Jamie and Tenley Courtney, who own the landing along with the cleanest tackle store/restaurant on the Santee Lakes. The second tournament takes place in November of every year and is the bigger of the two events. One of the unique things about the November tournament is that 10th place wins the same prize money ($1000) as 2nd place, with 3rd-9th paying less. Jamie Courtney states he decided to give that a try for no particular reason, and that it is a big hit with all the anglers and sponsors. With a low entry fee and guaranteed prize money, this event is a must-stop for catfish anglers. Look for more information about the November tournament in the fall at,, and And don't forget that Hill's Landing has plenty of lodging on site, as well as an inboard/outboard motor and boat-trailer repair shop.

An angler who did not participate in the tournament caught the biggest catfish of the weekend out of Hill's Landing. Check back tomorrow for more information about the 80-pounder.

PhotosByBrianCope: (Top) Capt. Lynwood Thornhill receives his first place check from Jamie Tenley, owner of Hill's Landing. (Middle) Tournament angler and Santee catfishing guide Tony Hall hefts a 25+ pound catfish onto the scale. (Bottom) This mess of catfish, like all caught in this tournament, were weighed in and released healthy, keeping the resource alive for future anglers.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Columbia CCA Banquet

The Columbia chapter of CCA held its annual banquet on March 11 at Leaside. A buffet fit for royalty was served, including boiled shrimp, bar-b-que pork, chicken, and much more along with an open bar.

A silent auction which, among other items, included outdoors-related artwork and an inshore fishng combo was held. A live auction followed, and included several get-aways, guided fishing and hunting trips, artwork, and fishing gear. Finally, a raffle took place with prizes ranging from Yeti coolers to a custom CCA golf cart.

CCA--Coastal Conservation Association--is a non-profit organization made up of tens of thousands of members among 17 coastal state chapters. CCA uses its large membership to help shape fishing debates and new guidelines. The organization focuses on the big picture, but they do it at the local, state, and federal levels and are very visible in many projects from fundraising to building and improving artificial reefs.

Getting involved in CCA is not just important; it's also easy. Check out their national website at, and the South Carolina Chapter's website at

PhotosByBrianCope: Summerville-based Scout Boats is a major sponsor of CCA South Carolina. This golf cart was one of the prizes given away in the raffle. Richie Boykin shows off the Frogg Toggs rainsuit he won. CCA South Carolina Executive Director Scott Whitaker makes an announcement as Columbia's CCA Chairman Gene Bell looks on.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Horatio Hog Hunting

The little town of Horatio is located in Sumter County along the banks of the Wateree River, and the only thing better than the deer hunting in Horatio is the wild hog hunting. And unlike deer hunting, hog hunting is a year-round sport.

Wild hogs reproduce at a breakneck pace, and the animals can quickly become a nuisance to property owners and other wild game. The hunting plantations in this area have monthly hog quotas in place in an attempt to keep the beasts in check. Last Tuesday’s hunt put 3 hogs in the freezer, and provided a challenging and rewarding outing for three midlands outdoorsmen.

PhotoByBrianCope: A trophy boar flanked by two smaller pigs, and the hunters who downed the three. From left to right, Ben Inabinet, Franky Crautzberger, and James Dollinger. This photo shows a good variety of the colors and sizes of wild hogs throughout the midlands.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Carolina Angler's Team Trail Wateree Tournament

The Carolina Angler's Team Trail (CATT) held their 2nd Lake Wateree qualifying tournament last weekend, and the largemouth were in a cooperative mood. The nice weather we had last week carried over to the weekend, making it a good day for numerous anglers.

Twenty-three teams fished the event, and it was all about family at the weigh-in, as brothers Craig and Tim Haven of Lugoff brought a hefty 5-bass limit weighing over 20 lbs to the scale and taking first place. The brothers also cashed in on some bonus money. Their 6.91 lb bass took big fish honors which was good for $260. As the highest-finishing team in a Stratos boat, they were also awarded the Stratos cash bonus. Their total winnings for the day equaled $1892.

Camden's Andy Owens came in 2nd place with his 5-fish limit that weighed just over 18 lbs. He had a 5.5 lb bass that was good for 2nd place big fish, and took home $369 in prize money.

Several other CATT quailifiers were fished on other lakes throughout the state as well, and the anglers fished them with the goal of being one of the top 70 teams in any CATT trail, which will make them eligible for the 2010 CATT Classic, set to take place May 15-16 at Lake Murray.

The next CATT Wateree qualifier will be held this Saturday out of Clearwater Cove. For more information on the Carolina Angler's Team Trail, check out Brett Collins' website at

PhotosCourtesyOfBrettCollins: Craig and Tim Haven took 1st place in the March 6 CATT Qualifier on Lake Wateree. Andy Owens finished in 2nd place after winning the first qualifier of 2010 a few weeks ago.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Belfast WMA benefit

Laurens and Newberry Counties are the setting for the sprawling new 4,664-acre Belfast WMA. Historic Belfast Plantation is located along Highway 56 and has been purchased by SCDNR, NWTF and the Conservation Fund in order to preserve the land and provide public hunting access. A fundraising banquet on March 9 in Columbia helped raise funds for SCDNR to continue with Phase II of the purchase of Belfast WMA. Monetary donations can be made to the NWTF’s More Places to Hunt Campaign and contributers must specify that the tax deductible contribution is for Belfast WMA.

The property is located between two units of the Sumter National Forest and will provide a corridor of connectivity to both the Enoree and Long Cane Ranger Districts. Belfast WMA also provides protection for several miles of Little River and Mudlick Creek which flow into the Saluda River.

The Belfast WMA acquisition provides SCDNR another Foothills property to offer increased public recreation, and public hunting opportunities like the spring turkey draw hunts. An old plantation house built in the early 1800’s serves as a reminder of the past, but now welcomes public hunting to what may be considered the golden age of big game hunting.

PhotosByJeffDennis: The oil painting of the Belfast Plantation house was just one of the special items on the auction to raise funds at the Belfast WMA benefit; NWTF CFO James Sparks and wife Sandy stand with Governor Mark Sanford to work towards conservation in S.C.; Brian Dowler (NWTF) and Jason Johnson (Conservation Fund) work behind the scenes for the Belfast WMA; 2009 DNR Officer of the Year Wesley Potter stands with Brian Corbett (future candidate for Officer of the Year) and Ken Cope - the 2008 DNR Officer of the Year

Please visit for more photos from the event.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

SCWF Welcomes New Board Members

Two conservationists from the midlands were named to South Carolina Wildlife Federation's board of directors this month. These two new members share SCWF's mission, which is to "ADVOCATE for wildlife, habitat, and the environment, EDUCATE citizens in the conservation ethic, and SUPPORT outdoor traditions."
The new midlands board members are Will Batson and Tom Skaggs.

Will Batson was born in Greenwood and is a graduate of The Citadel and Harvard University's Graduate School. Gaining his appreciation for the outdoors at an early age as an Eagle Scout, Batson's passion for the outdoors continues. He is Vice President of Development for Columbia's Diversified Development, a position he has held for the past 6 years. In his free time, Batson enjoys farming, fishing, and hunting, and is especially interested and active in re-establishing and enhancing native grasslands and long leaf pine stands--both important habitat for the bobwhite quail.

Tom Skaggs is a graduate of the University of Montana's School of Forestry and works as an account executive for Outdoor Underwriters. He has experience working as a forester in both the government and private sectors, and has been involved in extensive long-leaf pine recovery projects. With his education and work experience, he brings a unique understanding to the plight of landowners and wildlife and what it means to balance the two groups. He enjoys fly-fishing and bird hunting in his spare time.

The SCWF is a state affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation and is involved in numerous aspects of protecting and improving the Palmetto State's wildlife resources for future generations. Check out SCWF's website at for more information, and to see how you can get involved as a volunteer.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Midlands Striper Club Clarks Hill Tournament

Boy, talk about a tough day fishing! That's what the vast majority of anglers fishing in the Midlands Striper Club's February tournament experienced on Clarks Hill Lake on Feb. 20. 16 teams gathered to compete, and only 3 legal fish were weighed in. Two of those fish were brought to the scale by Team Two Guys & A Gizzard, who took first place with a total of 8.95 lbs. Cam Littlejohn and Woody Barnes make up Team Two Guys, and also took the Nichols Store of Rock Hill Big Fish Award with one of their two fish tipping the scales at 5.04 lbs.

Team Cow Catcher caught the only other legal fish of the day. Rick Kellemeyer, Fogman Lindler, and Gary Heichelbech teamed up for second place.
No third place was awarded for the tournament.

The Midlands Striper Club will hold their next meeting March 9 at The Flight Deck in Lexington at 7 p.m. The next tournament will take place March 20 out of Spinner's Resort on Lake Murray. For more information, visit the club's website at

Monday, March 1, 2010

DNR Board Chairman Awarded Stewardship Award

SCDNR Board Chairman Michael McShane was recently presented the William H. Chandler Stewardship Award by the Pee Dee Land Trust. This award, the organization's highest honor, was given to McShane for his hard work in making sure historically significant and ecologically important lands are being preserved.

McShane began working for the SCDNR is 2003, and during his time in office, DNR has been able to purchase the Marsh Furniture Tracts and the Woodbury Tract. McShane's efforts to see these purchases through are a couple of examples of why he was chosen for the Stewardship Award, which has only been given one other time.

While McShane hails from Charleston, according to former Chair of the PDLT Ben Zeigler, he nevertheless has a keen eye for the varied regions throughout the Palmetto State, and knows the importance of preservation of unique aspects of each region.

The Pee Dee Land Trust is in its 11th year, and works to conserve and promote the resources of the Pee Dee region of South Carolina. To learn more about the organization, including how to volunteer, visit their website at

PhotoCourtesyOfPDLT:The Pee Dee Land Trust hosts a yearly oyster roast, among other events.