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 http://www.midlandsoutdoors.com/, http://www.hillslanding.com/, and http://www.sctraveler.com/. 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.

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