Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Midlands Striper Club

The Midlands Striper Club held their April Team Tournament on April 17, and had participation from 18 teams. These teams brought 38 fish to the scale with the top 3 teams weighing 4 fish apiece.

Taking first place was Team Pitt Crew, captained by Brad Pittman of West Columbia. 22 lbs, 12 oz. was Team Pitt Crew's total weight, beating out the 2nd places finishers by just over a pound.

Capt. Tom Gitto's team, Team Sea Sea Rider, took that 2nd place spot with Capt. Joby Wetzel's Team WWII finishing a distant 3rd with 16 lbs, 13 oz.

Team Cut Bait & Wait took the big fish award, weighing in a fish that put the scale on an even 10-lbs. The smallest creel award was taken by Team Landlocked.

Midlands Striper club boasts close to 200 members, and is one of the oldest striper fishing clubs in the nation, going strong in its 31st year. Aside from catching fish, the group works closely with the SC Dept. of Natural Resources with striped bass research and stocking efforts throughout South Carolina. In the past 9 years, the club has donated over $42,000 to the SCDNR for these purposes.

The club's next meeting will take place May 11 at the Flight Deck Restaurant in Lexington, and as always, guests are welcome to attend. For more information, visit the club's website at http://www.midlandsstriperclub.org/.

PhotoCourtesyOfMSC: From left to right (standing) Team Sea Sea Rider, Team Cut Bait & Wait, Team WWII. (kneeling) Team Pitt Crew.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Wateree River Float & Fish

MidlandsOutdoors.com joined some friends this past Saturday for a kayak float & fish trip down the Wateree River. Meeting at the Hwy. 1/601 bridge in Camden, we loaded all the boats into one truck and headed upriver. We entered the river at the base of the Wateree Dam and floated on down to our exit point, fishing along the way.

Several varieties of bream were caught along with some largemouth bass, white perch, and one striper. We took our time, anchoring in several spots when we'd find a bream bed. We got rained on at times but the rain never got too heavy and the cloud cover was nice. We arrived at the exit point about 8 hours later and with a cooler full of bream for the fryer.

This is a great float trip for anyone looking for a fun way to spend a day. The first mile of this leg of the Wateree River is full of rocks and shoals, resulting in a small taste of whitewater. The river widens and deepens after that, and the current slows somewhat. Bluff banks and sandbars are prominent throughout the rest of this section of the river, with plenty of big rocks mixed in for some diversity. A few feeder creeks are also present on this stretch, and we were able to paddle up into one--Grannie's Quarter Creek--where the fish were stacked up in the calmer water.

PhotosByBrianCope: Bluegills like this were easy to catch on spinners and red wigglers. Morgan Watt studies the shoals to make his navigation easier. This heron was just one of several bird species spotted on the day. Anthony Messier does a little fishing in Grannie's Quarter Creek.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bream Fishing Time

It's time to hit the lakes, rivers, and ponds for getting into some slabs of bream. Bluegills and shellcrackers are biting like crazy, and MidlandsOutdoors has been catching them on crickets and lures such as Mepp's Aglia spinners (http://www.mepps.com/) and Panther Martin spinners (http://www.panthermartin.com/). 1/16 and 1/8-ounce sizes are working best, and are prone to catching a largemouth bass as well.

Bream are great table fare and are easy to catch, so it's a great way to introduce kids to the sport of fishing. And for fun, you can't beat hooking a bream on ultralight spinning gear.

The weather is great and the bream are biting all around the midlands, so get outdoors and catch some fish.

PhotosByBrianCope: A fine mess of Wateree River Bream sits on ice. Sumter's Ken Nutter pulls a bream from the Sparkleberry Swamp. Josiah Walter shows off his first fish of the season, a tiny bluegill that went back to fight another day.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Pond Fishing

Nothing says Spring like a little pond fishing. This is a great way to check out the fishing gear and your own hook-setting instincts, and also a great time to put kids on the fish. After months of cold weather, the recent soaring temperatures have the bream and largemouth bass very active and ready to feed.

Kershaw County resident Ray McElveen has two farm ponds that I've had the good fortune to be invited to, and along with Ray and his son and some other friends, we've caught good numbers of largemouth and our share of bream. The ponds are full of little 1-lb bass and Ray is trying to thin the herd a little, so we've been keeping these bass for a fish-fry.

Spinners and plastic worms have been working great for these bass, and the plastic Itzabug lure has accounted for most of the ones I've caught. Spinners and live crickets have been productive for catching bluegills and shellcrackers.

Ray's son, Grant McElveen, shared his strategy for catching largemouth in these ponds. He'll cast out a plastic worm parallel to the shore, and leaving the bail open on his reel, he'll walk along the bank letting line out as he goes. When he's walked the length of the bank, he'll begin his long retrieve, allowing him to fish a great amount of water despite his limited casting ability.

PhotosByRayMcElveen: Grant McElveen, a/k/a "The Fish Slayer," shows off a couple of the bass he's recently caught while pond fishing.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Antler Shed Hunting

While walking his property in search of antler sheds recently, Lee County resident Richie Boykin found more than he was expecting. An intact deer skull with both antlers attached was a good find, and one he believes came from a buck his uncle shot, but failed to find, during the 2009 hunting season.

PhotosByBrianCope: Richie Boykin found this deer skull while walking his Lee County property last week.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

It's a Worm, it's a Crawdad, Itzabug!


Stanley Jigs has a new soft plastic lure on the market that incorporates features of several different plastic lures. The 4-inch long Itzabug is like a short plastic worm with crawdad claws and tentacles. The body is made up of flexible rings that give the body a thicker profile, but they also trap air which is then released as tiny air bubbles, adding to the attention-getting features of the lure.

I tested out the lure today with help from Morgan Watt. Fishing a friend's pond, we found the Itzabug to be quite the fish-catcher. Having no luck with a white plastic worm, Morgan switched to an Itzabug and caught a largemouth on his next cast. That prompted me to trade my spinnerbait, which had produced no fish, for an Itzabug of my own. A few casts later and I was into a bass myself, but not before Morgan had already landed another.

Morgan was using a worm-weight with his Itzabug and had it Texas-rigged, and I was going weightless. Results were very similar, with Morgan catching 7 bass over the next hour while I caught 8. What impressed us the most was the durability of these little lures. Plastic lures take a beating when you're catching fish--the hook has to pass all the way through the plastic every time you hook a fish, but neither of us had to use a second Itzabug.

The Itzabug is available in 8 colors and can be found wherever you buy fishing tackle. Or order direct from Stanley by visiting their website at http://www.fishstanley.com/.

PhotosByBrianCope: Switching to the Itzabug made a good day of fishing.