Sunday, August 29, 2010

2010 S.C. Wildlife Federation's Wild Summer's Nite

The mission of the SCWF is to advocate for wildlife, habitat and the environment, and to educate citizens in the ethic of conservation, and to support outdoor traditions. Each summer is punctuated with SCWF's Wild Game Banquet and fundraising auction to celebrate with its member the continuation of outdoor enjoyment. Held Aug. 28 at Tronco's Medallion Center in Columbia the silent auction and social hour was followed by a game feast that included wild boar, duck, pheasant, catfish and the crowd-pleasing Gator Tail. Live auction items included trips to resort locations, and included things like turkey calls and quail hunting opportunities. Under the leadership of SCWF Executive Director Ben Gregg and SCWF Board Chair Clinch Heyward, both the Wild Summer's Nite and the SCWF mission are being executed with success.

PhotosByJeffDennis: Paula, Somer (SCWF auction intern) and George Makey support families and the outdoors; Elizabeth and Joerg Marks of Lexington; Lauren and Andy Whitfield smile for wildlife with Ella Dickerson of Columbia; Amy Hill, Jennifer Cooke and Tara Branham would not miss the annual wild game feast

For more event photos on please click this link.
For more event photos on please click this link.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Cooler Weather, Less Pressure, Good for Fishing

As September draws near, the mornings and evenings have already begun hinting that fall is in the air. We've still got our share of scorchers left before the cool weather sets in for good, but this week gave Midlands outdoorsmen just a crumb of what is right around the corner.

Many anglers are likely tired of the heat, and by all accounts, the fish have felt that way for a while now too. Just the few mornings we've had with cooler weather have boosted most everyone's fishing reports, and some other seasonal changes having to do with more than the weather are also providing less fishing pressure on our local waters.

High school football is already in full swing, college football starts this week, and hunting season is just days away, so those activities will be keeping a lot of folks off the water. Take advantage of the cooling weather and the smaller crowds on your favorite body of water and catch some fish. Before you know it, the fish will have shut down for the winter, and then you can take to the woods in search of deer.

Photo shows a nice bass taken Friday morning when the day was still nice and cool. This largemouth has me currently in 13th place in the Awful August Challenge at It will take a 23+ inch bass by Tuesday night to leapfrog me into the top spot, which wins a Wilderness Systems Tarpon 140 kayak.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pig Pickin' Anyone?

Midlands area hunters have plenty of opportunities to pursue wild game and fish, and one of those opportunities is hunting wild hogs. According to the SCDNR, some of the highest concentrations of wild hogs in South Carolina can be found along the Richland County/Sumter County border along the banks of the Wateree River.
While our lowcountry brethren are already hunting deer, those of us in the midlands have to wait a little while longer, but the high numbers of hogs in our area give us plenty of reason to get out in the woods. There are several ways to hunt hogs, and one way is by sitting in a deer stand. Deer and hogs eat much of the same foods and travel many of the same routes, so hunting from a deer stand over a food plot is one good strategy for getting a shot at some pork chops.

PhotoByBrianCope: This Sumter County hunter put this pig on the ground while sitting in a deer stand just before dark.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wateree River Bream Fishing and Water Levels

 I did a little scouting this morning on the Wateree River for an upcoming bream fishing trip I'll be leading. I put in at the Hwy. 1/601 boat landing and fished for about 3 hours, throwing Beetlespins and Mepps Aglia spinners the whole time. I landed about 30 fish, but most were too small to keep. These are river fish though, and they fight like the devil all the way to the boat. One thing I love about bream fishing in this river is that it's not uncommon to catch 4 (or more) different species of these panfish all out of what seems to be the same hole. Today I caught bluegill, shellcracker, pumpkinseed, and redbreast bream, and I caught that variety in several different spots along both banks of the river.

I usually slip up and catch a few bass when throwing these little spinning lures, but that wasn't the case today. I didn't get fishing until about 10 though, so I think I was just too late to entice them into a meal.

The Wateree River is up a little higher than I normally like to fish it, but it had dropped slightly during my outing. To check the water levels of this and other rivers throughout South Carolina, check out the U.S. Goelogical Survey's website at and click on the river you're looking for.

PhotosByBrianCope: I didn't get my camera out in time to photograph a turkey along the banks, but he left his tracks for a photo. This pumpkinseed hit my Mepps spinner hard! Not alone--I wasn't the only boat on this section of the river today.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

One lure, two fish

It always sounds like a fish tale to non-anglers, and it's not the most common occurence for fishermen, but it does happen. It happened to me this morning while casting a 1/8-ounce Mepps Black Fury spinner in a farm pond.

Using an ultralight rod-and-reel, hooking a decent sized bream can make you feel like you're offshore fishing. Try catching two bream that don't agree on the direction they wish to travel, and you'll think you've slipped up and hooked into a trophy largemouth. At least that was my thought before finally getting the fish close enough to see that two bream had attacked the Mepps lure, with them each catching a barb apiece on the treble hook.

The water at all my fishing holes is so warm that the fish are only active very early and very late. I've had more luck very early when the water has had all night to cool. Soft plastic baits haven't been getting much attention. Buzzbaits and spinnerbaits in a variety of sizes have accounted for almost all the bass I've caught, and the Mepps Aglia and Black Fury spinners have caught many bream and a few bass as well.

PhotosByBrianCope: Ferocious! Two bream fought over this Mepps Black Fury spinner. They both lost. The Black Fury isn't a 1-trick pony; it catches its share of bass as well as bream.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

New Florence DNR Office

The SCDNR had the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Florence DNR office for the grand opening earlier today. The new building houses 3 divisions of the DNR--Law Enforcement; Land, Water & Conservation; and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries are all under the same roof of this state-of-the-art 8800 square-foot building. A 1250 square-foot auditorium that will be used for Hunter and Boater Education Classes is a part of the new building, which incorporates many 'green' technologies.

This 1.9 million dollar facility is a cost-saving investment for the SCDNR, which has seen drastic budget cuts in the past few years. Seventeen other SCDNR regional offices were consolidated into this office, and the cost savings incurred by closing those offices--all of which were outdated and in need of extensive repairs--will offset the cost of this new facility rather quickly.

South Carolina outdoorsmen can get hunting & fishing licenses, permits, and tags, boat registrations, and outboard registrations at the new hub.

Several guests spoke at today's grand opening, including Dr. Fred Carter, the president of Francis Marion University, on whose campus the new DNR office is located. Other speakers were Mike McShane, Chairman of the DNR board; John Frampton, Director of the DNR; Sen. Hugh Leatherman; Sen. Kent Williams; Rep. Terry Alexander and Sen. Yancey McGill. These gentlemen were all instrumental in seeing the project to fruition, and appropriately, they all wielded scissors to take part in cutting the ribbon.

PhotosByBrianCope: Director John Frampton shares a laugh with Board Chairman Mike McShane, who stands at the outdoors-themed podium. A number of wild game and fish mounts decorate the new building. The DNR sign welcomes customers to the state-of-the-art facility. The ribbon is cut and the new Florence DNR hub is open for business.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Camden Angler Wins FLW Co-Angler Championship

Dearal Rodgers took first place in the co-angler division of this past weekend's FLW Cup on Lake Lanier, Georgia. The win netted Rodgers $65,000 in prize money. Rodgers is a frequent Lake Wateree bass angler and regular contributer to the South Carolina Fishing Report (, and has been fishing professionally for the past 5 years.

Over the 3 day event, Rodgers brought 14 fish to the scales for a total weight of 27 lbs, 3 ozs. This was an important win for the Camden angler, whose career earnings are now just shy of $100,000. Rodgers' main tactic for the tournament was fishing finesse baits in deeper water. He used a spinning reel with 6-lb line and a drop-shot rig with 3/16-oz lead weights and Robo Worms. He used long leaders--as much as 4 ft. at times--between the weights and Robo Worms, allowing the weights to drop into the brush while his worm dangled atop it.

While weighing in 4 fish on the final day, Rodgers had only 1 fish in the livewell by 1:30, but proved that old fishing adage is true even when $65,000 is on the line--patience is the key to fishing. Rodgers added the other 3 fish before the weigh-in, including a 4-lb chunk that pushed him to winning the tournament by 6-ounces over 2nd place.

PhotoFromSCFishingReport: Camden pro angler Dearal Rodgers shows off two of his fish from day 1 of the FLW Cup.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

S.C. Ducks Unlimited - State Banquet photos

The Top DU chapters in South Carolina gathered with the 'top brass' of S.C. Ducks Unlimited to celebrate the 2010 state convention at the Embassy Suites in Columbia. Many subjects were discussed from the 'Carolina Connection,' a fundraising effort to raise $2.5 million sponsor dollars by the end of 2010 - to the 'Carolina Commanders' - the hunting club formed by DU members in the Chesterfield area. Awards were presented to the 'Granders' initiative for raising $100,000 for DU, as well as to chapters with the highest net gains, largest greenwing (youth) events, and even for those chapters that are simply 'flying right.' In conservation easement news, DU protected 8 properties in 2009 with the 1,087-acre Hermitage property on the Edisto River topping the list - a part of the ACE Basin. Another 400-acre Swamp Tract was protected in the ACE Basin on the Little Salkehatchie River - in Western Colleton County - where more protection efforts are desperately needed to safeguard the future water quality of all the ACE Basin.

PhotosByJeffDennis: Longtime volunteer Bob Murphy was honored with the 'Perpetual Trophy' by Jay Phillips and Bill Short; Doug Saunders presents the Granders Award to Marvin Davant and Jay Phillips officiates; Outgoing DU state chair Jay Phillips received many well wishes; Hugh McLaurin III and son Hugh IV donated custom Big Lake duck calls to the silent and live auction; Two 'susies' that support DU and their 'drakes'

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Buck Fever Day at Simpson's Hardware

Today, until 6 p.m., it's Buck Fever Day at Simpson's Hardware on Wesmark Blvd. in Sumter. Stop by for the big sales on items like shelled corn at $3.87 per bag and meet Hunter's Specialties pro Eddie Salter, who will be speaking on a range of topics including gear selection, hunting tactics, and of course, calling game. Also on hand is duck calling World Champion 14-yr. old Blake Hodge.

Free snacks and soft drinks are available to all who attend, and some items fall under the tax-free back-to-school weekend sale status, such as sandals which are 25% off. With an excellent selection of guns, fishing supplies, outdoors clothing, and typical hardware stock, it's no wonder Simpson's Hardware is the preferred hardware store for Sumter and beyond.

PhotosByBrianCope: The Remington Shooting Truck is on hand to practice your shooting skills. HS Strut Pro Eddie Salter is the featured speaker. This climbing tree stand is just one of many different types of stands on sale at Simpson's Hardware.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Ducks Unlimited - S.C. State Convention

The South Carolina Chapter of Ducks Unlimited will hold their annual state convention this weekend in Columbia. The weekend of events will be held at the Embassy Suites Hotel and is open to all S.C. DU members, volunteers and supporters. The main event is Saturday night's state awards banquet, which follows the State Chairman's cocktail reception. Tickets for the Saturday event are $50 and can be obtained by calling DU S.C. regional rep James Meadows at 843-870-0635. Special raffles will be held for a fishing trip to Costa Rica and for a gun vault with four mystery guns inside. Silent and live auction items will include hunting gear like the new S.C. custom-made If making an entire weekend of DU activities suits you - then come for the Friday night Happy Hour, as well as the Saturday morning 10 am business meeting. The S.C. DU convention was held in the upstate in 2009, and the Midlands are featured in the year 2010!

PhotoByJeffDennis: As the S.C. DU State Publicity Chair - my license plate sends a 'text' message to sportsmen - DU 2 DO

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wateree River Bush Lining for Cats

The Wateree River rose sharply early this week after rain pounded the upper stretches of the Catawba River chain. While this rise in water levels usually puts a damper on the bream and bass fishing, it's the perfect time to get out on the river and set bush lines for catfish.

Similar to trot lines, bush lines are single strands of cord that range from 50-pound test on up to 150, depending on personal preference. These strands are tied to limber branches that overhang the edges of the river. A sliding sinker (anywhere from 1-ounce on up to 7-ounces) is threaded onto the line, a barrel swivel is attached below the sinker, followed by another strand of line with a hook attached. Hook sizes range from 3/0 to 8/0 and are baited with shrimp, crawdads, or cut (or live) bait such as white perch or shad.

State law says these lines can be set an hour before official sunset, and must be checked within an hour of official sunrise. Some folks check them several times during the night, while others just check once in the morning. Those in the know set these lines when the river is set to rise because catfish will cruise these newly flooded areas looking for flooded wormbeds and other easy meals that have been unavailable to them during low water.

Earlier this week, a group of guys set out 7 bush lines and caught 2 40-pounders and a 30-pounder. Next time rain is forecast for the Lancaster/Rock Hill/Charlotte area, get out on the river and set some bush lines. Make sure you have the proper permits from the SCDNR and catch some cats.

PhotoProvidedbyBYJackson: Dr. Jo Jo Denton poses with a bush-lined giant caught during high-water on the Wateree River.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Topwater Action for trout and more

Check out my August saltwater column for South Carolina Sportsman magazine:

PhotoByJeffDennis: Just look at the battle scars on this topwater plug!!