Wednesday, March 23, 2011

First Fish

This is a great time of year to turn a youngster on to fishing. The cold weather has given way to spring and kids are eager to spend as many hours outdoors as possible. For those kids who have yet to catch their first fish, now is the perfect time to get them to a pond.

Diego Moore recently joined his dad and me to get a cure for his fishing itch. With a cup of nightcrawlers and a pair of Zebco 202 combos, the adults baited hooks and cast out lines, handing the reeling duties off to Diego, who caught 10 bream in about 15 minutes. His reactions ranged from crying to giggling. And every time I see him now, he wants to know "when do we go fishy again?"

Soon Diego. Soon....

PhotosByBrianCope: Fishless no more, Diego Moore shows he has joined the rank of anglers.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Catawba River Kayak Fishing

I recently joined professional kayak angler Drew Gregory for a fishing excursion to the Catawba River just below the Lake Wylie Dam. Drew was demonstrating his signature series fishing kayak, the Coosa by Jackson Kayak, and of course a little fishing was in order.
We caught several largemouth bass on the day, and Drew caught a large gar that really put up a fight. The Coosa performed well and has some features that make it a unique river fishing kayak. Drew doesn't care for fishing in lakes, ponds, or the ocean. River fishing is where it's at as far as he is concerned, so he designed the Coosa with that in mind.

One of the river specific features on this kayak is a built-in recessed area for a drag chain, which slows your drift and also keeps your kayak pointed in the desired direction. The Coosa is also very stable for standing up, which is always helpful when fishing for Mr. Bucketmouth.

The Coosa is available at most kayak outfitters, including River Runners in Columbia. Or check out

PhotosByBrianCope: The big swirl of the gar, and the prize fish in Drew's hand. For a junk fish, that sure is a beaut!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Perfect Fishing Weather

The midlands has been blessed with great fishing weather for the past week. Dalton Reames and Morgan Watt took advantage of this over the weekend to fish the Rocky Bluff Swamp that runs through Sumter County. The water was a little too high to find a real hotspot, but the anglers found a few redbreast here and there tossing Beetlespins and other 1/16th-ounce spinners.

No rain is expected this week, and the trees throughout the swamp are budding, which will suck a lot of water from the stream, so the water level should drop quickly. This will concentrate the fish more and make for better fishing next time.

PhotoByBrianCope: Dalton Reames show off a hefty redbreast bream.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

SCWF Sponsors Nature Walks This Month

We've been having some great weather in the midlands lately, and it's a great time of year for a nature walk. The South Carolina Wildlife Federation will host two nature walks designed for families. The first will take place March 19 at the Carolina Children's Garden which is located at the Clemson Extension Education Center on Clemson Road in Columbia.

The second walk will be held March 26 at Riverfront Park (4120 River Dr.) Both walks are free, but you must register in advance by emailing

The walks are a part of the National Wildlife Federation's Green Hour Program which stresses the need for kids to get outside for at least an hour a day. Certain plants, rocks, insects, and wildlife will be noted by naturalists leading the walks.

For more information on these walks, and on other programs sponsored by SCWF, visit the Federations website at

Monday, March 7, 2011

Tree Farmer Volunteer of the year Award

The 65th Anniversary of the S.C. Tree Farm program was commemorated by a Legislative lobby day at the statehouse in Columbia on March 2. Approximately 50 Tree Farm representatives gathered at 8 a.m. to get in a full day of activities, with an equal balance of landowners and forestry professionals attending. As one part of the day-long event, Jeff Dennis was awarded the Master Tree Farmer program 2010 Volunteer of the Year for my work raising awareness about forestry in Colleton County and the ACE Basin. To read more about these efforts please visit Jeff's website at and click on the PL-ACE button. As a small private landowner and advocate for the natural resources of the Lowcountry, JeffDennis will continue to showcase the positive aspects of the outdoors. Special thanks go the the House and Senate for passing a resolution in support of the S.C. Tree Farm system's contributions to the forestry industry. For more information on the S.C. Tree Farm click here. Special thanks go to Sen. Chip Campsen for recognizing Volunteer Award recipient from the floor of the Senate, and for being a champion for sportsmen and conservation.

For a report on click here.

PhotosByJeffDennis: Rep. Chip Limehouse recognized Jeff Dennis at the press conference in the capital rotunda and is here with Denise Bonnette, the S.C. Tree Farm Committee Chair; the Tree Farm logo is universal nationwide; members of the Tree Farm green shirt team await the press conference; the Volunteer award plaque was a very sturdy and attractive wood product - most fitting for a Tree Farmer!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wood Duck Box Maintenance

Central Carolina Technical College's Natural Resource Management Program students met with the SCDNR this morning to help do maintenance on the wood duck boxes at Hickory Top WMA. DNR's Chris Orange and Ed Laney were on hand to give instruction on the details of the Wood Duck Box Program, and the students then went about wading through the flooded areas to count eggs, clean out old debris, remark the boxes, and add new shavings for bedding.

Orange warned the students about some of the dangers of this project--including wasps, snakes, and alligators, but fortunately no such pests were encountered this time. The remains of several hatched eggs were found as well as a couple of unhatched eggs.

The boxes are important to wood ducks because they provide additional nesting sites, and are equipped with predator shields that do a much better job at keeping out snakes and such than an unshielded hole in a tree does.

Want to make your own wood duck boxes? Visit this portion of the SCDNR website at

PhotosByBrianCope: Kellen Thompkins (foreground) and Justin Leviner (behind duck box) are students in CCTC's NRM program, and are seen here checking a wood duck box. These two unhealthy eggs went unhatched, and were discarded prior to installing new wood shavings.