When Anthony Miller and his family decided to come to Santee Cooper Country for the first time, they expected to catch a handful of keepers to take back to their home in Hiddenite, North Carolina. But when his 17-year-old son, Logan, wrestled an 82-pound Arkansas Blue into Guide Linwood Thornhill’s boat, a fantastic trip out of Black’s Camp turned into an epic adventure.
On Friday, November 20, a passing cold front brought a steady north wind across Lake Moultrie. For guide Thornhill (843-509-8174), the deep water region of the lake near Pinopolis dam would be rough. But the day before, guide Gene Crawford, also fishing out of Black’s Camp, caught a 76-pound monster in these same waters. Besides the rough and rocky conditions, the bite was nearly non-existent at first after making two very long drifts across the deep water ledge for Thornhill.
“Lord have mercy, what has happened,” said Thornhill. (843-509-8174) “We were fishing in the same place Gene and I caught them yesterday.”
Thornhill powered back to the edge of the ledge again for one last drift and started marking fish everywhere on his sounder.
“As soon as I got the lines out, they started biting strong and rods were doubling over everywhere,” he said.
The Millers started heaving in catfish left and right, just about to fill up the cooler with nearly 200-pounds of tasty blue catfish. With the cooler almost full, and the anglers about worn out for the day, Thornhill gave them a few more minutes to fill up the rest of the space in his cooler.
Another fish hit off the side of the boat and one of the anglers started fighting the fish. Logan Miller was standing next to the rails watching the fish being pulled in until the rod behind him got a hit and started to double over with line ripping off the reel about as fast as possible. But he was looking the other way until Thornhill hollered to him.
“Grab that rod Logan, that’s a good one,” said Thornhill.
The fish was pulling drag so hard, the rod was lodged in the rod holder. It took two of them to get the rod out of the holder, but Logan finally got the rod into his hands and began the battle.
After a long fight, Logan wore out the fish and himself at the same time, finally guiding the 82-pound monster into Thornhill’s landing net.
“I am a beginner fisherman, but I could tell that it was a bigger fish,” said Logan Miller. “I didn’t know they could pull like that. I couldn’t believe how big he was. It was amazing.”
Immediately, they covered the fish with a wet towel and headed back to Black’s Camp to weigh the fish on the certified scales. After weighing the fish, they put it in a holding tank allowing the fish to regain her strength. After several days, they will return the fish back into Lake Moultrie.
Miller’s 82-pound catfish is the third trophy catfish caught over the last week in Lake Moultrie. According to Kevin Davis of Black’s Camp, it is that time of year when the big ones start to show up and anglers really get a chance to catch a trophy catfish on our lakes.
“Great time to be fishing Santee Cooper. They have produced a 90, 76, and now an 82-pounder all in one week,” said Davis. (843-312-3080) “Herring and mullet in deep water is the trick right now and I wouldn’t be surprised if another big one showed up next week.”