Few things are more special for a father than watching his children enjoy fishing as much as he does. It’s even better to watch them catch a real trophy, and that’s exactly what happened when 11-year-old Ethan Edwards of Maiden, N.C. was handed the rod while drifting for catfish on Lake Marion in South Carolina. With the help of his dad, Frank Edwards, and guide Scott Cole, the young angler landed a 92.8-pound blue.
Frank Edwards regularly takes his two sons fishing (Ethan and 8-year-old Tyler). But, when he wanted them to experience some of the Santee Cooper Lakes’ legendary blues, he enlisted the services of Cole, who runs Captain Scott’s Catfish Guide Service (704-472-4450). On Dec. 29th, they left the dock at 7 a.m. with a fresh supply of cut mullet and headed to the upper lake near Hill’s Landing Marina where they set out drifting a spread of 1-ounce Santee rigs in 30 feet of water through the river channel.
“We had been fishing for a few hours,” said Frank Edwards. “Tyler had already caught a 25 pounder and Ethan had only caught some 2 to 3 pounders, so he was really ragging on him. It started getting windy and rough and we had to move to somewhere more calm, but we weren’t catching anything and we went back.”
When they got back in the channel it started to rain and before long they were in monsoon conditions. That’s when the rod went down.
“He slammed it,” said Cole, a resident of Shelby, N.C. “He took it almost down to the water and never let off it. I picked it up because I knew the young man wouldn’t be able to get it out of the rod holder, fought it part of the way, and gave it to him.”
“He felt really big,” said Ethan Edwards. “I said, ‘It’s going to be a big one!’”
During the 20-minute fight, Cole was on standby to aid in rod handling as Ethan got the hang of the “lift up, reel down” technique of fighting a big fish. But, eventually the beast was boat side and that's when dad jumped in.
“Tyler and I had stayed in the enclosure on the pontoon,” said Frank Edwards. “I didn’t know how serious it was. I thought it was another 20 or 30 pounder. Scott told me to grab the net, so I went outside and got it. The fish just about wouldn’t fit; only three-fourths of it was in the net.”
On Cole’s hand scales, the fish weighed 80 pounds with a portion of the tail still resting on the boat. Ethan Edwards had a choice to make. Keep the fish, let it go on site, or rush it 5 miles to Hill’s Landing Marina for a quick weigh-in on certified scales and release. Ethan chose the latter. Cole spread a wet drift sock on the catch and radioed the marina so they would be ready.
At the scales, Ethan was met with plenty of slaps on the back and congratulations as he stood for pictures with his guide. The fish tipped the scales at 92.8 pounds. Its length was measured at 52 inches long and its girth was 38 inches. It was resuscitated and released at the marina.