The decision by Santee Cooper, the South Carolina Public Service Authority, to spray aquatic herbicide on parts of Lake Marion before and during the Bassmaster Southern Open in late October may have been more of a public relations gaffe than an actual problem for fishermen.

That was the opinion of the highest-finishing South Carolina pro in the tournament, Ken Ellis of Bowman, who wound up in seventh place.

"A lot of people are making a big deal out of that, but on the last day of the tournament, I needed two fish real bad, and I went right in there where they were spraying and caught four keepers," said Ellis who finished with 32.1 pounds and won $5,760.

Ellis said the vegetation that was sprayed is called floating heart, and grass carp, which have been stocked to control nuisance aquatic grass, won't eat it.

The brouhaha erupted after a helicopter and airboats were used to spray the aquatic vegetation during the tournament.

Laura Varn, a spokeswoman for Santee Cooper, told The Sumter Item that the "vast majority of the spraying was done two weeks in advance of the tournament."

"We did perform a minor airboat spray on Oct. 22, the first day of the tournament, in a small section of Eutaw Creek," Varn said. "This was 18 acres out of the total of 200 acres. We have a responsibility to balance the multiple uses of the lake. This includes recreational enjoyment, such as this wonderful bass tournament, with the responsibility to properly control the crested floating heart."

In the newspaper story, Brett Mitchell of Timmonsville said 15 boats were fishing in Eutaw Creek when an airboat began spraying about 9 a.m. the first day of the tournament.

"We had to move on. There was no way we could fish after that. The noise itself was enough to hurt the fishing, not to mention the chemical," he said.

Mitchell said he understands the need for spraying vegetation but wondered about the timing since floating heart has been growing in the lake for the past four or five years.

Mitchell said the spraying "killed the fishing" for the weekend tournament. And Alan Glasgow of Ashville, Ala., who won the tournament with 38.6 pounds, said he felt a lot of the anglers should have weighed in 60 pounds or more.

But Ellis said a cold snap the days before the tournament probably had more to do with the drop- off in normal October success than the spraying.

But, as often is the case, perception is what counts.

Joe Avin of Summerton, president of Santee Bass Matters, said after the final weigh-in that major tournaments on Santee Cooper could be endangered because of the spraying issue.

"There are only two national tournaments on the lake this year," he said. "I don't expect there'll be any next year. People are not going to come back. Please bear in mind, these folks had traveled from as far away as California to participate in this event. Many thousands of dollars were spent in registration, as well as monies spent in staying as long as three weeks prior in our area."

In fact, neither BASS nor FLW Outdoors has scheduled any tournaments on any South Carolina lakes for 2010.

Besides Ellis, a handful of South Carolina anglers placed in the tournament.

Wade Grooms of Bonneau was eighth in the boater division with 31.4 pounds, winning $5,404; Chuck Howard of Elloree was 13th with 29.9 for $2,160; Alan Rae of Columbia was 15th with 27.9 pounds for $1,620, and Cecil Wolfe of Hanahan was 19th with 25.9 for $1,332.

Earnie Jones of Dalzell was tops among non-boaters, finishing fifth with 20-0 for $1,800; John Wilson of Summerton was sixth with 18.3 for $1,620; 11. Don Griffin of Sumter was 11th with 16.6 for $792, and Mike Lumpkins of Charleston was 15th with 15.9 for $576.

 

Montgomery, Auten close in PAA

Eight ounces.

That's how close Andy Montgomery of Blacksburg was to winning the final Professional Anglers Association tournament on Texas' Toledo Bend Lake in early October, AND the PAA championship, the Toyota Texas Bass Classic a week later on Lake Conroe.

"To be that close to winning two weeks in a row is kind of hard to swallow," Montgomery said. "Not winning at least one of them, being that close, especially with the money difference, is really hard."

Montgomery finished second in the PAA championship with 45 pounds, 8 ounces, just behind pro Dave Lefebre's 46-12, which won the ,$250,000 first prize. In the Toledo Bend PAA Montgomery had 49.63 pounds, while the winner, Rick Morris, had 50.16 pounds.

At Toledo Bend, Montgomery's shot at the title slipped away when Morris boated a 9-pound bass on the last day. At Conroe, Lefebre caught the fish that put him over the top just 15 minutes before the tournament ended.

Ironically, Montgomery might have had a clear shot at the championship if he had not been fishing the same creek with another South Carolina pro, Todd Auten of Lake Wylie.

"Todd and I were fishing pretty close together and we finished close together, second and third," Montgomery said. "That last day, if either one of had had the area to ourselves we probably would have won, but that's fishing."

Auten agreed.

"Either one of us could have won the thing. Maybe if one of us had not been fishing the same water one of us would have done better."

 

Wessinger wins striper tournament

Claire Wessinger of Newberry won the Midland Striper Club's annual 2009 Lady Angler Tournament Sept. 26 on Lake Murray with two fish that weighed 29 pounds, three ounces, including the largest striper of the tournament at 15-14.

Eight lady anglers weighed in 12 fish in the half-day outing. Each angler was limited to two fish at weigh-in.

Madison Plaxco of Rock Hill finished second, with two stripers that weighed 9-15. Christy Mulligan of Columbia was third with two fish that weighed 9-3.

 

Branhams win crappie opener

Joe Branham and "Little Joe" Branham, both of Lugoff, weighed in 10.03 pounds, including the second big fish at 1.82 pounds, to win the first Southern Crappie tournament trail event of the year Oct. 10 on Fishing Creek, winning $1,236.

Charles Knight and Robert Jackson of Camden, who finished fifth with 7.71 pounds, had the big fish at 1.92 pounds and won $556.

 

Goodfellow third on Women's tour

Martha Goodfellow of Simpsonville finished 13th in the Bassmaster Women's Tour Championship Oct. 18 on Louisiana's Cypress Black Bayou Lake, but that was enough for her to hold onto third place in the Angler of the Year points standings.

Goodfellow weighed in seven bass over the three days for a total of six pounds, seven ounces.

On the pro side, Judy Wong of Many, La., won the tournament with 15 bass that weighed 36-10 for $60,000, while Pam Martin-Wells of Bainbridge, Ga., finished second with 31-11 ounces to take home $43,000 and win the Angler of the Year honors and a spot in the 2010 Bassmaster Classic.

 

Langston wins Lake Norman BFL

The first time Lynn Langston had ever been on Lake Norman was the Sunday before the Walmart BFL regional championship Oct. 22-24, but he managed to win the tournament by sticking with what he does best - hitting the pockets and flipping the docks.

Langston, of Timmonsville, weighed in 13 bass for the three days that weighed 30 pounds, one ounce, to take first place and win a full-rigged Ranger boat and a Chevy pickup truck. He also qualified for the 2010 BFL All-American.

"I went up there the Sunday before and the Wednesday before the tournament started, so I had just two days to figure the lake out," Langston said. "Flipping jigs around docks is just my style of fishing. I'm a bait runner. I usually try to catch my fish on a spinnerbait or a jig. I'm not a deep fisherman, so I targeted largemouths instead of spotted bass."

George Hirapetian of Charlotte, N.C., won a fully-rigged Ranger bass boat as the co-angler winner with 14 bass that weighed 21-12. Chad Griffin of Ninety Six was the top South Carolina finisher, taking third with 18-1 for $750.

 

Rikard third in Clarks Hill BFL

Greg Rikard of Leesville weighed in 15 bass at 26 pounds, nine ounces, to take third place and win $1,500 in the Walmart BFL regional Oct. 19 at Clarks Hill.

Tim Staley of Dowelltown, Tenn., won the Regional Championship with a 3-day catch of 14 bass weighing 29-15.

 

Willimon is BFL winner on Hartwell

Greg Willimon of Pickens won the Walmart BFL South Carolina Division 2-day Super Tournament on Lake Hartwell Oct. 5 with a 10 bass that weighed 36 pounds, one ounce, worth $4,943.

Willimon said he caught schooling fish in the lower section of the lake with a Super Fluke.

Rounding out the top five boaters were: 2. Marty Robinson of Lyman, 10 bass, 29-4, $2,471; 3. Joey Sabbagha of Little Mountain, 10, 28-5, $1,648; 4. Brad Fowler of Pendleton, 10, 27-14, $1,153; and 5. Blake Campbell of Anderson, 10, 27-8, $989.

Campbell took the Boater Division big bass award with a 6-4 lunker to win an additional $607.

Greg Glouse of Easley finished first in the co-anger division with 10 fish that weighed 21-7, a win worth $2,471. Rounding out the top five co-anglers were: 2. Joel Wood of Union, 9, 17-15, $1,236; 3. John Cook of Matthews, N.C., 10, 17-9, $822; 4. Russell Steen of Hartsville, 10, 16-6, $577; and 5. Marc Marsh of Cheraw, 7, 15-2, $494. Charles Wood of Thomasville, N.C., won $304 for the co-angler big fish with a 4-10 bass.

 

Samples win Patrick event

David Sample of Elgin and Chris Sample of Lexington weighed in 13.72 pounds to win the 12th annual Jamey Patrick Tournament on Lake Murray Oct. 24 and collect $1,250 for first place. The Samples caught their fish on topwater lures over points and brushpiles.

The tournament is held each year to raise funds for an endowment at Newberry College in honor or Patrick, who died when he was 32 years old from a rare virus that affected his heart.

Howard Stephens of Columbia and Mark McCormick of Chapin weighed in 12.69 pounds for second place and $450.

Chip Lominick and Mike Stroud of Little Mountain finished fourth and also took big fish honors with a 5.14-pound bass.

 

Cobb wins Greenwood ABA

Brandon Cobb of Greenwood, a member of Clemson's Bass Team, weighed in five fish at 12.37 pounds, including a 6.29-pound lunker, to win the American Bass Association's D-96 tournament Oct. 11 on Lake Greenwood.

Cobb, who won a total of $916, fished the middle and lower part of the lake, working topwater baits early and worms around docks later in the day.

Rodney Cromer of Pomaria was second with five fish that weighed 12.08 pounds, including the second big fish at 6.24 pounds; he won $485.

Rounding out the top five were: 3. George Berry of Saluda, 5, 11.69, $141; 4. Phillip Anderson of Saluda, 5, 11.69 pounds, $110; and 5. Sean Anderson of Saluda, 5, 11.33 pounds, $78.

 

BASS TOURNAMENTS

Carolina Anglers Team Trail

Lake Murray, Oct. 3,

1. Kevin Fulmer (Prosperity)-Al Fortner (Ninety Six), 5, 15-2, $615; 2. Sean Anderson (Saluda)-George Berry (Batesburg), 5, 13-14, $261; 3. Howard Stephens (Columbia)-Mark McCormick (Chapin), 5, 13-4, $100. Big Fish: Mike Ward (Irmo)-Rob Thames (Lexington), 4-15, $119.

 

Carolina Anglers Team Trail

Lake Wylie, Oct. 10

1. Jeff Hagar (Alexis, N.C.)-Robert Stiltner (Mt. Mourne, N.C.), 5, 16-2, $800; 2. Louie Hull (Casar, N.C.)-Chuck Montgomery (Grover, N.C.), 5, 15-13, $360; 3. Chris Carroll-Larry Denton (Kings Mountain, N.C.), 5, 14-6, $250; 4. Tim Chapman (Kings Mountain, N.C.)-Eddie Smith (Gastonia, N.C.), 13-11, $250; 5. Jeremy Cabe (Rock Hill)-Marco Malucelli (Fort Mill), 11-8, $100. Big Fish: Gene Webster-Peyton Webster, 4-6, $203.

 

Carolina Anglers Team Trail

Lake Wateree, Oct. 10

1. Steve Pizzino-Dave Murdock (Sumter), 5, 11-2, including second big fish, 3-9, $556; 2. Walt Almond (McBee)-Chad Rabon (Camden), 5, 11-1, $620; 3. Josh McGregor (Timmonsville)-Randall Driggers (Turbeville), 10-12, $200; 4. William Richardson-Forrest Blocker (Irmo), 10-3, $100; Big Fish: Darryl Clark-Steve Borton (Sumter), 3-11, $154.

 

Carolina Anglers Team Trail

Lake Wylie, Oct. 17, 2009

1. Johnny Council-Eric Weir (Gastonia, N.C.), 5, 16-2, including 6-1 big fish, $747; 2. Lee Smith-Eddie Smith, (Gastonia, N.C.), 5, 14-12, including 4-11 second big fish, $363; 3. Chad Lail-Rick LaMountain (Grover, N.C.), 5, 13-1, $150; 4. Steven Helms (Lowell, N.C,)-Patrick Helms (Gastonia, N.C.), 12-1, $100.

 

Carolina Anglers Team Trail

Lake Wateree, Oct. 17, 2009

1. Alan Fletcher-Danny Johnson (Hartsville), 5, 13-8, including 3-9 second big fish, $834; 2. Tim Haven (Lugoff), 5, 12-9, including 4-9 big fish, $351; 3. Donald Hinson (Lugoff), 11-4, $100.

Tournament directors: Send your schedules and your tournament results in the format shown as soon as possible after your tournaments. Results MUST include names, hometowns, number of fish caught, total weight, prize money and big fish information. Email to Pat Robertson: patrob@upthecreek.net.