The First Annual Carolina
Cafe (Camping And Fishing Expedition)
The South Carolina River
Fishing website has certainly come a long way since it began a couple years
ago. Our first get-together was last year when we had around 40 members, and
it was simply a float trip between Creekstalker, Dux-n-Dawgs, Lil PD River
Rat and myself. Oh, what a difference a year makes. We are now up to 113
enthusiastic members who were pumped and ready to attend what we now call
our annual get-together – Carolina CAFÉ.
The CAFÉ is a weekend of nothing but camping, fishing and telling fish
stories around the fire. This year we had 13 members of the SCRF website get
together between April 25the and 27th and partake in the making of memories,
nicknames and stories about the one that got away and even a few pictures of
the ones that managed to stay hooked.
It all began for me on Thursday as I came straight from work and headed to
the campsite to set up for the weekend. However, when I got there and looked
at the time I realized I had an hour and a half of daylight left. Hmmmm….what
to do, fish or set up camp? I convinced myself that since we have
electricity at the campsite and I had a light that I might as well get in
the water and take advantage of the late evening bite since I could set up
camp in the dark but I couldn’t fish in the dark. I was glad I did as I was
able to land this nice 4lb 10oz largemouth on a buzzbait.
Blackwater (Bill) also joined me to camp on Thursday
night. Friday, he and I met Striperfly (Pete) for some breakfast at the
Waffle House and then headed out to float a beautiful section of the Broad
River. We all were able to land at least one fish over four pounds and
Blackwater even lost a fish of a lifetime right at the boat. Today that fish
is rumored to be at least 9lbs, but I bet around the campfire next year the
story might suddenly change into a 10 or 12lber! Here is some scenery from
the day one float – the early birds. Blackwater and Striperfly partaking in
Blackwater reels in this 4lb smallmouth
Here I am after being blessed by this 4-7 smallmouth
A few more scenery shots. A river otter peaking its
head out of the river. They are rarely seen and hard to get close to. There
were three playing with one another in the middle of the river on this
Now, we were not the only early birds of the group.
Several members arrived well before their time cards had to be punched on
Friday afternoon. Redfishguide (Jack) and his lifelong fishing partner and
friend, Chuck, arrived. They were able to get some fishing in and Jack even
caught his biggest fly rod smallmouth ever – a three and a half pound fish.
Tardevil (Phil), DerekP (Derek, obviously), Lil PD River Rat (Hal), and
ShakyWorm89 (Will) also arrived on Friday and pretty much had camp set up by
the time we got back from the float trip. That night we did what fisherman
were born to do, tell stories and lies around a campfire. We were having
such a good time we didn’t want to retire – except Chuck but he is from New
Jersey so we’ll give him a break since he is getting acclimated to SC.
The next morning Chuck had energy and the rest of us
were beat, but still ready to go get on the river! Here we are on Saturday
We split up into two different floats on Saturday and
were also joined by Dux-n-Dawgs (Steven), CricketKiller (Jaime) and FBMoche
(Ron), who would later come to be known as Red Kayak. You see, that is what
happens when a bunch of virtual strangers get together and fish for the
first time – we don’t know names so we just make them up! FBMoche,
Redfishguide, Chuck, Tardevil, DerekP and I all made our way down the river
together, while Blackwater led Dux-n-Dawgs, CricketKiller, Lil PD and
Shakyworm down another stretch. Here are some of the folks on my float
getting ready for our trip at the put in.
And, they’re off!
The weather was beyond perfect for fishing and
paddling – slight wind with high temps in the low 80’s. Everyone caught fish
and most of us caught very nice sized fish or at least had our chances at
Here are some highlights of the Flyfishing duo of DerekP and Tardevil
And, of course Redfishguide and Chuck.
Redfishguide ended up catching the big fish of the
trip on this day – a 5lb smallmouth! This also happened to be RFG’s personal
best river smallmouth. DerekP has the picture and will be posting it when he
gets his film developed.
Here is Red Kayak, I mean, FBMoche, looking like a pro on his first ever
kayak fishing float trip! He is even standing up and catching bass out of
his Native Watercraft Ultimate 12! That is impressive for a first trip.
Look closely at that last picture and you will see
something missing, something crucial. A fishing reel! Somehow on the hookset
FBMoche’s rod and reel came apart! I was far away but had to get a picture
of him somehow trying to land this fish without a reel! By the way, he did
get that fish in the boat eventually but it was an adventure.
We saw some great scenery on our float as well. We even saw a couple bald
eagles but couldn’t get a picture of them.
Snake – look close!
Oh yeah, I was able to score a few of the finned
3 ½ smallie
4lb 14oz largemouth
4lb 4oz smallie
We got back to camp and had terrific venison
hamburgers courtesy of Lil PD River Rat and prepared by SCRF’s own chef,
Tardevil. We also heard swapped stories with the other group about their
trip. Turns out they had some adventures of their own, including getting
caught in a treacherous thunderstorm (which barely dodged us), Shakyworm and
Lil PD’s river towing service and catching a few nice fish like this 4 1/2lb
largemouth Lil PD caught.
Lil PD caught some good smallies too!
Here is what Lil PD and Shakyworm were able to do
with their Hobie peddle kayaks – start a towing service!
Oh and shakyworm can fish too! Here he is with his
first smallie weighing 3lbs and 1oz and a nice largemouth too.
Shakyworm and Lil PD
Dux looking cool
Cricket Killer looking fine
We stayed up way too late and finally all retired to
our tents knowing we would not be getting up early enough to make any float
trips on Sunday. However, we were all okay with that because it is the
fellowship and friendships that make these get-togethers memorable, not the
fish. Any big fish we catch are always just a bonus.
Sunday morning we all slept in and ended up having a
terrific breakfast made by Dux-n-Dawgs, with some assistance from
Here is the campsite of the duo from Beaufort known
as the wild bunch!
Here I am trying to get organized, which is always a
DerekP being DerekP, even with a fever all weekend!
Sunday we all fished around the campsite and still
had a great half day of fishing. Below is a picture of Chuck and
Redfishguide wading the shoals. Chuck was able to land another personal best
– a 6lb largemouth on the fly rod! I wish they would have had a camera with
them but they didn’t. Still another personal best at the CAFÉ!
Here Dux and Cricket Killer are getting unloaded for
a half day paddle and fishing trip.
My weekend was closed out with a nice 3 ½ lb
smallmouth and a solid 2 plus.
I am already excited about next year! However, the
rest of the SCRF gang and I are talking about doing a get-together on the
coast for redfish and sea trout in October. So, we may not even have to wait
a year! If you are interested in becoming a part of these great fishing
trips or just want a place to talk river fishing in South Carolina, it is
free to become a member of the website. All you have to do is join the
message board and you are a member.
See you on the water,