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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 some lunch.

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 morning.



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 morning.

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 some.

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.

Muskrat

Geese

Snake – look close!

Oh yeah, I was able to score a few of the finned wildlife myself.

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!

2-10

3-15

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 Cricketkiller.

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 challenge.

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,

BasserDrew

 

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