Daily Limit: Three and history

USS Yorktown, one of 24 Essex-class aircraft carriers, sits proudly in Patriots Point.

The U.S.S. Yorktown, one of 24 Essex-class aircraft carriers, sits proudly in Patriots Point as Brandon Coulter makes his way through Charleston Harbor to the Cooper River. (Photo by Bassmaster Marshal Richard Petty)

The event is down to three anglers, each hoping to make a little history for themselves.

Before we get to that, let’s take a quick look into the history of the Low Country of South Carolina, which has so graciously hosted the Huk Performance Fishing Bassmaster Elite at Winyah Bay presented by GoRVing. The fishing derby is tied directly to the Winyah Bay Heritage Festival, after all.

First off, we should start with Winyah, the name of the native Americans who plied these same waters eons ago. Winyah, just one of many places here that takes its name from Indian culture, is said to mean People of the Black Water.

The first foreigners to travel in the region were Spaniards. In fact, some historians claim American history really began here in 1526 with a failed settlement. Successful ones came, like Georgetown (1729), the third oldest city in South Carolina and its second largest port.

The busy seaports along the coast brought more than 2,000 pirates, including Edward Teach, aka Blackbeard. He was known for dressing to look like a demon from hell — the better to scare his victims into surrender — including smoke-producing fuses in his beard. Lt. Robert Maynard and crew ambushed and killed Blackbeard up the coast near Ocraroke Island. Blackbeard suffered five bullet wounds and 20 saber slashes before dying, and legend has it his decapitated body swam around the boat before sinking into the briny deeps. Arrrrrrgh.

Plantation life took over with crops of rice and indigo, and British taxation brought regional players into Revolutionary War roles. Thomas Lynch, Jr. was among the original signers of the Declaration of Independence, and planter Christopher Gadsden designed the “Don’t Tread on Me” flag. Another local planter, Francis Marion and his crew fought back the British, earning the nickname “Swamp Fox.” George Washington even visited Georgetown’s Masonic Lodge in 1791 to recognize these heroes.

There’s tons more in the region’s historical timeline, and the Elites traveling to the Cooper River have seen some each day. At the entrance of Charleston Harbor are two historic forts, Moultrie and Sumter. The first fort, built of palmetto logs, inspired the flag and nickname of South Carolina, “The Palmetto State.”

Northeast in Charleston Harbor is Patriot’s Point, a naval museum that houses several U.S. warships, including an aircraft carrier and submarine, and 29 aircraft from WWII to present-day operations.

So when the good people gather for the Heritage Festival, they have some real history to celebrate.

The Winyah Bay Heritage Festival includes local merchants and  artisans, and a highlight is the state’s duck calling championship. Its winner goes to the famous World’s Championship Duck Calling Contest in Stuttgart, Ark.


While Saturday saw a flipflop, it’s still a three-man race, involving the same three from Friday. Brett Hite, Kelly Jordon and Britt Myers are the only ones who have a legitimate shot to win.

Myers led KJ and Hite by 5 pounds after Day 2, but Hite flipped that with his 18-pound bag Saturday and now leads Myers by 3-4. Jordon weighed a solid 16-4 and is only 1-2 out of the lead.

While Jordon busted the biggest bag of the event on Friday at 24-7, Hite might hold the edge because his area historically replenishes better. Hite is among the anglers making the long run to the Cooper River and fishing near abandoned rice fields. Hite said he even has new areas nearby.

“I found a bunch of spots strategically close,” he said. “I can keep an eye on them. It’s time management. When you only have four hours, you can’t be running around, you need to be fishing.”

Hite, of Phoenix, Ariz., started fishing Bassmaster events out west in 1998, expanded his range and made two Classics before an 8-year hiatus. He excelled in the FLW before returning to B.A.S.S. in 2013. He won in his first Elite event in 2014 on Lake Seminole, and he qualified for the past two Classics, taking seventh in 2015.

A second Elite trophy would sure look good on his mantle, he said.

“It would be awesome. It’s hard to compete at this level and have the opportunities. You have to really cherish it,” he said, adding what he needed to do to win. “Just go put my head down and go catch some of those big Cooper River largemouth.”


You nailed it this time, DM.

Dave Mercer was back with a second attempt at his new “Meet the Locals” segment on LIVE, which had fizzled on Day 2 with River John because of bad cell service.

The feed for an interview with Classic qualifier John Proctor went off perfectly. Proctor was in his hometown of Conway, S.C., and he and Mercer talked with Randall Tharp fishing behind them. First topic was if he’d be fishing the Cooper River.

“I wouldn’t make the run,” Proctor said, “but I’d be worried about the guys who did. For me, personally I don’t have the expertise on the Cooper River that it takes to win a tournament like this.”

Proctor wasn’t sure an angler could win on any of the rivers that feed into Winyah Bay.

“It’s going to be hard, especially in an area like this,” he said. “You start taking them out, they’re not going to replenish. On the Cooper, in a big expansive flat, more fish are going to move in and out of areas like that.”

They noted a number of guys who didn’t make the Cooper work, like Skeet Reese and Luke Clausen, who both zeroed on Day 1, and Davy Hite, who ran aground and took a DQ on Day 2.

“I think three of the top 10 went to the Cooper River,” Proctor said. “You can catch a big bag one day and not the next. It’s a place that probably will win the tournament, but it’s not an automatic.”

Hey Mercer, we appreciate your segments but want you to bring back the wildly popular “Ingest an Insect.”


Kelly Jordon’s spot up the Santee River produced more than bass. He was catching pickerel and giving them to a couple of local anglers stocking up for a fish fry.

That got Mark Zona to start drooling and divulge his love of eating pike, and to share his latest secret.

“When I fry pike, or walleye, or whatnot — parmesan cheese,” he said. “I’m talking about smokin’, red hot, put on some cheese right when you take it out.”

His other tip was to put a half a stick of butter-flavored Crisco in the oil, “Trust me — and never go full stick.”

As he prefers a lighter breading, Zona said there’s a special Michigan-made brand available around Sturgis that suits him — he even mails it to friends. A substitute around most of the country is Frying Magic.

Question: Does Karin clean fish? How about the twins?


The crowd at Winyah Bay gets a big shoutout for showing out Saturday. Ben Ashby sent in this shot of an audience that might just help set an attendance record. The festival will certainly aid in getting folks there, and its certain a great number will stick around to see what the Elites catch in their fishery.


As the last man in the top 12, Gerald Swindle had plenty to say, as usual. Probably would have said the same things if he missed the final cut.

Besides saying he felt out of his element having to slowly flip a 500-yard stretch, the G-Man offered a couple Classic lines to show his boredom with the technique.

“I was playing bingo in my head and sang ‘Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round.’ I don’t do good letting my cricket sit there and swell up with water.”

Then he exaggerated a bit on the anglers who landed big fish. He managed bags of 10-5, 11-9 and 12-15 but told the crowd, “They’re hurting my feelings. They catch more in one fish than I catch in one day.”


  • Cold, cold, cold. It will be freezing cold for the final 12 launching Sunday. Temps at dusk were around 50 but expected to dip to around 35 degrees by dawn. The forecast is for sun switching to partly cloudy by 2 p.m., but it will be much calmer with winds staying in single digits throughout the day.
  • This by no means is the greatest photo Seigo Saito has ever taken, but it certainly tells a story. The mud lines on the plantlife show the influence of tides, which is pretty amazing because Kelly Jordon was fishing miles way inland up the Santee River.