Hello, and welcome to South Carolina Natural Resources, a blog created and maintained by the staff of the S.C. Department of Natural Resource’s Office of Media and Outreach.

Over the coming months, we hope to bring to our readers a lively daily discussion on topics related to natural resources conservation, hunting and fishing, outdoor recreation and tourism, SCDNR projects and initiatives, and other news and information that will be of value to our state’s sporting and conservation communities. It’s just one more way the SCDNR is working to fulfill its mission as the primary steward of and advocate for our state’s amazing natural resources.

Whether you are lucky enough to be a Sandlapper by birth, or are one of the many thousands of folks who have “voted with their feet” to make South Carolina their adopted home, you know without a doubt that this is one special place. With the responsibility for managing more than 1 million acres of wild public lands (and counting), the SCDNR has a huge responsibility to the present and future citizens of this state. And we know that it is the sportsmen and women, the hunters and anglers, and the other individuals who love spending time in the outdoors, who make wildlife and natural resources in this state and in the United States work. Without the funding provided through hunting and fishing licenses and permits and the excise taxes paid on outdoor sporting goods equipment, firearms and ammunition, as well as the working partnerships with landowners and sportsman’s groups, our amazing conservation efforts would be a fraction of what they are today. So for that we say, “thanks,” and please come back and visit often to find out what your state Department of Natural Resources and the larger outdoor community in South Carolina are up to.  We value your input, so if you have ideas for topics you’d like to see covered here, please contact site administrator David Lucas at lucasd@dnr.sc.gov. We look forward to hearing from you.

Fisherman's Favorite

Fisherman's Favorite

For sure, there are larger freshwater gamefish to chase (largemouth bass and crappie spring to mind), including a panopoly of options in the sunfish family, but for South Carolinians raised on cane poles, crickets and coastal plain blackwater rivers, there will always be something special about hauling in a brightly colored redbreast (Lepomis auritus) during the heat of summer. 

The brightly-colored redbreast sunfish is a summertime favorite in South Carolina's coastal plain rivers.

The brightly-colored redbreast sunfish is a summertime favorite in South Carolina's coastal plain rivers.

Maybe it’s the fact that none of our other native freshwater fishes packs quite the same visual wallop as the redbreast, a feisty fighter with a colorful underbelly.  Or maybe it’s the primordial stillness of the coastal plain’s meandering tea-stained blackwater rivers.  But one thing’s for sure, for first-timers and old-timers alike, nothing puts a smile on their faces like a hard-pulling, colorful redbreast on lightweight tackle.

                Redbreast can be found in many of South Carolina’s coastal plain river systems, but the blackwater Pee Dee system (along with the Edisto system to the south) is known in particular as a hot redbreast fishery.  That reputation was in danger, just a few short years ago, when redbreast fishing in the region began to decline from its historic peaks.  An invasive, non-native species, the flathead catfish, took most of the blame for the decline in redbreast fishing, and there’s no doubt it has had some impact, but after studying the problem in-depth, DNR biologists realized that historically bad drought conditions across the state between 1998 and 2002 had also taken a major toll.

The scenic Little Pee Dee River is re-gaining its reputation as a redbreast hotspot, thanks to a DNR stocking program.

The scenic Little Pee Dee River is re-gaining its reputation as a redbreast hotspot, thanks to a DNR stocking program.

                Two factors have helped mitigate those problems, and in recent years, the redbreast bite in the Pee Dee has been stronger.  First, the rainfall picture has improved greatly, and second, juvenile redbreast raised at the DNR’s Cheraw and Dennis Center fish hatcheries have been stocked into Pee Dee rivers – the Pee Dee, Little Pee Dee, Black and Lynches -- by the tens of thousands during the fall months, fish that will be ready to spawn the following spring, according to DNR Fisheries Chief Ross Self.

                “Right now the redbreast numbers in these rivers looks pretty good,” said Self. “We believe that our sustained stocking efforts have played a significant role in the return of stable redbreast populations in those rivers.”

Where to go:  The Little Pee Dee River in Dillon County was designated a State Scenic River in 2005, and the DNR-published Boating Guide to Little Pee Scenic River Water Trail provides a detailed description of river access and boating options (as well as natural and cultural history) for a 27-mile section of this scenic river from Moccasin Bluff Landing, just north of the City of Dillon, to Huggins Bridge Landing at SC Highway 41. The Black River and Lynches River are also prime redbreast waters, and accommodations, guides and other information about the region is readily available from the Pee Dee Tourism Commission.

What to use:  Keeping it simple is the name of the game where redbreast are concerned. Light spinning tackle is all you need – no more than 4-6 lb-test line, and a lightweight, flexible rod is best though in some cases, a cane pole or synthetic “bream buster” with just a #4 hook and a split shot fished on the bottom is the best rig of choice for getting underneath overhanging shade (a wise strategy).  When fishing with live bait, crickets seem to be the bait of choice, although some people prefer worms. For artificial lures options, small beetle spins – again on light tackle are a popular option.

A Walk in the Woods at Victoria Bluff Heritage Preserve

A Walk in the Woods at Victoria Bluff Heritage Preserve

Big scores and big fun at the NASP World Tournament in Myrtle Beach

Big scores and big fun at the NASP World Tournament in Myrtle Beach