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.

It Takes a Nation . . .

It Takes a Nation . . .

When the Bassmaster Classic fishing tournament and Expo returns to Lake Hartwell for a weekend of high-stakes professional bass fishing, hundreds of members of local BASS Nation chapter clubs will be there to provide the volunteer support necessary to make such a large event possible.  And a few of their numbers will be in the mix with the pros, hoping to pull off the upset of a lifetime.

Unless you have been living off the grid somewhere the past month or so, maybe taking a welcome break from the media both mass and social, by now you are probably aware that one of THE BIGGEST annual events in the world of professional bass sportfishing is coming to the Upstate of South Carolina next week.

 Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville will once again be the place to be to see the daily weigh-ins at the 2018 Bass master Classic. Despite chilly weather, the 2015 Classic held at Lake Hartwell iattracted record-setting crowds, according to tournament organizers. [photo courtesy Bassmasters]

Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville will once again be the place to be to see the daily weigh-ins at the 2018 Bass master Classic. Despite chilly weather, the 2015 Classic held at Lake Hartwell iattracted record-setting crowds, according to tournament organizers. [photo courtesy Bassmasters]

I am, of course, talking about the 2018 Bassmaster Classic professional bass fishing tournament, which will kick off just after sunrise at Lake Hartwell’s Green Pond Landing near Anderson on March 16.  Tournament organizers are planning for thousands of spectators to be at the landing to cheer on their favorite pro anglers. Those folks will have plenty of space to get their bass groove on.

An additional 350 feet of courtesy dock space was recently added to the Anderson County-managed facility, bringing the total dock space at Green Pond to 5,500 square feet, and an Abbeville, S.C.-based National Guard Unit will be setting up a six-bay military bridge that will provide a 3,000 square foot viewing platform from which fans will be able to view and take photos of the daily takeoffs. On Friday, Saturday & Sunday

 The scene at the early-morning takeoff for a big-time professional bass fishing tournament can resemble controlled chaos, but it's all designed to get the competitors on the water in an organized way and build excitement for the spectators -- part rock concert, part photo-op,  and all fun! [SCDNR photo by David Lucas]

The scene at the early-morning takeoff for a big-time professional bass fishing tournament can resemble controlled chaos, but it's all designed to get the competitors on the water in an organized way and build excitement for the spectators -- part rock concert, part photo-op,  and all fun! [SCDNR photo by David Lucas]

Weigh-ins will be held daily during the tournament beginning at 3:15 p.m. in the Bon Secours Wellness Arena in downtown Greenville, and the TD Convention Center, also in Greenville will be buzzing with activity as hard-core fans and other curious folks visit the “Classic Outdoors Expo,” where they’ll be able to check out the latest in boats, fishing gear, and other products at booths sponsored by major manufacturers and retailers of outdoor gear. It’s a big deal for the local economy. Tournament organizers expect more than 100,000 fans to visit one or more of these venues during the three-day event. The total estimated economic impact for the Anderson/Greenville region will exceed $24 million.

 In 2015, Casey Ashley, a Bassmaster tour professional from Donald's, S.C., took home top honors at the Bassmaster Classic. [photo courtesy Bassmasters]

In 2015, Casey Ashley, a Bassmaster tour professional from Donald's, S.C., took home top honors at the Bassmaster Classic. [photo courtesy Bassmasters]

One thing that many of those excited fans look will be looking forward to the most is the opportunity to see, and maybe even meet or get an autograph from, one of their favorite fishing stars, top professional anglers such as Casey Ashley of Donalds, S.C., the “homestate favorite” who won the Classic the last time it was held on Lake Hartwell in 2015 (pro Jason Williamson, of Wagener, S.C., is the other Palmetto State angler who made the cut this year).  Ashley and Williamson will be competing against some of the biggest names in the sport; in all, fifty-two anglers will be competing in the tournament, all of them “angling” for their share of a $1 million cash purse, and of course the prestige that comes from winning the “Superbowl of Bass Fishing.”

But mixed in among the sport's big names and past big money winners are a few that you probably haven’t heard of – everyday guys with regular jobs who earned their shot at Bassmaster Classic glory not by participating in Elite Series or Open tournaments that require sponsorships and full-time dedication, but by competing in “BASS Nation”-sanctioned events around the country, amateur tournaments that culminate in the BASS Nation Championship (which was also held at Lake Hartwell, this past fall). 


(Above) Amateur anglers who will going head-to-head with the professionals during the 2018 Bassmaster Classic include Bass Nation tournament winners Caleb Sumrall, Marty Giddens and  Luke Gritter,  and collegiate angler Jacob Foutz. [photos courtesy Bassmasters]


All of these guys are great anglers in their own rights, and you can bet your bottom dollar that every one of them is hoping against hope that they might become the next Bryan Kerchal.

Wait . . . who? 

That's Bryan Kerchal, ya'll.  Never heard of him?

 In professional bass fishing's greatest Cinderella Story ever, BASS Nation club angler Bryan Kerchal won the 1994 Bassmaster Classic. [photo courtesy Bassmaster]

In professional bass fishing's greatest Cinderella Story ever, BASS Nation club angler Bryan Kerchal won the 1994 Bassmaster Classic. [photo courtesy Bassmaster]

In 1994, Kerchal, a 23-year-old restaurant cook from Connecticut advanced through the local and regional BASS Nation amateur tournament system to earn a slot in that year’s Classic, and, against all odds, WON the event, beating out a strong field of professional anglers.  The bass world was shocked, but also overjoyed. Kerchal’s long-shot victory gave hope to thousands of anglers around the country that maybe, just maybe, with the right combination of luck and persistence, they too could make it to the big show and win it all.  Tragically, Kerchal’s life and career were cut short in a plane crash just a few months after he won the tournament, but his legacy lives on. This year, the top three finishers in the BASS Nation amateur championship tournament — Caleb Sumrall of Louisiana, Marty Giddens of Alabama and Luke Gritter of Michigan — joined by Jacob Foutz of Tennessee, winner of the BASS College Tournament, will be hoping to re-create Kerchal’s remarkable feat.

In addition, pulling off an event as large and complicated as the Classic would not be possible without the help of hundreds of Bass Nation Club members serve as unpaid volunteers at the tournament, doing everything from crowd control to ferrying media crews to and from the fishing areas so they can follow the action. Bassmaster officials will be the first to tell you that the BASS Nation members are the heart and soul of the organization. Members of the state chapters and local clubs also do important work on conservation initiatives, as well as supporting youth fishing initiatives and advocating for fishing access. Bass Nation clubs and their members give a lot to the sport they love.  So if you come out to Green Pond this weekend to cheer on your favorite pro, save a few hurrahs for these dedicated amateur underdogs as well.

 Bass Nation tournament volunteers from various clubs wait to get their tournament assignments at a Bassmasters Elite tour event in Georgetown, S.C. [SCDNR photo by David Lucas]

Bass Nation tournament volunteers from various clubs wait to get their tournament assignments at a Bassmasters Elite tour event in Georgetown, S.C. [SCDNR photo by David Lucas]


If you go:

  • Competition and takeoff will begin each day at 7:30 a.m. ET at the Green Pond Landing in Anderson (470 Green Pond Road).
     
  • Weigh-ins will be held daily March 16-18 at 3:15 p.m. in the Bon Secours Wellness Arena in downtown Greenville (650 N. Academy Street). 
     
  • The Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods will be open daily in Greenville at the TD Convention Center (1 Exposition Drive). Expo hours are Friday, March 16, noon – 8 p.m.; Saturday, March 17, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Sunday, March 18, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. All events are free and open to the public.
HashtagMarshalLife; the Pros and the Cons

HashtagMarshalLife; the Pros and the Cons

Amazing fishing with a side of hiking, paddling and history, please? It's what's on tap in Santee Cooper Country.

Amazing fishing with a side of hiking, paddling and history, please? It's what's on tap in Santee Cooper Country.