Patrick Walters can only hope the upcoming Bassmaster Elite tournament on the Santee Cooper lakes brings him the same success as his last fishing tournament in his home state.
Walters won last week’s Bassmaster Eastern Open fished on Lake Hartwell, which certainly has to be a confidence booster for the 26-year-old Summerville native.
“I’m excited because I get to be at home, take a shower in my own shower, sleep in my own bed and I can hopefully weigh in some fish in front of the hometown crowd,” said Walters, who this week has been participating in a Bassmaster Elite event on Lake Guntersville in Scottsboro, Ala.
Walters admitted that there is some pressure of being “the hometown guy who has to catch fish and if he doesn’t win people want to know what happened.”
“I know the body of water. I know it very well. But that’s a lot of people’s downfall when they know a body. Fishing is like gambling sometimes. It’s a game of odds and percentages. You can’t always predict when you’re going to win. Fishing is fishing. It’s not always catching,” Walters said.
The Bassmaster Elite at Santee Cooper will be fished Oct. 8-11. Takeoffs will be at 7:05 a.m. each day from the John C. Land III Sportfishing Facility in Summerton, with daily weigh-ins beginning at 3:20 p.m. at the facility. The field of anglers is cut to the top 40 after two days and only the top 10 will fish the final day, gunning for a $100,000 first-place prize.
The Santee Cooper tournament originally was scheduled to be held in April but like many sporting events was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. The delay means the Elite Series pros have to throw out any preconceived ideas they had about fishing Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie.
“There was no question about what I was going to do if the tournament was in April,” Walters said. “I knew what I was going to do. I knew where I was going to go and what I was going to throw. I didn’t event think about it.
“(The postponement) definitely changes things up. I don’t know how the bite is going to be or what the fish are going to be doing. It definitely makes it a little more interesting. You’re definitely going to have to practice for this one, put in the work. It’s going to be completely different than it originally would have been.”
Walters said he expected the event to be a lot of jump fishing, people going down the bank and covering water. There’s not going to be one set pattern because in the fall the fish are focused on feeding whereas in the spring the focus would have been on spawning.
“If the tournament was fished in April, I truly believe it was going to take over 100 pounds to win over four days. I don’t think it will take anywhere near that kind of weight. I think it will take 18, 19 pounds a day where in the spring it would have taken 25 a day,” Walters said.
This has been a chaotic season for professional bass fishermen because of the coronavirus, which forced organizers to scramble and reschedule events.
“I can’t tell you if it’s been a long year or a short one. I feel like it’s been a good year, but it’s been so spread out it’s hard to carry momentum,” said Walters, who is 16th in the Bassmaster Angler of the Year race. The win on Hartwell earned Walters an automatic exemption into the Bassmaster Classic, something he probably would have made on points through the Elite Series.
Walters was sixth after the first of three days of fishing at Hartwell, grabbed the lead on the second day and put together a solid final round and earned $41,767. He said what made it special was that his wife Emily, their dog Chunk and the rest of the family was there to witness the victory.
“It was great. Elite tournaments are hard to win, but I feel sometimes an Open is almost harder to win because there are all the locals there fishing, 180-plus people in the tournament (more than twice the number of anglers in an Elite event) and everything has to go right,” he said. “This was my second Open win (the 2018 Central Open on the Red River). The first one was ‘Hey, we can do it.’ And now, ‘Hey, we’re going to build some momentum now.'”
S.C. Duck Calling Contest
The 2020 South Carolina State Duck Calling Contest will be held Sunday at 1 p.m. at Cooks Mountain in Wateree Heritage Preserve and Wildlife Management Area, located right off U.S. Highway 378 between Columbia and Sumter. The event originally was scheduled to be held in March during the Palmetto Sportsmen’s Classic but was postponed because of the coronavirus.
For information, contact Jesse Tucker at 864-706-2545 or Marc Ackerman at 843-708-8869.
Warrior Surf Foundation Fishing Tournament
Folly Beach-based nonprofit Warrior Surf Foundation will hold its inaugural Keepin’ It Reel Fishing Tournament Oct. 24. Fishing hours are 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Participants ages 13-16 (youth) and 17-plus (adult) can launch from any dock or public landing in Charleston to catch sheepshead, redfish and flounder.
Entry fees are $25-$40 in the youth division and $50-$65 in the adult division, depending on which categories you register for. There’s also a “You’ve Been Schooled” category for participants who must use a child’s pole. All entry fees will go towards WSF’s 12-week program to help veterans struggling with PTSD, transitional issues and other mental health challenges. For more information, and to register visit warriorsurf.rallyup.com/fishingtournament.
America’s Boating Club
America’s Boating Club Charleston will hold boating safety classes on Oct. 10 and Nov. 11 at 1376 Orange Grove Road, Charleston. Classes begin at 9 a.m. and end around 4 p.m. Successful participants earn the S.C. Department of Natural Resources Boater Education Card. The cost is $25 for adults and youth 12-18 are free. Call 843-312-2876 or email [email protected]