Spring is right around the corner. If you don't think so, take a look at the pine pollen that covers everything, the flowers that are blooming and the calendar of S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) Fishing Rodeos that begin next weekend.
"We've been holding Fishing Rodeos available to the public off and on for about 15 years and been doing it consistently for about seven years," said Sarah Chabaane, Aquatic Education Coordinator for SCDNR.
"We typically see around 2,000 to 3,000 youth participants, not counting the parents or adults who have brought them. We have increased the number of Fishing Rodeos in the past three years from 20 to 30, especially in the coastal areas. Almost every coastal county now has a Fishing Rodeo."
The events are for children 5-15 years old, and participants need to bring their own equipment (some loaner equipment is usually available). The Fishing Rodeos are held rain or shine. Participants are asked to register online (dnr.sc.gov/aquaticed/rodeos) 72 hours prior to the event, although if you are unable to do so you may attend the event and register in person. Once you register online, you will receive specific directions for the event. Fishing Rodeos generally begin at 8 or 9 a.m. and last about four hours.
Chabaane said participants are provided a goody bag that includes educational publications and some fishing-related fun giveaways, "usually small things that will help you out on that day."
"There's no guarantee for catching fish in general but we have about a 98 percent success rate for kids catching fish," Chabaane said. "Anywhere we hold a rodeo, we typically stock in advance or we net off an area and stock within that area so they have a very high likelihood of catching fish. It's typically catfish although there are occasional bass or bream."
Schedule of Fishing Rodeos
• March 16: 8-11 a.m., Bronson Forest, Dorchester County
• April 6: 9 a.m.-noon, 8 Oaks Park, Georgetown County
• April 27: 8 a.m.-noon, Historic Camden, Kershaw County
• April 27: 9 a.m.-noon, Blue Heron Youth Fishing Rodeo, Jasper County
• April 27: 9 a.m.-noon, Charles Towne Landing, Charleston County
• April 27: 8-10 a.m., Cohen Campbell Fish Hatchery, Lexington County
• April 27: 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Cohen Campbell Fish Hatchery, Lexington County
• April 27: 8 a.m.-noon, The Ponds Fishing Rodeo, Dorchester County
• May 4: 8 a.m.-noon, Blue Hole Recreation Area, Abbeville County
• May 4: 8 a.m.-1 p.m., Marlboro County Fishing Rodeo, Marlboro County
• May 4: 8-11 a.m., Star Fort Pond, Greenwood County
• May 4: 9 a.m.-noon, Horry County Rodeo, Horry County
• May 4: 8 a.m.-noon, Barnwell County, Barnwell County
• May 4: 8:30 a.m.-noon, Croft State Park, Spartanburg County
• May 4: 8-11 a.m., City of Hardeeville, Jasper County
• May 4: 9 a.m.-noon, Burton Wells Park, Beaufort County
• May 11: 9 a.m.-noon, Draper WMA, York County
• May 11: 9 a.m.-noon, Forrest Hills Subdivision, Colleton County
• May 11: 8:30 a.m.-noon, Lake Cooley, Spartanburg County
• May 11: 9 a.m.-noon, Goose Creek Rodeo, Berkeley County
• May 11: 9 a.m.-noon, Lake Thicketty, Cherokee County
• May 11: 9 a.m.-noon, Lake Warren State Park, Hampton County
• May 18: 8 a.m.-1 p.m., Piedmont Tree Nursery, Oconee County
• May 18: 8 a.m.-1 p.m., Darlington County Fishing Rodeo, Darlington County
• May 18: 9 a.m.-noon, Foster Park Lake, Union County
• May 18: 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Bulls Bay Nature Festival Rodeo at Sewee Center, Charleston County
• June 8: 8-11 a.m., Lake Rabon, Laurens County
• June 8: 8 a.m.-noon, Sewee Youth Fishing Rodeo, Charleston County
• Sept. 21: 7:30-10:30 a.m., Cheraw Fish Hatchery, Chesterfield County
Bonneau Ferry adult-youth fishing open
If the Fishing Rodeos don't fit your schedule, take a look at the adult-youth fishing that's now open at Bonneau Ferry Wildlife Management Area at Bonneau Ferry near Cordesville in Berkeley County. Adult-youth fishing is allowed from Thursday to Sunday during daylight hours from March 1-Oct. 31. However, the area is closed on Saturday mornings in April until 11 a.m. because of youth turkey hunts. It also is closed in the fall on any scheduled deer hunt days.
“Bonneau Ferry is one of the few areas in South Carolina that is well set up for bank fishing, and we have always focused on adult-youth opportunity out there — whether it be for hunting or fishing. Anything we can do to get families outside and enjoying all that South Carolina has to offer is something that’s going to contribute to more future hunters and anglers here and aid conservation efforts,” Unit Wildlife Biologist Will Carlisle said in a news release.
In order to fish, youths 17 or younger must be actively fishing and must be accompanied by no more than two adults at least 18. Adults may only fish if they are accompanied by a youth. Boats are allowed but they may only be operated using an electric motor or by paddling. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited.
Fishing areas include Quarterman Lake (nearly 100 acres), New Lake and several smaller ponds. Limits per person per day are two largemouth bass, 10 panfish (crappie, bluegill, redear, pumpkinseed, redbreast) and five catfish. Crappie must be at least 8 inches. For fish other than crappie, no size limits apply.
Participants are reminded to pay attention to areas and roads that are closed to vehicles. Signs reminding participants of these regulations are posted at the main entrance. Maps showing lake and pond locations can be obtained at the kiosk at the main entrance or one can be mailed to you by calling the Dennis Wildlife Center in Bonneau at 843-761-8820 or 843-825-3388.