March 14, 2014 by Rob Newell
MANNING, S.C. - If you are looking to hire a fishing guide on Santee Cooper, you might want to look into the name Lindwood Thornhill of Pineville, S.C.
Thornhill has been plying the waters of Santee Cooper as a fishing guide for the better part of 50 years. Though he is known as a catfish and striper guide, apparently he is pretty good at guiding for bass as well.
Today, Thornhill not only took over the lead of the Rayovac FLW Series with a 24-pound, 7-ounce bag of fish that pushed him to a two-day total of 48 pounds, 3 ounces, but he also put his co-angler, Marvin Reese of Gwynn Oak, Md., on the bag of bass of a lifetime.
While Thornhill's limit was impressive, it was Reese's whopping limit weighing in at 31 pounds, 13 ounces that stole the show. Reese's bag was anchored by a pair largemouths tipping the scales at 9 pounds, 9 ounces and 10 pounds, 2 ounces each.
In all that comes to over 56 pounds of bass caught out of Thornhill's boat. Amazingly, he did not seem the least bit upset about the monster bag caught from the back of his boat.
"That's what I do, I put people on fish," Thornhill said. "That's my job. And today, it looks like I did a pretty good job."
Thornhill said the sweet spot that produced most of the weight for the day is a classic staging spot in 10 to 12 feet of water on the upper lake. He said he has many areas very similar to it, but this year all his other staging ditches have been empty except for this particular one that seems to be loaded with big fish.
"These big females are all moving up from deep water and this is the last bit of deep water they come to just before they go to the bank," Thornhill explained. "In another week they'll all be gone, up on the bank, paired up with males. But for now, they keep moving into this place by the hour."
Thornhill said in order to catch the fish, he has to let the area rest.
"I can pull in there catch two or three and then it's over," he said. "It has to rest. Then I come back a while later and we'll catch another one or two. And you have to fish very slowly. You can't get in any hurry, or you won't get a bite."
And while Thornhill seemed so business-as-usual with such a large heap of bass in his livewells, it was Reese who was ecstatic about the fishing trip of a lifetime.
After not catching a fish on day one, Reese literally went from zero to hero, to take the Co-angler Division lead thanks to the giant limit.
"Unreal," said an elated Reese. "I just had the fishing day thousands dream of on a spring day like this. Lindwood treated me like I was a client. He would say, `cast right over there, you should get a bite there,' or `cast over here, it's a good spot.'"
"He knows so much about this lake, it's incredible," Reese added. "I just pray that I'm in first and he's in first, too, so we fish together again tomorrow."
Bradford Beavers of Ridgeville, S.C., also stunned the weigh-in crowd on day two with a 32-pound limit, rocketing him into second place with a three-day total of 45 pounds, 2 ounces.
Beavers is fishing both the upper and lower lake for his catches. The difference for him today was being able to actually get to his primary spots in the lower lake in a timely fashion and fish them correctly.
"Yesterday, I just couldn't get to my best stuff down there because of the wind," Beavers said. "I only got to about a quarter of the places I had down there and when I did, I couldn't fish them right."
"Today, I caught four fish up here, then headed down to the lower lake and culled nearly all of them down there with big ones," he continued. "I ended up weighing four from the lower lake today."
Beavers, who has fished Santee all of his life, believes the reason the tournament has been dominated by fewer bites but bigger fish is because most of the smaller bucks are running the banks, making beds while the bigger females are staged up in deeper water waiting to be escorted to shore.
"Guys fishing those deeper areas are only fishing for three to six bites a day," he added. "But they are giants when they catch one."
Todd Auten of Lake Wylie, S.C., brought 18 pounds, 8 ounces to the scales today to grab third place with a two-day total of 44 pounds, 12 ounces.
Auten, too, is fishing out in deeper water to 10 feet for his bigger bites as well. He got three of those big bites today before having to go to the bank to finish his limit with a couple of sight-fish.
"A couple of places I'm fishing are way off the bank and that's where the bigger ones are," Auten said. "When I go up looking, I'll see a big one or two cruising, but it's mostly bucks up there."
Chad Grigsby of Maple Grove, Minn., broke the 20-pound mark on day one and then added 23 pounds, 13 ounces to it today for a two-day total of 44 pounds, 1 ounce for fourth place.
Grigsby, too, is on the few bites/big fish program.
"I got six bites today and six bites yesterday, that's it," Grigsby said. "I think they are just starting to move up into these staging areas and they don't replenish very fast because it's still too cold at night."
Grigsby fished a staging ditch yesterday with a rattle trap for his catch, but found it desolate this morning.
"I am not sure, but I think I caught them all yesterday from that area - all six fish," he laughed. "And when I returned this morning, no new ones had moved up. So I made a move to another little staging ditch that has some deeper water in it and started flipping wood and caught the ones I weighed in today."
Grigsby added that his rattle trap spot from yesterday and the ditch he flipped today had one thing in common: "It's the very last bit of deep water available before the shallow spawning pocket or flat," he said. "Even though I used two different lures each day, the type of area was similar."
Clent Davis of Montevallo, Ala., lead on day one with 31 pounds, 1 ounce, but only brought in two fish today for 8 pounds, 1 ounce to slip to fifth with a two-day total of 39 pounds, 2 ounces.
"I lost them all today," Davis said. "I had six bites and only caught two of them. They are still the right size, but I lost four good ones."
"I am swimming a jig," Davis revealed. "And sometimes they just don't really commit to eating it completely. It happens up around my home all the time. The water temperature drops a few degrees and they go from really eating it, to just kind of lunging at it with out really inhaling it completely."
Jeff McMillan caught the big bass in the Pro Division on day two weighing 10 pounds, 5 ounces.
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top-10 pros in the Rayovac FLW Series on Santee Cooper after day two:
6th: Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C., two-day total of 37-7
7th: Brett Mitchell of Timmonsville, S.C., two-day total of 36-15
8th: Lionel Botha of Okeechobee, Fla., two-day total of 36-9
9th: Trevor Fitzgerald of Belleview, Fla., two-day total of 36-7
10th: Ben Moon of Danielsville, Ga., two-day total of 36-0
Reese leads co-anglers
As already reported, Marvin Reese had a dream day with veteran Santee Cooper guide Lindwood Thornhill to take the Co-angler Division lead.
As he hoped, Reese will be fishing with Thornhill on day three again.
Bryan New of Belmont, N.C., is in second place in the Co-angler Division with a two-day total of 22 pounds, 3 ounces.
Wendy Kmucha of Harrisburg, Ill., is in third place among co-anglers with a two-day total of 20 pounds, 15 ounces.
Lonnie Drusch of Sumter, S.C., zeroed on day one and returned fire on day two with 19 pounds, 5 ounces to jump into fourth place on the co-angler side.
Douglas Conklin of Harmony, Fla., rounds out the top five co-anglers with a two-day total of 19 pounds, 5 ounces.
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top-10 co-anglers in the Rayovac FLW Series on Santee Cooper after day two:
6th: Blaine Bucy of Weirton, W.V., two-day total of 19-3
7th: Rodney Jordan of Sumter, S.C., two-day total of 18-14
8th: Mark Allen Seals of Laurinburg, N.C., two-day total of 17-10
9th: Ken Sharpless of Babson Park, Fla., two-day total of 17-8
10th: Dave Hammer of Taylorsville, N.C., two-day total of 16-12