UPCOMING EVENT: TACKLE WAREHOUSE PRO CIRCUIT - 2020 - Lake Erie

Santee Cooper still going strong

Santee Cooper still going strong
Pro Dale Evans of Ridgeville, S.C., leads with a two-day total of 38 pounds, 11 ounces. Evans also cashed in on the big-bass award with this bass weighing 7 pounds, 10 ounces.

MANNING, S.C. - Many pros thought Santee Cooper's springtime bass fling would be drawing to an end with warming temperatures this week, but the famed fishery continued to pump out solid limits for EverStart Eastern Division pros today.

Dale Evans of Ridgeville, S.C., leads the EverStart Series event with a two-day total of 38 pounds, 11 ounces. Evans has been the model of consistency the last two days, bringing in limits of 19 pounds, 13 ounces yesterday and 18 pounds, 14 ounces today.

"I'm flipping trees on the upper lake," said Evans, who has fished Santee Cooper most of his life. "I've got a few key areas that the fish are using as they move in and out of the spawning areas."

Pro Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tenn., brought in a whopping 26 pounds today. EverStart Tournament Director Chris Jones helps Morgan hold up his catch. These three bass alone weighed 22 pounds. Morgan is in second with a two-day total of 37 pounds, 15 ounces.What a day for Morgan

Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tenn., weighed in a whopping 26-pound limit of fish today to take over second place with a two-day total of 37 pounds, 15 ounces.

"I got the bigger bites today," Morgan said. "I'm running a lot of water on the lower lake, and once I set down to fish, I'm fishing really slow - almost like dead-sticking."

Instead of looking for spawning fish during the practice, Morgan spent his time examining areas that he thought the fish would be coming out to after the spawn.

"I'm fishing about 3 feet of water out in front of the bays where they've spawned," he said. "I didn't get a lot of bites in practice, but I got enough to know that they would be coming to these places as the water warmed up. And now some of the bigger ones are getting out there."

Pro Micah Bennett of Summerville, S.C., is in third with a two-day total of 36 pounds, 11 ounces.Bennett moving out for third

Micah Bennett of Summerville, S.C., is in third place with a two-day total of 36 pounds, 11 ounces.

Bennett noted that his fish are moving out farther each day. He found his fish shallow during practice, but had to move out to 2 to 3 feet of water to catch them yesterday.

"Today, I had to move out to a 5-foot ditch to catch them," Bennett said. "The deeper they move, the harder they are to catch."

Pro Ken Ellis of Bowman, S.C., is in fourth with a two-day total of 35 pounds, 5 ounces.Ellis in fourth

Well-known Santee Cooper local and previous EverStart Champion Ken Ellis of Bowman, S.C., is in fourth place with a two-day total of 35 pounds, 5 ounces.

After fishing the lake for 35 years, Ellis has no shortage of places to check.

"The fish are in both a spawn and postspawn stage here," he said. "The bigger ones are in more of a postspawn stage, and they really haven't gotten out and started feeding yet. But they're getting there. I had a tough time today. I fished the upper lake the last two days, and I'm probably headed to the lower lake tomorrow."

Shumpert in fifth

Pro Ricky Shumpert of Lexington, S.C., is in fifth with a two-day total of 35 pounds, 2 ounces.Another well-known Santee Cooper pro, Ricky Shumpert of Lexington, S.C., is in fifth place with a two-day total of 35 pounds, 2 ounces.

Shumpert initially predicted a tough tournament on Santee Cooper, and now he has some explaining to do.

"When it warmed up so fast several days ago, I really thought the fish would leave the shallows fast," he said. "I've seen it happen before; they'll be fish everywhere shallow and the water hits 75 degrees and they're gone in a day. But they are pulling a lot of water during the day and letting it fill back up at night and that has actually cooled the water down about 5 or 6 degrees in the last two days; I think that's what has kept them around longer."

Shumpert is catching a mix of sight-fish and postspawn fish each day.

"In the morning I catch a few sight-fishing, and then I fish trees for postspawners," he said. "Once I get a decent limit, I go looking for more spawners to start on the next day."

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 in the Pro Division are Bryan Hudgins of Orange Park, Fla., in sixth with a two-day total of 33 pounds, 8 ounces; Greg Pugh of Cullman, Ala., in seventh with a two-day total of 32 pounds, 14 ounces; Wesley Strader of Spring City, Tenn., in eighth with a two-day total of 32 pounds, 2 ounces; David Williams of Maiden, N.C., in ninth with a two-day total of 31 pounds, 4 ounces; and Kevin Vida of Clare, Mich., in 10th with a two-day total of 31 pounds, 1 ounce.

Signs of Santee Cooper's good fishing

Santee Cooper did slow down a little today, but it still produced enough fish to keep pros' livewell pumps running. There were 51 limits caught and the top-20 cut was 28 pounds, 2 ounces, nearly 14 pounds per day.

Finally, consider that the amount of weight needed to make the top-20 cut last year (roughly 19 pounds) would have barely gotten a pro a check (60th place) this year.

Marty Mixon of Goose Creek, S.C., leads the Co-angler Division with a two-day total of 21 pounds, 6 ounces.Mixon up the co-anglers

In the Co-angler Division, Marty Mixon of Goose Creek, S.C., leads with a two-day total of 21 pounds, 6 ounces.

Mixon caught four bass weighing 13 pounds, 12 ounces today thanks to a pro that listened to his local wisdom.

"My pro was looking for some suggestions this morning, so I got to go to some of my places," said Mixon who is a Santee Cooper local. "I was comfortable with the areas and techniques and it worked out good."

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers are Jason Hampson of Cartersville, Ga., in second with a two-day total of 20 pounds, 5 ounces; Brent Long of Sherrills Ford, N.C., in third with a two-day total of 19 pounds, 7 ounces; Albert Mobley of Manning, S.C., in fourth with a two-day total of 18 pounds, 12 ounces; Reginald Pickett of Greensboro, N.C., in fifth with a two-day total of 17 pounds, 15 ounces; Roger Phillips of Delta, Ala., in sixth with a two-day total of 15 pounds, 10 ounces; Joseph Webster of Fulton, Miss., in seventh with a two-day total of 15 pounds, 7 ounces; Daniel Miller of Indianapolis in eighth with a two-day total of 14 pounds, 9 ounces; Tony Haymon of West Palm Beach, Fla., in ninth with a two-day total of 14 pounds, 4 ounces; and Ron Warren of Ocklawaha, Fla., in 10th with 13 pounds, 6 ounces.

The top 20 pros and 20 co-anglers start from zero tomorrow and the top 10 in each division will carry their weight over to day-four competition.

Top-20 action starts tomorrow at 7 a.m. Eastern at the John C. Land boat launch.

Tags: rob-newell  headline-story  2004-04-21-santee-cooper 

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