Friday, May 24, 2013

Santee Cooper Cats & Smoky Mountain Trout

My next two fishing adventures will take me in totally different directions, but neither is terribly far from home. The biggest common denominator, I suppose, is that both are highly favored places for Nathaniel and me to visit.

Come Monday, my truck will be pointed toward Cross, S.C. for a visit to Blacks Camp in the heart of Santee Cooper Country. A family-run fish camp with friendly folks and great Southern cooking, Blacks is located at the mouth of the Diversion Canal, which connects the waters of lakes Marion and Moultrie. And rumor has it that the blue cats are tearing it up in the canal right now.

Cross has a decidedly Lowcountry feel, with moss-draped tupelo trees, huge gators, tea-colored waters and straight rural roads with little along them besides farm houses, country stores and old churches. Beyond its famous catfishing, Santee Cooper is the original home of land-locked striped bass and has produced a couple of former world record shellcrackers. Yet some anglers would reasonably argue that the best fishing is for largemouth bass, crappie or even bluegills. I'm pretty sure we will do some catfishing. Beyond the cats, we'll see what's biting best.

A day and a half after we return from Black Camp, Nathaniel and I will again get in truck, but this time it will be pointed north, and we'll be going uphill instead of downhill. Destination is Townsend, Tenn., just across the Great Smoky Mountains, where the rhododendron should be blooming and the trout should be feeding well.

We're actually headed to Townsend so that Nathaniel can play dulcimer music on the Pickin' Porch at the Wood 'n' Strings Dulcimer Shop on Saturday, June 1. However, we can't go to Townsend without fishing for trout in the cool clear waters that tumble down the steep slopes of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself, though, and I should focus my fishing thoughts on Santee Cooper for now.

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