With plans to travel to Black's Camp on Lake Moultrie today, I can't help but think about the first cast I ever made into the Santee Cooper Lakes. It was more than a quarter century, but I remember it almost as if it was yesterday.
It was an early spring morning, my second semester in college at the University of South Carolina, and I was with James Helms, a friend from South Carolina who had been building the Santee Cooper legend in my mind since the previous fall, when we met. James had a boat at school, so we'd fished Lake Murray together several times, but this was our the first opportunity we'd found to take a whole Saturday and fish Santee Cooper.
It was right at daybreak, and James had just launched the boat about halfway up Lake Marion (I believe at Santee State Park). While he parked the truck, I cast a Texas-rigged plastic worm into the fabled waters from the riprap bank. About two lifts into my presentation, I felt that telltale "thump, thump," paused a moment and set the hook solidly. A few minutes later I was unhooking a thick-bodied, 2 1/2-pound Santee Cooper largemouth.
If you fish much, you probably can guess the rest of the story. We fished from dark to dark on a perfect spring day, hitting some of the most beautiful bass waters you'll ever see, and didn't get another bite!