Rod and Reel in…the Heat!

“Heat Wave”…WHEW!  That was a great song when Martha & the Vandellas released it in 1963, but they were from Detroit.  What did they really know about weather that almost makes your blood boil?  Here in South Carolina, it’s sort of…well, business as usual!

We enjoyed a wonderful, moderate spring in 2012, but now it appears that summer has decided to land on us a bit early, with the kind of heat that we don’t usually see until late July or August.  For the next four or five days, temperatures are expected to hit the triple digits, with no relief in sight until at least the end of next week.   But we can take some small comfort in the fact that we aren’t suffering alone—although we expect our South Carolina summers to be hot, the entire US has been sweltering lately, with more than 1,000 record highs recorded across the US.  Locally, our record is 108 degrees in Wedgefield (on one horrible September day in 1925, before home air conditioning was invented), but today’s high of 107 is just a bit too close for comfort—literally.  Please stay tuned to your preferred news source for information on heat-wave safety.

What has always amazed me is the number of people who still enjoy outdoor activities, even when it’s sizzling (and yes, as a kid, I did once try to fry an egg on the sidewalk).  In particular, fishermen don’t seem to mind the heat at all—or if they do, they are pretty good at hiding it!  But it’s a rare dawn breaking that doesn’t see anglers taking their positions at the side of the water, or putting in with boats. 

Sumter County has an abundance of ponds and lakes.  Here in the city, Second Mill Pond on Pinewood Road is a favorite spot for fishing and paddle sports.  Many of our ponds and lakes are privately owned and not open for fishing (and to answer a frequently asked question, fishing is not permitted at Swan Lake, which is a wildlife sanctuary).   However, some of the best are open to the public and easy to access. 

Our state parks offer the chance for a great catch.  Poinsett State Park features a ten-acre lake with bass, bream and catfish.  Boats are available for rental.  Woods Bay State Natural Area has a boardwalk deep in the woods, surrounded by water with a variety of fish, as well as canoe and kayak rentals.  Manchester State Forest has three ponds and a wonderfully shaded, secluded atmosphere off Highway 261.  Admission to state parks is free, but a fishing license is required.  It can be obtained for a small fee at the SC Department of Natural Resources.

Sparkleberry Swamp, located at the headwaters of Lake Marion, offers a variety of wildlife adventures in addition to fishing.  For more info:  1-800-883-9099.  Lake Marion is also accessible from Pack’s Landing, and Elliot’s Landing in Rimini.

Finally, Sumter County offers the unspoiled beauty of the large pond at Mill Creek Park.  It is located at 7975 Millford Plantation Road, off SC 261 in Pinewood.  Information is available from the Sumter County Recreation Department (803) 436-2248.

Info on fishing guides and tours is available at the Swan Lake Visitors Center, (803) 436-2640 or toll-free at 1-800-688-4748.  

So if you’ve got a hankering for absolutely fresh fish, fried, baked or out on the grill for the 4th of July, you’ve got great choices as to where to go and get it.  And above all, stay cool!

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