Conway Middle School’s dynamic duo of Manning Feldner and Noah Jones is at it again.
Last Saturday, Feldner and Jones claimed first place in the S.C. B.A.S.S. Nation Junior State Championship at Lake Wateree, hauling in a five-fish limit of 14.85 pounds including a big fish weighing in at 5.16 pounds.
Feldner and Jones were fresh off finishing as the top duo in the middle school division at the fourth annual state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Youth Bass Fishing Championship at Lake Murray in mid-March.
“They’ve had a great spring so far,” said tournament director Randy Vaughn, S.C. B.A.S.S. Nation youth director.
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The victory qualifies the duo for the middle school-high school national championship, to be held in August in Kentucky at a location to be determined.
A cold front pushed through the morning of the tournament, leaving windy fishing conditions for the rest of the day.
“It was kind of slow, it was pretty tough fishing,” said Chris Jones, Noah Jones’ father and the team’s supervisor and boat captain.
The duo caught two keeper bass in the first 30 minutes of fishing – a 3.5-pounder and at 11:30 a.m. and the 5.16-pounder.
But at 1:30 p.m., an hour before the weigh-in, they were two fish short of a five-fish limit.
In the next five minutes, both Feldner and Jones caught another keeper to reach the limit, the only boat among the field of 16 to do so.
“I told them that’s how quick it can change, it can change in two casts,” said Chris Jones.
The top bait on the day for the duo was a Texas-rigged crawfish lure.
Fittingly, the artificial reef off the coast of Little River named in honor of the late Ron McManus continues to grow.
McManus was instrumental in building the Jim Caudle Reef, also located off Little River, into the most used artificial reef in South Carolina’s coastal waters before he passed away in February 2014.
Later that year, the Ron McManus Memorial Reef was established on Permitted Area 04 – or PA 04 – of the state Department of Natural Resources’ Marine Artificial Reef Program.
The reef, located four miles straight off McManus’ home on Cherry Grove Beach, originally featured a 90-foot steel hull shrimp boat named Lady Geneva that accidentally sank there.
After the reef was dedicated to McManus in the autumn of 2014, a barge full of concrete reef cones, 5-foot tall concrete boxes and assorted other concrete material was placed on the site.
DNR’s Artificial Reef Program recently deployed a 62-foot concrete-hulled boat, marking another major addition to the structure on the site.
“This is the second major deployment on this relatively new reef site,” said Bob Martore, DNR’s artificial reef coordinator. “We hope to continue to expand this reef in order to make a fitting tribute to Ron, who put so much effort into protecting and enhancing our fisheries resources during his life.”
For more information on DNR’s Marine Artificial Reef Program, visit www.dnr.sc.gov/marine/pub/seascience/artreef.html.