The Student Angler League Tournament Trail embarked on the new semester with the first of three events on the Spring Trail of the series last Saturday.
The trail, dubbed the SALTT by founder and operator Coach Rayburn Poston, is open to middle and high school anglers targeting red drum and largemouth bass in separate categories.
All SALTT events, including the three earlier this school year in fall of 2017, are held out of the Carroll Ashmore Campbell Marine Complex, located on U.S. 17 on the Sampit River in Georgetown.
But with a stiff wind on the heels of a cold front forecast for late morning, Poston decided to make the event a trailer tournament. In short, the 30-plus competing teams could trailer their boats to launch at area public boat ramps in order to shorten running time to reach their desired fishing spots.
Along with the windy conditions, the student anglers had to contend with nearly a 20-degree temperature drop thanks to the cold front, going from a high in the low 80s a day earlier to a high in the mid 60s the day of the event.
Still, plenty of solid bags of fish were weighed in. Of course, all fish weighed in during SALTT events are released.
"I was proud, our kids beat the odds," said Poston.
In the end, the two division winners launched from the Campbell Complex on the Sampit.
The team of sisters Hailey and Christy Edmonds of Carolina Forest High School were the big winners in the Red Drum Division, with an aggregate of 5.72 pounds including the biggest red, a 3.83-pounder.
"They caught fish all day, they caught over a dozen reds," Poston said of the Edmonds, who fished North Inlet. "Some people couldn't buy a bite."
Noah Payne and Kadyn Kellahan of Andrews High School finished second with a 3.14-pound aggregate, followed by Ashton Rouhselang and Lance Cooper with 2.69 pounds.
Through the first four events of the 2017-18 SALTT series, Payne and Kellahan lead the High School Red Drum Division with a total weight of 26.56 pounds, followed by the Edmonds duo with 23.22 pounds.
"I'm excited for the girls, they're really pushing those boys hard," said Poston.
In the bass division, the Conway High School team of Noah Jones and Manning Feldner finished first with an aggregate of 9.95 pounds, followed by Blake Thompson of Conway and Gave Brown of Aynor with 9.21 pounds.
Andrew Ackerman and Jeremy Owens of Georgetown High School were third with 8.53 pounds. Andrew Vereen of St. James High School weighed in the lunker bass, a 3.69-pounder.
Ackerman and Owens lead the High School Bass Division through four events with 29.77 pounds. Rouhselang and Cooper lead the Middle School Red Drum Division with 21.59 pounds. The team of Martin and Hanna lead the Middle School Bass Division with 20.50 pounds.
The final two SALTT events of the 2017-18 trail are scheduled for March 3 and April 14.
For more information on competing in SALTT events, visit www.SALTTfishing.com.
Red Drum Bill
The bill with designs on reducing the daily bag limit of red drum and instituting a first-time boat limit on the species passed the South Carolina Senate by a 40-0 vote and was sent to the House of Representatives on Feb. 14.
If approved, the bill would:
- Reduce the daily bag limit for red drum from three per person to two person.
- Institute a boat limit of six red drum per day. South Carolina has never had a boat limit on red drum.
The current size slot limit of 15 to 23 inches for red drum would remain the same.
Scott Whitaker, Executive Director of Coastal Conservation Association South Carolina, expects the bill to be reviewed by the House's Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee on Tuesday.
"It's moving along real good," said Whitaker. "We've done our homework in the house, and I don't see any opposition to it whatsoever."