With a proud poppa at the helm, the Conway bass-fishing duo of Manning Feldner and Noah Jones notched another fine finish in the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Youth Bass Fishing Championship Saturday on Lake Murray.
Feldner and Jones of Conway High School teamed to weigh in a five-bass limit of 17.79 pounds, good for second place in the high school division.
Caleb Chasteen and Jamison Cummings of White Knoll High School, located in Lexington, enjoyed the home-lake advantage and won the division with a weight of 20.09 pounds.
The event featured high school and middle school divisions with a total of 96 two-angler teams competing. The weigh-in was held as part of the Palmetto Sportsmen's Classic at the South Carolina State Fairgrounds.
Feldner and Jones won the middle school division of the event two years ago, representing Conway Middle School. Now, as 16-year-old sophomores at Conway High School, the duo returned to the same scene and narrowly missed claiming first place again, this time in the high school division.
"I'm proud of them, they're becoming accomplished little anglers," said Chris Jones, Noah Jones' father and the captain of the team.
"I told them Saturday while they were fishing, with me just sitting back and watching them I can see how much they've changed, how they're working together better as a team. They've got better mechanics - casting, fighting the fish, the decision making, lure choices - they're doing so much better. They're an easy team to coach. I don't have to do a lot of coaching, they know what to do."
Feldner and Jones pre-fished the tournament on Friday (March 23), with the elder Jones also able to fish the practice round.
"We were allowed to practice on Friday, and we spent the whole day out there," said Chris Jones. "We were able to develop a game plan the night before the tournament.
"We found fish on the bed ready to spawn, and on the day of the tournament, three of the five fish they weighed in came off the beds we found the day before."
Four of the five bass they weighed in were caught on wacky-rigged watermelon-red Senkos, with the other fish hitting a half-once red river craw jig.
Fishing with the 14-inch minimum size limit of Lake Murray, the day for the duo was highlighted by 5.63-pounder caught by Noah Jones, which wound up being the sixth-largest weighed in the high school division. The other four fish, all largemouth, ranged from 2.25 to 3.5 pounds.
Aside from Conway High School, teams from Conway Middle School, Whittemore Park Middle School, Carolina Forest High School and Waccamaw High School competed in the event.
Bennett Lawshe and James Clark of Waccamaw High School finished 12th with an aggregate of 11.89 pounds.
Jackson Denny and Bowman Davis of Carolina Forest High School finished 32nd with an aggregate of 7.30 pounds.
Mason Hardee and Will Hardee of Conway Middle School finished 15th in the middle school division with a weight of 2.63 pounds.
Capt. Buddy Smith, a native of Myrtle Beach, took to the woods a few days after the start of turkey season on private property near Newberry.
Smith was guiding Capt. Jason Snead on the turkey hunting trip and after a slow start, it got very interesting for the duo.
Snead took down two gobblers with one shot, but when Smith walked up on the birds, he was amazed. One of the gobblers was an erythritic phase turkey, a highly unusual reddish color.
"It was the most beautiful turkey I've ever seen," said Smith. "I was in shock when we walked up to it."
The bird weighed 20 pounds, with a 10-inch beard and 1-and-1/4-inch spurs.
"It's a genetic mutation-type thing that pops up every once in a while in turkeys," said Charles Ruth, Turkey Project Supervisor for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. "You can have four color phases. You have a smoky gray, I get a lot of calls about them, but not many at all on the eurythritic."
Snead's bird is one of two eurythritic turkeys Ruth is aware of that have been harvested thus far statewide in the 2018 season, which opened on March 20.
"Two eurythritic (turkeys) this year is pretty unusual," said Ruth. "They're a beautiful bird."