Guy Harvey Magazine

SPR 2017

Guy Harvey Magazine is focused on fishing, boating, scuba diving, and marine conservation. Portfolios from the world's best fishing photographers, articles on gear, travel, tournaments, apparel, lifestyle, seafood recipes, sustainable fisheries.

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38 | www.GuyHarveyMagazine.com S outh Carolina boasts diverse topography, with waters ranging from low altitude mountain streams to nearshore ocean hard-bottom. That's quite a range of options, and through the years, resident anglers—along with a slew of annual visitors—have made the most of all this habitat. More importantly, the state has been serious about managing its fishing resources, and one of its most successful tools has been making its wide range of natural environments even more fish-friendly through habitat enhancement programs. While the materials and methods are diverse, the results are all the same—healthier fishing. South Carolina was once widely considered the epicenter of the nation's largemouth bass fishing, and today, it still boasts ever-improving bass fishing opportunities, not to mention a wide array of other freshwater species. But this kind of excellence doesn't happen on its own. Much of the state's fine freshwater fishing can be directly attributed to the state's efforts toward habitat improvements in its lakes and reservoirs. Amy Chastain, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Fisheries biologist for Region 1 in the western part of the state, oversees habitat restoration in the popular, 55-year-old Lake Hartwell, located southwest of Greenville on the South Carolina/Georgia border. Much of the structure that was left in place when Lake Hartwell was impounded has been lost as the lake aged. A settlement from a Natural Resources Damage Assessment has provided funding to restore Lake Hartwell fish habitat. During the 1950s and 60s, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) were released into drainages impounded by the Lake Hartwell. Schlumberger Limited acquired the liability for the contamination through acquisition of a smaller electrical components company. In the 1990s, Schlumberger entered into agreements with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to clean up the contamination in the system. Following the EPA agreement, a group of natural resource agencies, including the DNR, started a natural resource damage assessment, and in 2006, a settlement was reached with Schlumberger. The settlement included removal of two dams on a Lake Hartwell tributary, stream restoration of the affected reach, funds to enhance public access and $2.8 million for fish habitat enhancement in Lake Hartwell. "With the funding available, DNR undertook various fish habitat restoration projects," says Chastain, "including the construction of gravel beds and artificial (and natural material) fish attractors." Chastain says the project goals include improved spawning success, an increase in refuge and the forage base. "Perhaps the most effective of the fish attractors are cut and cabled trees that were originally on the shoreline," says Chastain. "And we now have completed three such sites, using about 100 tree trunks per mile. The results have been nothing short of phenomenal." Chastain also lauds the use of 12-ft. bamboo stalks anchored by cement in plastic buckets, placed in 30-40 ft. of water farther off the banks. "We are hoping to provide anglers an online listing of the locations of the bamboo attractors, which we discovered are far superior to Christmas trees," she adds. "Local anglers have used bamboo on their own for some time, and it is locally sourced." The first of the bamboo fish attractors were placed in 2014 and the results are promising. Other attractors include more typical brush structures, stump fields and spider humps, which are a mixture of logs and boulders. The Lake's largemouth bass, various panfish, and introduced striped bass and hybrids (striper/white bass cross) all seem to be benefiting from the structures. Closer to the coast, various fisheries habitat restoration efforts are underway in the Santee Cooper lake system. The body of water was formed in 1941 when These big bass (above) are an example of the productive fishing that comes from habitat enhancing structure. Right: This "spider hump" is part of a Lake Hartwell Restoration Project. Photos: SCDNR.

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