Originally created 02/24/02

Rod-limit proposal angers striper fisherman



Ben Peacock routinely spends his free time at Clarks Hill Lake, trolling for stripers. It's his favorite pastime.

And like most striper fishermen, he likes to put out lots of rods - sometimes two dozen or more.

South Carolina's General Assembly, meanwhile, is mulling a bill to limit the number of rods in that state's waters - which include half of Thurmond Lake.

Legislators drafted a bill that would allow up to eight rods per person per boat. An amendment last week reduced that number to three.

And Peacock, predictably, is fuming.

"If I was bass fishing and casting a plug, obviously I can only use one rod at a time. But if you're striper fishing, that's a different story," said Peacock, who also is president of the Clarks Hill Striper Club.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, which would have to enforce the rod limit, didn't propose the new law, according to Mike Willis, a DNR spokesman.

"It's not department-sponsored, and it came from the legislators themselves," he said. "But we're not opposed to it."

The law would affect only anglers fishing in freshwater.

"The way the current law is worded, you can have two rods per angler if you're fishing from the bank," Willis said. "If you're in a boat, you can have an unlimited number of rods as long as every person in the boat is licensed.

"The new law would increase the number of rods from the bank from two to three," he said. "And it would decrease the number in the boat from an unlimited number down to three rods per licensed angler," Willis said.

Peacock and other striper fishermen are mounting a campaign to convince lawmakers to abandon the legislation, which they feel could impede efforts to develop striper fishing tournaments in the Savannah River lakes.

"I think it should be scrapped," he said, noting that its passage might force Georgia to adopt a similar law - because it shares the same border lakes.

"So the potential is there for Georgia to have to draw up a law to agree with them," he said. "This would also affect crappie fishermen, who like to use large numbers of rods."

Reach Robert Pavey at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 119, or rpavey@augustachronicle.com.