Boyd Duckett – Elites at Winyah Bay

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DuckettBlogThis week the Elite Series brings its traveling tournament show to Winyah Bay, on the waters of coastal South Carolina. I got here a couple of days ago, and it’s beautiful. The place has a great feel.

It’s a terrific vacation place. Georgetown is nice. If you go south down the coast, there’s Charleston. If you go north, you’ve got Pawley’s Island and Murrell’s Inlet and Myrtle Beach.

I’m staying in Pawley’s Island. I like it a lot.

But… You know there’s always a “but.”  We won’t be fishing locally.

This will be a different kind of tournament. The key word for this event is going to be transportation. Even more so than in past Elite Series events that required anglers to log a lot of miles on our boats, this one could be about who travels the best for four days.

Success this week is going to be 100 percent about where you decide to fish. I understand you can make that claim about every event. But trust me when I say this one is different, because it’s possible that every productive fishing spot will be a long, long way from our launch area.

Winyah Bay is a large body, but there won’t be any serious fishing in the Georgetown area, because the water is too salty. You’ve got to go inland. So we’re all going to have to saddle up and ride.

The choices will be the rivers: the Pee Dee, the Santee, the Black River and a few others.

The real choice for a lot of us will be whether to take our boats all the way to Charleston, then cut back up the Cooper River. Maybe guys will go all the way to the dam.

Deciding to do that creates two issues:

First, it’s 120 miles one way, which means two hours going and two coming back. It also means you’ve got to fill your tank twice, and it’s not like you’re going pull onto pit road and fuel up the way a NASCAR driver would. In our case, there could be 50 or 60 boats idling up to an off-the-path marina. And everybody’s got to fill up. That takes a lot of time.

The only time I’ve ever made a run like that was during the Classic a few years ago in New Orleans. I left New Orleans and took a 100 miles-plus trip to Venice. And that one only required one fill-up.

When you play with the time factor, it’s possible you’ll be left with two and a half hours to actually fish.

So that’s a problem.

The second issue with taking that kind of long-run gamble is that no outboard is designed to go wide open for two hours. Our engines aren’t really made for that kind of pace.

I would guess that if 50 Elite boats go to the Santee, a handful of guys will have engine trouble, a few might misjudge the fuel, and a few others might hit their props on debris. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to travel with a spare prop.

So, true as it is that every tournament hinges on the decision of where you decide to fish, the stakes could be a little higher in this one.

A long boat ride and a short fishing day  await.