LAKE WYLIE — Warmer weather is good news for the local fishing industry, and for anglers looking to take a piece of the action.
Spring brings a return of the fishing-for-cash season that dominates Lake Wylie much of the year. Dozens of events large and small are planned for spring, some launching later this month.
“The fishing picks up in the spring on Wylie,” said Brett Collins, owner of Carolina Anglers Team Trail. “Over the years, everybody’s added so much rip-rap along the banks it doesn’t muddy up like it used to.”
His CATT group begins its spring series Feb. 23 on Wylie. That series fields six events on the lake, ending with one April 27.
Collins also coordinates Carolinas Bass Challenge, which runs five events February through May in its South Carolina series with a division and overall championship in the fall. The Wylie event is March 2. A North Carolina division final is Sept. 14 on Wylie.
The national, Christian tournament Fishers of Men will stop Feb. 23 on Lake Wylie Feb. 23, launching from Ebenezer Park in Rock Hill. That series fields five in-state events this month through April.
The Denver Marine Monster Bass spring series runs March through June, with Wylie dates March 23 and June 29.
Bass Fishing League comes to Wylie May 4 and June 15.
The Bassmaster Weekend Series brings tournaments May 11 and July 27 to Wylie’s shore.
Like Collins, tournament fishing season for Lake Wylie Bait & Tackle owner Ken Ponder isn’t just fun and games. It’s his livelihood. Ponder’s store sponsors or operates several series, but he knows if a tournament is in town because business picks up.
“You can tell by the flow,” he said.
He’s planning a Friday night series to run the first Friday in May through the last in August, with a September final.
For tournament organizers and anglers, events brings a payoff from a little more than $100 for the smaller events up to $5,000 for first place at a larger one.
Most payouts are based on the number of anglers or teams participating, which makes the spring a lucrative time.
“Spring is the best,” Ponder said, “because the summer you have too many recreational boaters out there.”
However, fishing never shuts down on Wylie. The winter Monster Bass series – a nine-tournament series that started in November – held its final Saturday, while a winter series at Bait & Tackle runs every Friday through Feb. 17, with a final Feb. 24.
The catfish anglers don’t wait on spring, either. Catawba Catfish Club began its season in September and finishes in April, holding tournaments Nov. 3 and Jan. 5 on Wylie. The two-day championship will be May 4-5 on Wylie.
The number of anglers are expected to swell as the season gets under way.”
“They’re ready to fish,” Collins said.