Brian Tyler of Johnsonville set a SC BASS Federation tournament record last Saturday with a five-fish limit from the Cooper River that weighed 42.3 pounds. Tyler destroyed the competition in a qualifying tournament out of Bushy Park Landing with his limit, which averaged better than 8 pounds per fish, featuring an 10.87-pound lunker.
“I only got into fishing about three years ago,” Tyler said. “I’ve always been much more of a bow hunter, but my son got me hooked on fishing bass tournaments.”
Tyler fished last Wednesday to scout out the river, catching a few small fish, but he noticed a few large fish on his depth finder on a bend in a deep feeder creek and marked the spot. They were in 13 feet of water, behind a log jam that had created a current break. In a couple of casts, he landed two nice fish and left.
Tyler returned Friday to check the spot, and his Humminbird depth finder showed about 50 fish.
“I thought for sure they had to be grass carp or striped bass,” said Tyler, who made a cast and hooked a largemouth bass, then backed off and checked other spots the rest of the day.
When Saturday arrived, Tyler ran right to his spot, but he found someone already fishing there. He fished close by for an hour while the other fisherman fished and came up empty-handed. When he finally left, Tyler moved to the spot and began casting a swimbait.
The first cast was a fish for the livewell,” Tyler said. “The first four casts were all fish. I missed on my fifth cast, but I had to cull fish by my seventh cast. It didn’t feel right having to cull three fish over 6 pounds.”
This spectacle caught the attention of nearby anglers, who decided to eat their lunch while Tyler was cranking in several more fish, including his biggest one.
Tyler became worried that his live wells were not large enough to keep his fish alive.
“I don’t know what I would have done if I had a co-angler on the boat fishing with me,” said Tyler, who quit fishing around 1 p.m. and spent the rest of the day focused on pumping fresh water into his live wells. “It was an indescribable feeling catching that many large fish. It really didn’t hit me until the next day.”
Tyler wound up putting his two biggest fish in one weigh-in bag and his other three in a second bag, worried that one bag might burst.
Tyler’s 42.3-pound bag was the biggest every caught in a South Carolina BASS Federation event, destroying the previous record of 29 pounds. The all-time BASS Federation catch was 45.2 pounds, caught by Arizona pro Dean Rojas in 2001 from Florida’s Kissimmee chain of lakes.
Tyler admitted that if he’d known he was that close to Rojas’s all-time record, he’d have fished harder the rest of the day to try and break it.
“I’m telling you, there is no way luck and skill alone won the tournament,” said Tyler. “A guy was sitting on that spot for an hour and didn’t catch anything, and then I go over there and catch them cast after cast. God is good.”