Anything Fly Fishing

Sign Me Up for Camp Woodie

3 Mins read

I recently attended an outdoor media event where photographers, writers, bloggers, and industry experts gathered to discuss all things outdoors. As is our tendency, we met at a place where story material abounded and inspiration crept, flew, and swam close by. Also, out of habit, I brought along a fly rod.

Camp Woodie is a residential summer camp for youngsters to spend time on outdoor skills.

This year’s event was held at Camp Woodie, a residential summer camp supported by the South Carolina Waterfowl Association. The camp is located in Pinewood, South Carolina, a town perhaps better known as being in Santee Cooper Country.

If you’ve never visited Santee Cooper Country, it’s a place where you can likely raise the weight of your personal best on many warmwater fishes. You can choose from largemouth bass, blue cats, or stripers and guides can put you on fish hefty enough to put a bend in your rod and a smile on your face.

At Camp Woodie, I attended sessions taught by experts on the outdoors and kept one eye on the small ponds that dotted the campus. Ducks waddled along the shore during the sessions, distracting me from the purpose of attending the conference. The lily pads on the ponds just made the water look that much more fishy.

With just a twitch, this popper could pass for a bug jumping off the lily pad.

As I got to mingle with camp staff, my fondness for the place grew. Camp Woodie is an outdoor residential camp for boys and girls from seven to sixteen years old. The camp week runs from Sunday to Friday, and during that timeframe the youngsters learn all manner of outdoor skills.

For instance, the campers can learn shooting skills from experts and polish them on sporting clays and skeet. They can learn archery and shoot 3-D targets on a woodland course. Also, during the week, they can canoe, fish, and be educated on a wide range of wildlife topics. All this made me wonder, where was this camp when I grew up?

But back to the fishing, the conference had some open time one morning so I threaded my fly rod, tied on a popper, and began to work the edges of the first pond I came to. For a spring morning, it was already feeling like summer and I wondered if it might be too late in the day for the fish to cooperate.

One of the staff shared that a pond off on a side road often produced trophy bass, something I figured could strain my five-weight, so I sauntered over to that impoundment. A long pier extended out near the center of the pond just past where the lily pads ended. A channel of open water probably twenty feet wide ran down the center.

Small bass jumped my popper along the edges of the lily pads.

Working my popper around the edges of the lily pads, I began to entice small bass from under the cover. The dark water hid the fish until the bug erupted in a splash with the strike. It felt a little like lighting cheap firecrackers when the fuses sputtered. Every cast might explode or it might not.

At times, a nice bluegill might take the popper in a sip.

On occasion, the bug would disappear in the sip of a big bluegill, perhaps selected by size as the popper was larger than I normally cast to bream. The fight was no less enjoyable than that of the bass and the variety of fish was a pleasant distraction. Somewhere in the distance, outdoor media folks were being rounded up for the next session.

I kept casting.

Also, I’ll admit that I had two missions on this fishing trip. One was that I wanted to catch some fish and take some photos. You know, do the hard work that outdoor media types are known for.

The second mission was to scout the lakes and report back to my grandson who would be attending camp in a few weeks. He figured since I was there I could report some advance intelligence on the fishing before he arrived at camp. I didn’t tell him that my fishing and intelligence were rarely mentioned in the same sentence, but I did my best.

But I did meet with him afterwards, gave him a few tips on the pond I had fished, and told him about the reports of big bass. Given that he would be spending an entire week there, his odds of catching a big one were considerably better than mine.

Still, I liked what I heard about the camp, what I saw there, and what I experienced. The only downside was that I’m now well outside the age range to attend myself. Perhaps they will make an exception someday for those who are still kids at heart.

If they do, you can sign me up for Camp Woodie.

More about Camp Woodie may be found at this link:

Jim Mize thinks every popping bug should come with directions to a pond with lily pads. You can purchase Jim’s award-winning book, The Jon Boat Years, at or buy autographed copies at

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