Fishing Event For Special Needs Kids Held At Lake Wateree

By Terry Madewell

When an idea becomes a plan and that plan evolves into reality, typically a highly successful endeavor results. More importantly, when that idea is truly selfless in nature and involves scores of volunteers with the sole focus of helping others enjoy the outdoors it becomes a really big deal. Such an event occurred on Lake Wateree this June when 25 of the top fishing guides and tournament catfishermen from North and South Carolina converged on Lake Wateree to participate in the inaugural Lake Wateree Catfishing event for children with special needs.Under the auspices of the United Special Sportsman Alliance, Inc. (USSA) 35 special needs children, along with their parents, were able to catfish on Lake Wateree, one of the top catfishing lakes in South Carolina. By default that makes it among the best catfish lakes anywhere.Despite flooding weather prior to the event, every boat caught fish and catfish up to 25 pounds were taken in the brief but highly exciting four hours of fishing.The guy with the original idea that became a plan and morphed into reality was Justin Whiteside, a multi-species fishing guide on several lakes in the Carolinas.

My original idea was to give back to the sport of fishing, because fishing and all the outdoors opportunities have meant so much to me and so many of the people I know,” Whitesidesaid. “Fishing has had a profound impact on my life in a very positive way and talking to some of my friends, consisting of both fishing guides and top catfish tournament anglers, the idea morphed into a plan to help others experience fishing. With the help of the USSA and founder and director Bridig O’Donoghue, we were able get this done.”Early June at Lake Wateree is prime time for catfishing and these guides and tournament anglers donated a day of peak fishing time to help others. Without exception, every one of them echoed the same sentiment at the end of the day… “One of the best things I’ve ever been involved with in the sport of fishing.”  The reactions from the kids were incredibly positive and Cheyenne Newton , an 11 year old from Pickens, South Carolina, was fishing with Brian Snipes and enjoyed had several firsts in fishing that morning.“I caught my first catfish, then a really big catfish,” she said. “After that I caught a big striper,” she said. “This is just a great day.”Columbia Angler September 2018: Lake Wateree Fishing EventColumbia Angler September 2018: Lake Wateree Fishing EventColumbia Angler September 2018: Lake Wateree Fishing Event