Drive-Thru Bait

Upstate Outdoors
June 08, 2018 - 4:53 pm
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Phillip Gentry

In these United States of America consumers are constantly on the go. To improve customer service while providing convenience for the customer over the years, many businesses developed the “Drive-Thru”. The drive thru allows the consumer to purchase necessary items without having to exit their vehicle, walk into the store, shop, and lose precious time. We have drive thru restaurants, drive thru pharmacies, drive thru banking, and even drive thru car washes, but drive thru bait?

For local anglers, particularly those who love to fish for the South Carolina state fish – the land-locked striped bass- obtaining bait before the fishing started was a chore in and of itself. Anglers had to arrive at the lake much earlier, load the boat, search for an area that held live bait – usually shad, throw a cast net, sort the bait, store the bait in a holding tank, then head out to the fishing grounds to try to catch fish. Today in the Upstate of South Carolina, getting bait is as simple as pulling through the drive thru.

“Back when I used to guide for stripers, I had to catch bait before I could start fishing,” said former TV show host Monty McGuffin, who now works at a local drive in bait and tackle store. “If I couldn’t get bait, I couldn’t fish. People who are just getting started in striper fishing don’t realize how good they have it.”

Many local bait shops carry minnows – a staple for all kinds of fishing – but striped bass anglers have special needs. First of all the number one bait used for striped bass is blueback herring, a species found in our local lakes but more than a little difficult to acquire for the novice angler.

“These bait men that supply these stores with herring have taken a lot of the work out of striper fishing and have made it much easier for striper anglers,” said McGuffin.

The bait men that McGuffin are referring to are hard core commercial fishermen who spend sleepless nights throwing cast nets in the waters of the upper tributaries of Lakes Russell and Clarks Hill, or anywhere else they can locate concentrations of baitfish, and store their catches live in large portable tanks.

These same individuals then often drive hundreds of miles before daylight to deliver the live, fresh-caught bait to bait stores and shops in the Carolinas and Georgia.

To facilitate the process for the angler, many of these specialty shops offer drive thru service. The anglers simply drive up to the holding tank at the bait store where they can get treated water, ice and bait delivered directly into the angler’s on-board livewell or bait holding tank. 

These stores are one-stop shops where anglers can buy bait, ice, snacks, drinks and tackle for a day’s fishing, often in 20 minutes or less. 

“It has made live bait fishing for stripers or catfish or even bass much easier,” said McGuffin. “We even have a lot of commercial fishing guides come through the shop these days. They pull in, get what they need, and then they are off to meet their clients for an enjoyable day of fishing.”

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Phillip Gentry is the host of "Upstate Outdoors," broadcast noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays on 106.3 WORD FM. The show can also be heard online at 1063WORD.com live or via podcast. ********************

The chore of catching live bait before a day of striper fishing has been replaced with the convenience of drive up and even drive through delivery of bait for Upstate anglers. Photo by Phillip Gentry.

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