Salt Water Anglers big on conservation

Photos Provided Summerville Salt Water Anglers form a line to distribute oysters to be added to the club’s oyster reef in the Ashley River.

Editor’s Note: This is the second part of a two-part series on the Summerville Salt Water Anglers fishing club. The first part ran in the July 2 issue and concentrated on the club’s youth programs.

The Summerville Salt Water Anglers are pulling more than just fish out of local waters.

Naturally, the club has done a lot of fishing since it was formed in 2011. It holds monthly fishing tournaments open to youth and adult members at no charge. In addition, it hosts a series of approximately six more formalized tournaments during the year. A small fee is required for the series, but the emphasis remains on club members having a good time.

The Summerville Salt Water Anglers are also big on conservation. Last March, the club had its first annual Upper Ashley River Cleanup Day. For the event, club members pulled a substantial amount of trash out of a section of the river and the adjoining marshland.

“In three hours we filled 45 contractor trash bags full of trash,” current club president David Fladd said. “That didn’t include the bigger items like tires and coolers we removed from the marsh. Hopefully overtime that will make a significant impact to the river. A lot of areas went from looking like a junkyard to looking like a pristine marsh but we didn’t even scratch the surface.”

Due to the success of the cleanup and interest expressed by those not involved with the first event, the club is opening its cleanup day to non-members willing to pitch in.

“All we need is manpower so if you want to help just show up with old clothing,” Fladd said. “I don’t like to hear talk. We have actually gone out and gotten dirty and done something about the river. A lot of people talk about how dirty it is and point fingers but those people need to start helping clean it up. We are actually cleaning it up and we are proud of that.”

Detailed information on the cleanup as well as other club activities can be found at or by emailing Fladd at

Three years ago, the club started working with DNR to build a massive oyster reef in the Ashley River. Plans are to continue planting 100 yards of oysters each year.

Since each oyster can filter several gallons of water a day, taking out pollutants and sediment, the oyster bed can make a positive impact on that section of the river and help provide food for small marine life.

“We took a rag-tag group of women, children and other club members out there and built the start of the reef,” Fladd said. “In 20 years we should have an oyster reef a mile long. This year we should start seeing the blades sticking up from the original oysters we planted.”

This year’s oyster planting is scheduled for July 19. As with all of the club’s activities, kids are welcome.

“The club was founded by Ralph Phillips,” Fladd said. “His vision was to have a family-oriented fishing club in Summerville. He is an accomplished fisherman and it got to where if he honored all the requests people made for him to take them fishing he would be out every day so he said ‘we really should have a fishing club and it shouldn’t be a drinking club but be family oriented.”

The Summerville Salt Water Anglers meet the second Wednesday of each month at Summerville Country Club. Annual membership dues are $25 per individual or $50 per family. The club currently has more than 150 members, which includes some 120 families.

“We do a lot of education, teaching people how to be better fishermen, but the bigger thing is we bring people and families together,” Fladd said “Anyone and any family in the greater Summerville area who is interested in saltwater fishing and wants to learn more about fishing would enjoy our club. You don’t have to have a boat to join and many of our members have gone from not being very successful at salt-water fishing to being very knowledgeable anglers. The club fishes inshore, mostly in the Ashley, Cooper and Wando rivers.

“Every river has an appeal of its own and there are certain times of day, times of year and certain tides that factor in,” club member Vince Lehr said. “Salt-water fishing can be like a big riddle and we like to give members some of the key pieces to the puzzle. Some members of the club came to us wanting to do some salt-water fishing but fearing they wouldn’t be any good at it.”