Search for missing boater in Abbeville County now into day 4 - FOX Carolina 21

Search for missing boater in Abbeville County now into day 4

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(FOX Carolina/File) (FOX Carolina/File)

The search  for a commercial angler reported missing on Richard B. Russell Lake in Abbeville County entered its fourth day on Wednesday.

South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Spokesperson, Greg Lucas, says DNR agents, Abbeville and Anderson County Sheriff's deputies and fishing guides that work on Lake Russell are out in boats looking for Mitchell Don Gibson of Starr.

 A Georgia DNR helicopter helped search from the air.

The searchers are looking for any sign of the boat and angler, including any fuel or oil sheen that is visible in the water.

Lucas says the search began Sunday, after Gibson was reported missing by his fishing company when he failed to return to the landing.  Workers for the company found the man's truck and boat trailer around 6 a.m. at Beer Garden Landing in Abbeville County.

Searchers went out again Wednesday morning and would again in the evening, Lucas said. Search efforts were scaled back because conditions were becoming unfavorable for locating the missing fisherman.

DNR agents say the angler was last seen at 12:30 a.m. on Sunday near the Lake Russell dam.  He says Gibson has spent several years fishing for shad on the lake.

A DNR plane and agents in boats, along with Abbeville County Sheriff's deputies spent Sunday looking for the man.

Searchers found some of the angler's personal items, including a cell phone and bait bucket, floating about a mile from Beer Garden Landing on Sunday morning.  Investigators estimate the items had been in the water for 8-12 hours when they were found.

The missing boat is a 24 foot aluminum craft with a 600 gallon tank that's used to keep the caught shad fresh.  DNR agents says the tank should not sink under normal circumstances.  It's design and construction should make it float, even if the rest of the boat is submerged.   

Agents aren't sure what happened at this point.  A small rain shower with some wind hit the lake around 4am but DNR agents don't know if weather is involved.

Lucas says shad fishing involves the use of halogen lights to attract the fish during their spawning run.  The fish are caught in nets and kept in large tanks on the boat to be sold as bait for anglers trying to catch bass.  He says shad fishing boats operate at very slow speeds, usually no more than six miles per hour.

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