Riverwinds Landing pops up on site of former skating rink

The staff at Riverwinds Landing are prepared to welcome visitors to their lazy, laid-back corner of the lake. Staff photo by Tonya Rodgers

Brad Taylor grew up being just “like most kids on the lake.”

He loved fishing and swimming and going boating with friends and family. His family bought land from the Morris family in 1994 in the location where many locals will remember the old Morris Skating Rink used to be. Several buildings were on the property when Brad’s family purchased the land, and in 2004 these buildings were torn down and new ones constructed. Riverwinds Landing was established.

“Actually, our parking lot is in the exact location of where the skating rink was,” said Mr. Taylor.

Initially, a marina with a fully stocked store and three rental cabins were built.

“This was a time when Lake Murray was sleepy, but slowly things progressed and more cabins and docks for boat storage were added,” Mr. Taylor said.

Currently, Riverwinds is adding more dry boat slips and storage units, and the store now sells hamburgers, hot dogs, fishing supplies, and “the best boiled peanuts on Lake Murray.” They also offer gas and all that is needed for a fun day on the lake. They have pontoon boats and small fishing boat rentals to make it simple for anyone to enjoy the water, and their cabins are great for a lake getaway.

Mr. Taylor and his mother Carolyn own Riverwinds Landing and have made this venture a family affair. Mr. Taylor’s wife has worked in the store from time to time, and currently two family members, Becky Elders and Dale Price, help operate the day-to-day activities around the store.

Mr. Taylor has always loved anything Lake Murray, but he also has had an even greater passion. Since his early 20s, he was working pretty much full-time doing what he most enjoys: taking other people fishing so they can enjoy the pleasure of what the lake has to offer.

Taylor Outdoors, his outdoor fishing guide service, has grown from that love. Not only does he offer people a chance to get their lake accessories at the marina, but he thrives on offering a fishing service that allows him to take families, individuals, and groups out for a true glimpse of how exciting fishing can be.

As with so many things, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected both the marina and the guide service, but in different ways than some might think.

“Normally, about 60 percent of our business is repeat business, but this summer it has been about 75 percent new business,” he said. “People who were at home seem to feel like the lake is a safe place to be, so they have come out to see what we have to offer. We never closed the store totally, offering curbside service for a while, and I had to limit how many people I took out for guide services. However, Lake Murray is growing and business is good.”

Riverwinds is one big, happy family. Several new members of the family have come on board with Sarah Kanan from Michigan as the store manager and Buck Worthen from Oklahoma as the public relations manager. Hughey Capps, also known as “The Godfather of Striper fishing on Lake Murray,” is a daily presence, helping with various tasks.

“Our goals for the near future are to offer fishing tournaments, maybe even a noodling tournament, and getting our name out there so lake people know we are here, “ Mr. Worthen said. “We offer a family atmosphere and encourage people to come and enjoy a nice afternoon sitting on our front deck, overlooking one of the best views of the lake.  We have the friendliest staff of any place around.”  Riverwinds even has their own pet. Clarence, a local crane, makes his appearance daily at the marina, and of course he always gets fed and is treated like family.

Come on over sometime and enjoy the sights and sounds that no one but Brad Taylor and his Riverwinds crew can provide and maybe get to wake up to an early morning fishing trip.