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Annual Spanish Mackerel Derby

September 2, 2018 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Annual Spanish Mackerel Derby

Russell Baisch, Dan Baisch and Gradyn Baisch were the big winners in the Spanish Derby, held out of the Mullet Hut last Saturday in Murrells Inlet. Gradyn Baisch was the angler on a 4.78-pound Spanish mackerel that was the largest caught in the tournament. Submitted photo
How ‘Plan B’ helped this fishing crew haul in a victory, number of awards

By Gregg Holshouser

For The Sun News

August 31, 2018 04:01 PM

If you’re looking for advice on catching full-grown Spanish mackerel out of Murrells Inlet, the results of the inlet’s annual Spanish Mackerel Derby indicate Baisch Boys Bait & Tackle is the go-to place.

For the third time in the last four tournaments, one of the two Baisch brothers who operate the bait and tackle shop in the inlet finished in the top two.

This time, Capt. Russell Baisch, fishing with his brother Dan Baisch and Dan’s son Gradyn Baisch aboard Superstitious, weighed in a 4.78-pound Spanish to win the coveted Big Fish award Saturday along with the aggregate and Youth Angler awards.

Russell Baisch, the youngest of four Baisch brothers, is co-owner of the shop with his oldest brother, Capt. Jay Baisch, who was among the tournament’s winning crew in 2014 and finished second in 2016. The tournament, based out of the Mullet Hut on the Marshwalk, was canceled in 2017 due to rough seas.

Superstitious is a 28-foot catamaran owned by Chad McIntosh of Murrells Inlet, and it was a good day to be on a big boat, as a stiff northeast wind churned up dicey seas for boats competing in the tournament.

Russell Baisch didn’t want to be specific on the area he chose to fish, but the Baisch trio headed to a hard-bottom area located east-northeast of the Murrells Inlet jetties, right into the teeth of the wind.

The crew had intentions of live-chumming with finger mullet to get large Spanish mackerel fired up, but nixed that idea.

“We had 2,000 finger mullet in the live well and didn’t even throw ‘em out,” said Russell Baisch. “We thought the ocean wasn’t good enough for it – 15-20 out of the northeast with three-foot seas and choppy.”

The Baisch boys wisely had a Plan B – slow-trolling cigar minnows.

“Because of the sea conditions, a lot of people resorted to spoons,” said Russell Baisch. “We kept trolling bigger baits, hoping for a big one.”

The big one came in the form of a nice 4.78-pound Spanish, with 13-year-old Gradyn Baisch serving as the angler.

The fish wound up winning the crew the Big Spanish award, earned Gradyn the Junior Angler award, and was key in the winning 10.32-pound aggregate (three fish).

In all, they caught four Spanish and one king (17.76 pounds).

“The first (Spanish) we caught was 3.5 pounds, so we knew we had something decent,” said Russell Baisch. “The second fish was the king, the third fish was the 4.78. After that we caught a pair of Spanish at one pound each.”

Eddie Fisher aboard Warrior finished second with a 4.15-pound Spanish, followed by Brian Reynolds aboard Outcast with a 3.95-pounder.

Russell and Jay Baisch opened their bait and tackle shop after the building was left vacant following the death of David Altman, known as Big Dave, who passed away unexpectedly in January and was owner/operator of Big Dave’s Bait & Tackle at the location.

The Baisch boys saw a need to fill the void left in Altman’s untimely absence. And, like Altman, they are happy to offer quality fishing advice to their customers.

“We just wanted somewhere locals could come and have a family atmosphere,” said Russell Baisch. “We’ve got a big local base of friends that fish, and we wanted to bring local back to the bait business, really just give good honest information. Every day we have someone come in here and thank us for the info.”
Marlin Quay Shootout

The 2018 Marlin Quay King Mackerel Shoot Out is set for next weekend out of Marlin Quay Marina and Murrells Inlet.

The tournament marks the fourth and final event in the Southern Kingfish Association’s Division 3 (South Carolina).

“Kingfishing has been excellent,” said Chris Lawhon of Marlin Quay Marina. “Hopefully it holds through next week. We’ll see.”

Lawhon noted fishing teams don’t have to be members of SKA to compete in the tournament.

First place for the largest king mackerel weighed in is $15,000 guaranteed.

A mandatory captains meeting is scheduled for Friday (Sept. 7) at 6 p.m. Fishing is set for Saturday (Sept. 8), with scales closing at 6 p.m., and the awards ceremony to follow at 7 p.m.

Lawhon noted all proceeds of the tournament go to the Garden City Chapel Youth Ministries.

For more information, call 843-651-4444.
SALTT’s Back

School is back in session for the 2018-19 school year across South Carolina, and that means Coach, or Capt., Rayburn Poston is in action.

Poston’s Student Angler League Tournament Trail, well known as SALTT, is about to get rolling into its fifth year of youth fishing tournaments.

SALTT features divisions for red drum and largemouth bass, with middle and high school anglers competing against each other.

The SALTT, as Poston calls the trail, has consistently grown since its inception in 2014.

“We expect to have over 100 kids representing about 30-35 schools in mainly Horry and Georgetown counties, and the Charleston area,” said Poston.

The trail officially begins with the first tournament on Sept. 15, with other fall tournaments set for Oct. 20 and Nov. 3. All SALTT tournaments are held out of the Carroll Campbell Marine Complex on the Sampit River in Georgetown.

But first, Poston has a doozey of a pre-season event set up for Saturday, Sept. 8.

Poston’s Student Angler Pre-Season Kickoff Tourney will be held out of Bucksport Marina, with bass divisions for both high school and middle school anglers.

The prizes to the top three two-angler teams in each division will be substantial.

For more information, visit or contact Poston at 843-902-4274.

Wahoo fishing stays hot

August 31, 2018 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Wahoo fishing stays hot

Capt. Alex Hrycak and Chris Lawhon show off a 45-pound wahoo caught aboard Molar Man out of Marlin Quay Marina earlier this week. Courtesy photo
Grand Strand Fishing Report: Late-summer wahoo bite gets hot

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

August 30, 2018 05:12 PM

Updated August 30, 2018 06:50 PM

Look For: Flounder, red drum, black drum, spotted seatrout, sheepshead, ladyfish, bluefish, tarpon.

Comments: Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown has produced plenty of fish this week, just not too many lunkers. “I’ve been catching a lot of fish, mostly small fish,” said McDonald. On a Wednesday trip, for instance, McDonald’s crew caught 12 flounder, with one keeper above South Carolina’s 15-inch minimum size limit for flounder. Red drum, most under the 15-23 inch slot limit, and black drum, most under the 14-27 inch slot, were also caught on the trip. The flounder and reds hit finger mullet while cut shrimp worked for the black drum. Capt. Jordan Pate of Carolina Guide Service in Georgetown has had a super week catching tarpon out of Georgetown Landing Marina, including a pair of releases on Thursday. The first of September is hours away and, to McDonald, the end of the tarpon season is also on the horizon. “There’s still some around,” said McDonald. “I looked for them Tuesday and saw some. You’ll see them here in good numbers if nothing happens (weather-wise) for two more weeks. There may be a few scattered ones left after that.”


Look For: King mackerel, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, spadefish, black sea bass, flounder, weakfish, whiting, croaker, pompano, black drum.

Comments: As soon as the competitors in the Spanish Mackerel Derby finished battling a stiff northeast wind and sloppy seas last Saturday, the seas turned nice and superb near-shore action for Spanish and king mackerel was on. It’s been a super mackerel week on spots such as Paradise Reef, 10-Mile Reef and Belkie Bear out of Murrells Inlet and other spots in depths of 30-60 feet. Artificial reefs such as Paradise, Jim Caudle and Ron McManus are holding good numbers of spadefish, flounder and black sea bass, plus weakfish activity is picking up. Apache Pier reports undersized red drum, croaker, Spanish mackerel, flounder and a few whiting have been landed this week. The ocean water temperature was 83 degrees on the surface and bottom at the pier Thursday morning.

Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, dolphin, king mackerel, sailfish, barracuda, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grunts, porgy, amberjack, grouper.

Comments: The late-summer wahoo bite turned hot over the last week on areas along the break. “We’ve had a good week, we’ve had a 76-pounder, a 70, a bunch of 50s and 45s,” said Chris Lawhon of Marlin Quay Marina. “They’re definitely showing up.” Lawhon fished with Derrick Blanton aboard Blanton’s boat, My Boat, and the crew caught four wahoo out of six bites Monday, then for good measure hit the bottom to catch vermilion snapper, grouper and triggerfish. Also look for blackfin tuna, kings, barracuda and a few dolphin to show up in the trolling spreads. Other reef species available are black sea bass, amberjack and red porgy. Red snapper are being caught, as usual, but must be released in the South Atlantic Region.

Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.

Comments: With the holiday weekend signaling the end of summer, conditions are in place for superb late summer and fall fishing on local rivers. “(The rivers) are looking good, everything is looking promising,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. “It’s going to be amazing coming up.” Bass action has been good, highlighted by River Squires’ 5 1/2-pound lunker that won the Tuesday evening tournament out of Conway Marina. Squires fish hit a top-water lure. “Bream fishing has been hot and heavy,” said Stalvey. “The best reports have been on the Little Pee Dee between Pitts Landing and the Punch Bowl. All that area has produced some nice, nice limits for the fellows who have been going lately.” Catfish action has been consistently good. “Catfish have been good right on, even with the high water we had,” said Stalvey. Fresh cut eel and bream are top baits for catfish. The Waccamaw at Conway was in great shape, 7.65 feet at 7:15 a.m. Thursday, and making good tides. The Little Pee Dee at Galivants Ferry was also looking good, at 5.02 feet at 7 a.m. Thursday and slowly falling.

Capt. Jordan Pate of Carolina Guide Service ( and Jim Allison of Georgetown show off a tarpon caught and released in the Winyah Bay vicinity. The Silver King was Allison’s first tarpon. Photo courtesy of Carolina Guide Service

Red Snapper mini seasons reveals valuable data

August 26, 2018 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Red Snapper mini seasons reveals valuable data

Amy Vincent and Capt. Robert Strickland show off a large red snapper caught aboard the New Inlet Princess out of Murrells Inlet. Submitted photo
Here’s what the red snapper mini-season told us about the health of the species

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

August 25, 2018 03:56 PM

The stock of red snapper off the South Carolina coast is pretty darn good these days, as the two weekends of the 2018 red snapper season proved.

The 2018 mini-season concluded last Sunday, and Capt. Robert Strickland of the New Inlet Princess party boat was able to run trips targeting red snapper each of the six days of the season, Aug. 10-12 and 17-19.

It was a successful mini-season for Strickland, with plenty of fishermen aboard and plenty of red snapper landed.

Anglers were able to keep one red snapper per person with no minimum size limit, and on two of his trips Strickland said he produced 85-90 red snapper.

Earlier this year, with red snapper closed to harvest, Strickland found them so thick on a few bottom spots that he had to move to avoid catching them.

“I had a couple days where . . . by the time I got (everybody’s line) back up, we had close to a hundred (red snapper caught and then released),” said Strickland. “You just try to get out of there.”

Considering the resurgence in red snapper numbers, you will not be hard-pressed to find fishermen who want more access to the fishery throughout the year in the South Atlantic Region, instead of the short and quick mini-seasons NOAA Fisheries has offered the last two years.

In 2009, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) determined the South Atlantic red snapper stock was overfished and undergoing overfishing, and the fishery was closed in 2010 with a 35-year rebuilding plan put in place.

Over the last eight years, there have been sporadic mini-seasons, including consecutive seasons in 2017 and 2018, but largely the species has been closed to harvest since 2010.

Count Strickland among the South Atlantic snapper-grouper fishing experts that believe the process is a good one, and is working.

“I think they need to keep doing what they’re doing for a few more years, I don’t think (the red snapper stocks) are quite where they need to be yet,” said Strickland. “They’ve got that regulation right, I think they’re doing it right, and I don’t say that that often. I think they’ve got that one pretty dialed in.”

While some anglers have never seen red snapper fishing this good in local waters, the 48-year-old Strickland has.

Strickland, who has been a captain for 29 years, reflected back to his teenage days when he was a mate on a party boat out of Murrells Inlet.

“When I was working for (Capt.) Jack Orr when I was 15 or 16 in the late 80s, on some trips we had 200 to 300 head of red snapper on the boat,” Strickland said.

With the flurry of the red snapper mini-season over, Strickland is looking forward to the fast-approaching fall fishing season, when the bite is excellent, the weather cooler and the crowds smaller.

Strickland noted the New Inlet Princess will be running 11-hour Gulf Stream trips on Thursdays and Saturdays in September and October.

For more information, visit
Cherry Grove Pier

The staff at the Cherry Grove Pier is enduring a tough time after the untimely death of two longtime employees within a period of three days.

The staff is mourning the deaths of Matt Potts and Ronnie Goodwin, who died on Aug. 10 and Aug. 13, respectively.

“Ronnie had been with me 17 years and been my assistant for five years now,” said Steve Gann, manager of the Cherry Grove Pier. “Ronnie was a good boy. Matt was in his sixth year and he was best known for his long hair and body art – just a happy-go-lucky kid.

“We’re not over it.”

Goodwin and Potts were both natives of the North Carolina piedmont who fell in love with the beach life, and lived it out while working right on the beach at the pier.

Over the years, Goodwin usually answered the phone when I would call the pier looking for the latest info for my weekly fishing report.

Goodwin always answered the phone in his booming voice. He was always upbeat, easy-going, easy to talk to and eager to share quality fishing information.

I will greatly miss our weekly conversations.
Jake’s Project

Now this was one heck of an Eagle Scout project.

Jake Birchmeier, of Boy Scout Troop 360 at St. Paul’s Waccamaw United Methodist Church in Litchfield Beach, has practically single-handedly provided the south end of Pawleys Island with a beach accessible wheelchair for public use.

The 16-year-old Birchmeier, the son of Rob and Lisa Birchmeier and a junior at Waccamaw High School, also built a storage building for the wheelchair to be housed in.

Jake and his dad, Rob Birchmeier, are avid saltwater anglers, and can often be found surf-fishing on Litchfield Beach and Pawleys Island beaches.

The idea was spawned when Jake saw beach wheel chairs at Huntington Beach State Park, and realized the need for them on Pawleys Island beaches.

The Pawleys Island Town Council approved the project along with a small space for the storage shed beside the public parking lot on the south end of the island.

A big boost to the project came when Pawleys Island Masonic Lodge 409 donated a wheelchair.

The Birchmeiers teamed up to construct the storage building as donated funds came in to support the project.

The completed project, completely funded by private donations and volunteer work, was turned over to the Town of Pawleys Island on Monday.

Of note, the wheelchair and storage building are located at the public beach access adjacent to one of the prime shore-fishing spots along the Grand Strand.

“This chair is in a perfect location for surf fisherman,” said Rob Birchmeier. “It will allow access to the surf and the creek. The spot we do most of our surf fishing is right where the chair is located.”

The project left Mom and Dad pleased with their son.

“Lisa and I are so very proud of Jake,” said Rob Birchmeier. “His kindness, honesty and perseverance during his project is inspiring.”

In order to gain access to the wheelchair, contact the Town of Pawleys Island, located at 321 Myrtle Ave. in Pawleys Island.

Jake Birchmeier shows off the beach wheel chair and storage building he provided for the Town of Pawleys Island as an Eagle Scout project. Submitted photo