The University of South Carolina duo of Patrick Walters and Tyler All show off some of the bass they weighed in during the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Southern Regional presented by Bass Pro Shops at Winyah Bay, held last weekend in Georgetown. Walters and All won the regional. Submitted photo
With victory in sight, USC fishing crew caps tournament with big surprise
BY GREGG HOLSHOUSER
For The Sun News
No matter the sport, on field, water or court, finishing strong is the key to winning.
The University of South Carolina duo of Patrick Walters and Tyler All did just that last Saturday to capture first place in the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Southern Regional presented by Bass Pro Shops at Winyah Bay.
Walters and All weighed an astonishing five-bass limit bag of 20 pounds, 11 ounces before a sizable final-day crowd at Georgetown’s Carroll Campbell Marine Complex to finish with a winning three-day total of 47 pounds, 14 ounces.
Walters and All, both from Summerville, found a hot spot in the North Santee River that was very productive for them all three days of fishing, and it produced a 7-pound, 6-ounce lunker that hit a hard jerkbait, capping the tourney on the final day.
“It was a river bend with a ditch mouth in it,” said Walters, who caught the win-clinching lunker. “(The fish) were set up on current breaks around there.”
With the lead in hand entering the final day, the duo were looking for a solid five-fish limit to secure the win.
“We knew we had to go out and finish strong to seal it,” said All. “When Patrick caught the 7-6 (around 10:30 a.m.) we were pretty elated. We already had a limit, and when we got the big fish in the boat, it was the icing on the cake.”
Walters added “We knew if we worked hard we could do it. We live only an hour-and-a half from Georgetown and that made it even more special.”
Jonathan Kelley and Max McQuaide of Coastal Carolina University were just 1 pound, 4 ounces off the pace set by Walters and All heading into the final day of fishing, but couldn’t overcome the Gamecock duo’s stellar finish and finished second.
Kelley and McQuaide fished an area 70 miles up the Pee Dee River and weighed in a final-day limit of 12-15 to finish with a three-day total of 38-14. They fished still-water lakes around cypress trees and laydowns using finesse worms and spinnerbaits.
“Going into the last day, we were just over a pound out but (Walters and All) had a really insane day, pulled away and took the win,” said Kelley. “The ultimate goal was to win but I was pleased with our showing. We expected about 36 pounds to win the tournament and we exceeded that goal.”
Kelley, of Old Forge, Pa., is a junior business management major at CCU while McQuaide hails from Tynzsboro, Mass., and is a freshman sociology major.
Both duos were impressed with the scene at the final weigh-in at the Campbell Marine Complex in Georgetown, which is a rising host venue for regional and even national bass and redfish tournaments.
“We were there to represent the Gamecocks,” said Walters. “There were about 200-300 people in the crowd and I’ll bet 100 of them were wearing Gamecock apparel. They were representing. Georgetown really went out of their way hand over foot (for the collegiate teams).”
The weigh-in crowd caught the Chanticleer duo’s eyes too.
“That was really an eye-opening event for us,” said Kelley. “To turn the corner on that last day to see that crowd was truly amazing. To have that at a college event was really something special.”
The field of 77 teams was trimmed to 20 on Saturday, with the top 13 teams qualifying for the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops, to be held this summer at site to be determined.
Rounding out the top five teams were Noah Pescitelli and Sean Hall of the Savannah College of Art and Design (35-4) in third, Collin Smith and Ben Stone of Lander (34-5) in fourth and Rick Couch Jr. and John Kaufman of Central Florida (31-7) in fifth.
Another CCU duo, John Duarte and Chesley Alford, finished seventh overall with a weight of 28-14 to also qualify for the national championship.
Live Great Outdoors
A controversial Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) application dealing with snapper-grouper fishing will be discussed at next week’s South Atlantic Fishery Management Council meeting in Jekyll Island, Ga. Submitted photo
Controversy brewing over Exempted Fishing Permit
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
A storm is brewing in the South Atlantic region, a storm of controversy over snapper-grouper fisheries access and allocation.
A group of four commercial fishing businesses – the South Atlantic Commercial Fishing Collaborative – filed an Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) application with the National Marine Fisheries Service on Feb. 6.
If approved by NMFS, the EFP would allow a group of 25 snapper-grouper boats operated by the four businesses to harvest blueline tilefish, gag grouper, gray triggerfish, greater amberjack, vermilion snapper and species in the jacks complex for two years (2018-19) in a pilot program while being exempt from numerous fishing regulations.
The generic name for such a fisheries management method is catch shares, which, according to NOAA Fisheries, is a program in which “a portion of the catch for a species is allocated to individual fishermen or groups. Each holder of a catch share must stop fishing when his/her specific share of the quota is reached.”
But it is a concept the huge majority of saltwater fishermen – recreational fishermen and small commercial fishing operations – have proven to be vehemently opposed to.
The South Atlantic Commercial Fishing Collaborative is trying to help its snapper-grouper fishing operations get away from short, derby-style fishing seasons, which it says creates quota overages, numerous fish discards and marketplace instability that results in fluctuations in price.
Opponents say the EFP application is unfair privatization of public marine resources, and a bevy of opposition to the proposal has arisen on the local and state level in South Carolina.
The South Carolina House of Representatives on Thursday issued a resolution against the use of catch shares in the South Atlantic Region, a move that was quickly praised by Coastal Conservation Association South Carolina.
“Coastal Conservation Association is opposed to the concept of catch shares, particularly in mixed-use fisheries in which there is both recreational and commercial participation,” said Scott Whitaker, executive director of the South Carolina chapter of CCA.
“We truly appreciate these efforts by our local elected officials because, though public opposition to these privatization polices has been overwhelming and vocal, the federal management system has routinely ignored our objections.”
Brad Dean, President and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, on Tuesday sent a letter to Greg Waugh, Executive Director of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, stating the MBACC Board of Directors unanimously voted to oppose the EFP.
Marc Jordan, President and CEO of the North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce, posted his organization’s opposition to the EFP on a comments section of the SAFMC website.
Two of the four businessmen listed on the EFP Application are members of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, which will address the issue at next week’s council meeting, set for Monday through Friday in Jekyll Island, Ga.
Chris Conklin of Murrells Inlet, owner of Seven Seas Seafood, and Charlie Phillips of Townsend, Ga., owner of Phillips Seafood and Sapelo Sea Farms, are both on the council.
Phillips is the council’s vice-chairman while Conklin is one of three South Carolinians on the council, holding the state’s obligatory seat.
The other two businessmen in the collaborative are Jack Cox, of Morehead City, N.C., owner of Crystal Coast Fisheries and co-owner of Blue Ocean Market, and Scott Buff of Oak Island, N.C., who operates a number of snapper-grouper commercial fishing boats. Cox held an at-large seat on the SAFMC from 2013-16.
Conklin and Cox on Friday expressed the issues facing the snapper-grouper commercial fishing “bandit boats” they operate that pushed them to move forward with the application.
“What we’re interested in is to have access to the fishery throughout the year, year-round, (but) still respecting our spawning season closures,” said Cox. “All we want to do is to catch what we’ve been catching historically in proportion to what we were going to catch (during a year) anyway. We just want to be able to access that fishery when we feel like it’s best for our fishermen and best for the consumer.”
Conklin is unhappy with the effect he feels current fisheries management has on snapper-grouper commercial fishing in the South Atlantic region.
“Current (fisheries) management is about to force us to go out of business here,” said Conklin. “We’re on the threshold of profitability for the traditional type (snapper-grouper) boats. If we keep going down this road of mismanagement that we’re under, it’s going to make our equipment obsolete.”
Cox added “we’re commercial fishermen, we’re businessmen, we’re just trying to figure out how to stay in business because existing management is kicking us to the curb.”
Conklin expects the SAFMC to address the issue on Thursday afternoon at the council meeting, set for The Westin Jekyll Island in Jekyll Island, Ga.
“We’ve already spent thousands and thousands of dollars to get this far (with the EFP application) and all we’re asking for is people not to come to public comment and raise hell and say ‘we don’t want this,’ ” said Cox. “You get to a better place when you say ‘I don’t agree with what you’re doing, I don’t like what you’re doing but here’s what I suggest.’ That’s what we’re asking for.”
Fishermen wishing to comment on the issue can find a public comment form and view a meeting agenda at www.safmc.net/safmc-meetings/council-meetings/.