The deploying of the tug boat, Apollo, dropped on the Little River Offshore Reef in January, is one of many projects Coastal Conservation Association South Carolina is involved in along the Palmetto State coast. Photo Courtesy Coastal Conservation Association South Carolina
CCA’s Waccamaw Chapter looking to again raise big dollars for charities
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
What has become a rite of spring returns to the banks of Murrells Inlet next Friday.
For the fourth consecutive year, the Waccamaw Chapter of Coastal Conservation Association South Carolina will stage its annual fundraising banquet at Sunnyside Plantation, a perfect setting under vintage mossy oak trees overlooking the inlet.
The Waccamaw Chapter has proven to be one of the top chapters in the Palmetto State, as the banquet raised a whopping $96,000 a year ago, according to chapter chairman Chris Hawley.
The funds raised go to ongoing programs and projects along South Carolina coast along with CCA’s advocacy work.
“The money raised at the banquet, it goes to all that habitat work and advocacy work,” said Scott Whitaker, executive director of CCA South Carolina. “It’s very unique to say the money raised from our local chapters, it stays right here in South Carolina for those kind of projects.”
CCA teams with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources on tangible projects that have an impact locally such as the South Carolina Oyster Restoration and Enhancement (SCORE) program and the establishment and enhancement of artificial reefs in the Atlantic Ocean.
The SCORE program, which involves establishing strategic new oyster reefs in estuaries along the S.C. coast, has been particularly prolific.
Whitaker says over 3,000 volunteers have deployed 29,950 bushels of used oyster shell weighing 681 tons on 136 reefs at 50 sites while using CCA-donated equipment.
Some of the sites are close to home, located in Murrells Inlet and Georgetown’s Winyah Bay.
CCA SC has supplied a bevy of oyster recycling equipment to the SCORE program including five trailers, three barges for oyster reef deployment and a dump truck. The program’s reach has spread inland with three oyster recycling sites now available in non-coastal counties.
Since 2009, six near-shore artificial reef projects have been completed off the S.C. coast, including placing Miss Candace, a 65-foot tugboat, on the North Inlet Reef located off Georgetown County and the Apollo, a 42-foot tugboat, on the Little River Offshore Reef.
The banquet begins at 6 p.m. on March 24, starting with a social hour during which attendees can enjoy drinks, bid on silent-auction items and enter raffles.
The Inlet Affairs-catered dinner is up next before the night is capped by a live auction, which will feature various hunting and fishing trips among other items.
Tickets are $60 for individuals, $85 for couples and include a year’s membership to CCA. Sponsorships are available. For more information, contact Hawley at 843-455-0371 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
OIFC Spring Kickoff & In-Water Boat Show
Capt. Brant McMullan of Ocean Isle Fishing Center says the OIFC’s Spring Kickoff, scheduled for next weekend March 25-26, is a three-fold event.
First, seminars conducted by outstanding saltwater fishing experts – both local and regional – will be held both days. Second, a store-wide sale on boating and fishing equipment is set for the OIFC both days.
But what sets this free event apart is the in-water boat show at the OIFC, located adjacent to the Intracoastal Waterway in Ocean Isle Beach, N.C.
Boat manufacturers that will have center-consoles on display include Yellowfin, Contender, Freeman, Onslow Bay, See Vee and Invincible.
“It’s an opportunity to get in and ride the top-of-the line center consoles in the industry,” said McMullan, a center-console connoisseur in his own right. “The only other place you can find the name brands we are hosting in the water is at (the Miami International Boat Show), and that’s the biggest boat show in the world.
“Right here at the OIFC, we’ll have 24-to-42 foot boats available. All these boats are recognized as the very best, but they’re all different, and you’ve got them all side-by-side to compare.”
The seminar speakers include Al Fulford (Flounder), McMullan (Kingfish Cup Series), Clay Morphis (Trout and Redfish), Jacky Dufour (Swordfish), Mark Henderson (King Mackerel), Ricky Kellum (Trout) and Joe Seegers (Dolphin).
A used tackle forum will also take place during the event. For more information, visit www.OIFC.com/kickoff or call (910) 575-FISH.
Marshall’s Marine Spring Fling
Another free event is set for Saturday morning at Marshall’s Marine in Georgetown, located at 507 Church Street, which includes seminars and a fish fry.
Those attending will be entered into a drawing to win a four-hour flounder trip with Capt. Jason Burton of Fly Girl Charters and Capt. Englis Glover.
Seminar speakers include Capt. J Baisch of Fishful Thinking Guide Service, Burton of Murrells Inlet Fishing Center, Capt. Fred Rourke of Sweet Tea Charters, Capt. Robert Strickland of Crazy Sister Marina and Capt. Randall Robinson of Crazy Sister Marina.
Event organizers ask attendees to donate used rod and reels if possible for an upcoming kids fishing program. A donation is not required to attend the event.
The event is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, call (843) 655-5459.
Jason Lee email@example.com
Fishing report: Cold spell slows activity on local waters, but relief is in sight
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
Look For: Spotted seatrout, black drum, red drum, sheepshead, tautog.
Comments: A major drop in the water temperature – thanks to this week’s late-winter arctic blast – has slowed the activity of fish and fishermen. With a return to normal late March air temperatures this weekend, look for spotted seatrout, black drum, red drum and flounder to be more active. A variety of species are available at area jetties at Winyah Bay, Murrells Inlet and Little River, including spotted seatrout, weakfish, red drum, black drum, sheepshead and tautog.
Look For: Sheepshead, black sea bass, black drum, weakfish, tautog, flounder, whiting, croaker.
Comments: There has been an expected big drop in the ocean water temperature thanks to the cold spell, says Carsten Fischer, manager of Apache Pier in Myrtle Beach. A week ago, the data station at the pier recorded a water temperature in the low 60s, but as of Thursday afternoon had dropped to 56 degrees on the surface and 55 on the bottom. The best bet on Grand Strand piers is whiting and croaker, with a few trout being caught, reports Fischer. “The whiting are getting a little bigger,” said Fischer. Although few anglers have hit the near-shore artificial reefs this week due to nasty conditions, they are still holding sheepshead, black sea bass, weakfish and black drum, with flounder and tautog also a possibility.
Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, porgy, grunts, amberjack.
Comments: It’s been cold, windy and rough offshore this week, with virtually no angler action. But wahoo are available on the offshore ledges through the winter and into spring, with blackfin tuna also a possibility for trolling boats. Bottom fishing for vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grunts, red porgy and amberjack is excellent if you can get to bottom spots, especially those in 80-100 feet of water. The annual Shallow-water Grouper Spawning Season Closure is in effect through April 30. Red snapper cannot be harvested and must be released in the South Atlantic region.
Look For: Catfish, crappie, bream, bass.
Comments: “Not many have been fishing but when they do go they’re still biting,” said River Squires of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. Bream had been hitting crickets near the banks before the cold snap arrived. With cooler water temperatures, bream are currently most likely to be found near the bottom hitting worms. Crappie are available, hitting minnows around brush and other structure while eels and shad are top baits for catfish. Squires notes bass action is good on the Little Pee Dee River.
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.