The crew of Game Hawg including Jerry Fehlig, Wade Fehlig, Joey Arakas and Watson Fehlig show off a 70.5-pound wahoo that was the biggest caught in the Georgetown Wahoo Challenge last weekend. Courtesy photo
‘We were due’: How a local fishing crew finally reeled in elusive tournament victory
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
August 17, 2018 08:00 PM
It all came together perfectly for the Georgetown Wahoo Challenge last weekend, with tranquil seas and a record number of entries in the tournament.
The Game Hawg Fishing Team gave credence to the high-speed trolling method for wahoo with a two-fish aggregate of 111.4-pounds to win the tournament staged out of Georgetown Landing Marina.
Jerry Fehlig, of Conway, and Joey Arakas, owner of Joe’s Bar and Grill in North Myrtle Beach, are partners aboard the 32 Contender with twin 300 Yamahas provided by Sportsman’s Choice Marine in Longs.
Game Hawg’s big day was last Friday, highlighted by a 70.5-pound wahoo to go with a 40.9-pounder to complete the winning aggregate.
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Pawley Girl was second with an 81.9-pound aggregate and Big Sky was third at 78.7 pounds as the field swelled to 41 boats, a record for the event as a total of 67 wahoo were weighed in.
Boats were allowed to fish one of two days, last Friday or Saturday, but Game Hawg submitted two entry fees and fished both days.
The five-man crew, including Fehlig and his sons Watson and Wade, Arakas and Allen Cooper, caught four wahoo both days, but Friday was when they ran across big fish.
With Wade Fehlig at the helm, the crew trolled high-speed lures, including Ballyhood, Bost and custom-made lures, from the Georgetown Hole to the Winyah Scarp.
“(Trolling) speed depends on sea conditions, between 12 and 18 mph,” said Jerry Fehlig.
The bite of the day came on a Bost lure, with Cooper serving as the angler on a 50-wide Shimano reel.
“The bite is pretty ferocious when you’re going that fast with a fish that big,” said Jerry Fehlig. “It’s a cool bite. It usually takes 5-15 minutes to get the fish on gaff. It was closer to 15 than five with this fish. That’s a good fish. We put two gaffs (by Joey and Watson) in that fish to make sure we got it in the boat.
“We weren’t thinking much about how big it was until we got him in the boat. Until you get him in the boat you gotta keep your game face on. There was a lot of hollering and high fives when it hit the deck.”
The Game Hawg Fishing Team is a regular competitor in Southern Kingfish Association and Kingfish Cup king mackerel tournaments, along with various wahoo tournaments, but this is the first time they’ve finished in the winner’s circle.
“I’ve been second a lot,” said Jerry Fehlig, who said the team finished third in the event two years ago. “We were due.”
The victory earned the crew over $16,000 in the tournament, sponsored by Georgetown’s Tailwalker Marine.
“It’ll pay for some fuel,” said Jerry Fehlig.
Murrells Inlet’s Spanish Mackerel Derby will be held next weekend, Aug. 24-25, based out of the Mullet Hut on the Marshwalk. The tournament has deep pockets for the 8th annual edition, including over $20,000 in cash and prizes. For more information, call Robert Thompson at 843-602-0910.
A young angler displays a red snapper caught last weekend while fishing with Aces Up Fishing and Capt. Jay Sconyers out of Murrells Inlet. The 2018 red snapper mini-season continues this weekend, Friday through Sunday. Photo courtesy of Aces Up Fishing
Grand Strand Fishing Report: Last chance for anglers to keep this popular fish in ’18
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
August 16, 2018 07:02 PM
Updated August 16, 2018 07:02 PM
Look For: Flounder, red drum, black drum, spotted seatrout, sheepshead, ladyfish, bluefish, tarpon.
Comments: Flounder are the best bet in local estuaries with live finger mullet currently the prime bait. Fish the dropoffs along the banks, and don’t be surprised to also catch red drum or spotted seatrout on the finger mullet. Live or fresh cut shrimp is the prime bait for black drum. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown has hooked up with plenty of reds this week, but he has either caught dink reds in the 12-inch range or bull reds well over the 15-23 inch slot limit. McDonald has used live finger mullet in Winyah Bay, North Inlet and areas south of Georgetown, and has also caught flounder and ladyfish. Tarpon are available in Winyah Bay and the Santee Delta region south of Georgetown.
Look For: King mackerel, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, spadefish, black sea bass, flounder, weakfish, whiting, croaker, pompano, black drum.
Comments: The flounder bite is good on near-shore artificial reefs such as Jim Caudle Reef, Ron McManus Memorial Reef and Paradise Reef, with spadefish and black sea bass also available. Live finger mullet are a choice bait for flounder, but anglers should keep in mind the minimum size limits of 15 inches for flounder and 13 inches for black sea bass. Always be ready for pelagic species like Spanish mackerel, king mackerel and cobia to show up while fishing the reefs. Moe Deets of The Pier at Garden City reports an angler caught four pompano include two sizable ones Thursday. Deets notes whiting, croaker and Spanish mackerel have also been landed this week. Michael Wallace of Cherry Grove Pier reports whiting, croaker, spadefish, ribbonfish and a few Spanish have been caught this week despite muddy water conditions. The ocean water temperature at the pier was 85 degrees.
Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, dolphin, king mackerel, sailfish, barracuda, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grunts, porgy, amberjack, grouper.
Comments: We’re right smack in the middle of the 2018 red snapper season in the South Atlantic Region. This weekend, Friday through Sunday, recreational anglers can harvest one red snapper per person with no size limit. The same limits were in effect last weekend, and sea conditions were very nice on Friday and Saturday, allowing numerous boats to get offshore. Among those was the New Inlet Princess party boat out of Murrells Inlet, which had a boatload of anglers aboard last Friday, the opening day of the season. About a dozen red snapper were landed on the trip and fishing proved to be very good, with many anglers taking home a limit of five vermilion snapper. An assortment of triggerfish, red porgy, black sea bass and grouper along with a king mackerel in the 15-pound range were also caught. A cobia in the 30-inch range was also caught and released. Trolling action is good for wahoo near the break, with the field of 41 boats in the Georgetown Wahoo Challenge catching a combined 67 wahoo last Friday and Saturday.
Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.
Comments: Despite high water levels fishing is still productive on local rivers. The Waccamaw River near Conway was still above nine feet, at 9.39 feet at 4:15 p.m. Thursday, but was forecast to begin falling over the weekend. The Little Pee Dee near Galivants Ferry has remained near steady over the last week and was at 6.47 feet Thursday at 4 p.m. “The next couple weeks things will be leveled out,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. Bream will take a variety of baits including worms, beetle spins and popping bugs, but crickets are the best bet. Bass are hitting top water. “Trick worms and buzz baits have been the hot (lures) this week,” said Stalvey. Catfish action remains good, as Stalvey reports flatheads weighing 50 and 37 pounds were caught this week. Eel and bream are top baits for catfish.
Bryan Baxter and Matt DeAntonio show off the winning 44.20-pound king mackerel in the James Island Yacht Club King Mackerel Tournament Saturday. Courtesy photo
A popular fish is now available, and why a Kingfish tournament win was sentimental
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
August 10, 2018 04:09 PM
Bryan Baxter has been part of the winning team in five different Southern Kingfish Association-sanctioned tournaments over the last 14 years, but the latest win is particularly special.
Baxter and his fishing partners – Matt DeAntonio, Gifford Scott and Leigh Colyer, all of the Charleston area – weighed in a 44.20-pound king to win the James Island Yacht Club King Mackerel Tournament Saturday aboard Baxter’s 27-foot Onslow Bay powered by Suzuki.
After securing the win, Baxter’s thoughts quickly turned to his dad, Bobby Baxter, who passed away in June, 2017.
“That win’s definitely dedicated to him,” said Baxter. “This is the first summer he hasn’t been around. He would have been the first one out there high-fiving me.”
The victory continued a string of success for Baxter’s team, dubbed Onslow Bay/Net Profit, with previous wins in SKA events at Edisto Island, Charleston, Sullivan’s Island and the first coming in the 2005 Frantic Atlantic tournament out of Harbourgate Marina in North Myrtle Beach.
“My Dad raised me on the water, fishing, king fishing,” said Baxter. “I definitely owe it all to him.”
Along with landing the largest king, Baxter’s crew won the Small Boat Class. Less than a pound behind was Billy Freeman’s crew aboard Mas Pescado, which weighed in a 43.75-pound king and won the Open Class.
“We knew the Freeman boys had a 40-pounder, and we barely eked it out at the weigh-in,” said Baxter.
Baxter and crew fished a live-bottom area in 100 feet of water, a spot he typically bottom fishes on.
The winning fish came aboard in textbook fashion.
“The fish ate a live bait (menhaden) and Matt was on the rod,” said Baxter. “Five minutes later, I gaffed it. We knew we had a good fish. I looked at it for 60 seconds and we put it in the Sea Angler Gear fish bag.”
The smoker king was the highlight of a busy day for the crew.
“We probably caught 12 fish but they were all small early and that fish hit late morning,” said Baxter. “We continued to fish until 2:30 p.m. We released another probably upper 30-pound fish at noon, another about 30-pounder at 1 p.m. We had a good, fun day and caught some fish.”
The tournament was the second in SKA’s Division 3 (South Carolina) with two more events in the division to go – the Fishing For Miracles King Mackerel Tournament out of Ripley Light Yacht Club in Charleston on Aug. 17-18 and the Marlin Quay King Mackerel Shootout out of Marlin Quay Marina in Murrells Inlet from Sept. 7-9.
Wahoo Challenge: The tournament out of Georgetown Landing Marina is underway with fishing concluding Saturday. Scales closed at 7 p.m.
Spanish Derby: Murrells Inlet’s Spanish Mackerel Derby will be held Aug. 24-25, based out of the Mullet Hut on the Marshwalk. The tournament has deep pockets for the eighth annual edition, including over $20,000 in cash and prizes. For more information, call Robert Thompson at 843-602-0910.
Red Snapper Season: The much-anticipated red snapper mini-season has arrived, and the weather, for once, looks to be stable.
The season for recreational anglers is open Friday through Sunday (Aug. 10-12) and again next weekend, Aug. 17-19. Red snapper can be harvested in federal waters (beyond three miles offshore) with a daily bag limit of one fish per person per day and no minimum size limit.
Recreational anglers are encouraged to report the details of their red snapper fishing trips via www.MyFishCount.com, which allows anglers to report their catches using photos to document lengths, as well as depths from which fish are caught.