Flounder have arrived in local estuaries, marking the arrival of spring. Submitted photo
Flounder have arrived. What that means for Grand Strand fishing
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
April 20, 2018 06:44 PM
When the flounder bite turns on in the estuaries along the Grand Strand, from Georgetown to Brunswick County, N.C., you can rest assured spring has arrived.
The flounder are biting, thus spring is finally here, after one of the most prolonged winters in recent memory on the East Coast.
Some flounder stay in the estuaries year-round, but the majority head for the ocean for the winter.
Each April, flounder that departed the estuaries for the Atlantic Ocean as the water temperature cooled in late fall return for about seven months of warm weather.
For nearly two decades, the Grand Strand Saltwater Anglers Flounder Tournament has been staged in Murrells Inlet to welcome the return of the flounder, and the arrival of spring.
The 17th annual tournament will be held next Saturday, April 28 in the inlet, with a catch.
The minimum size limit for flounder in South Carolina waters increased to 15 inches on July 1, 2017. For a flounder to be weighed into the Grand Strand Saltwater Anglers tournament, a flounder must measure 16 inches.
April also marks the occurrence of large bluefish in local waters, and the club includes a bluefish division in the tournament for an extra $5 fee.
The Captains Meeting for the event will be held at the Beaver Bar in Murrells Inlet on Friday at 5:30 p.m., with fishing set for the next morning with lines in at 6 a.m. The weigh-in is set for 3-5 p.m. next Saturday at Crazy Sister Marina.
The grand prize of the tournament is $1,500 for the largest flounder weighed in.
The 17th annual tournament is dedicated to the late Ken Buys, a prominent club member who passed away in 2017.
For more information, call Ed Skowysz at 843-450-8218 or Chick McDaniel at 843-651-2076.
Another rite of spring is the arrival of dolphin in the offshore waters, typically in late April.
When dolphin arrive from the south and east, the three components of an offshore Carolina meatfish slam – wahoo, tuna and dolphin – will be present, thus the name of the Georgetown Meatfish Slam.
The 10th annual slam will be held next Friday and Saturday (April 27-28) out of Georgetown Landing Marina. The public is invited to the weigh-in both days, with scales opening at 3 p.m. and closing at 7 p.m.
The Captains Meeting will be held Thursday at 6 p.m. For more information, call 843-546-1776.
SALTT No. 5
The 5th event of the Student Angler League Tournament Trail was staged last Saturday out of the Carroll Campbell Marine Complex in Georgetown.
The trail is open to middle and high school anglers targeting red drum and largemouth bass in separate categories.
Conway Middle School claimed the top two spots in the red drum division, led by Ashton Rouhselang and Lance Cooper with 6.68 pounds, including big fish honors. Donovan Harris fished solo and weighed in 4.26 pounds to finish in second place.
Noah Payne and Kadyn Kellahan of Andrew High School finished third in the red drum division with 3.30 pounds.
Bennett Lawshe and Matt Caines of Waccamaw High School won the bass division with 13.10 pounds including big fish honors.
Wade Kelly of Waccamaw Middle School and partner Michael Paglio of Waccamaw High School took second with 10.71 pounds despite fishing only six of eight hours allowed.
Jackson Denny of Carolina Forest High School also fished solo, but finished third in the bass division with 10.03 pounds.
The sixth and final trail will be held on May 5 out of the Campbell Marine Complex, an event that will determine the winners in all four divisions for the 2017-18 school year.
For more information, visit www.salttfishing.com.
A redfish (pictured is an over-slot redfish that was caught and released) was devoured by a larger bluefish in shallow water in the Myrtle Beach area this week. Contributed photo
Relentless wind continues to hamper fishing; monster bluefish devours hooked redfish
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
Updated April 19, 2018 07:23 PM
Look For: Flounder, red drum, black drum, bluefish, spotted seatrout, sheepshead.
Comments: For anglers along the Carolina coast, it’s been a spring to forget, at least in terms of windy conditions. “You can count on one hand the number of days we’ve had winds under 15 mph since the big freeze in early January,” said Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown. In the Georgetown/Winyah Bay area, the wind piles waves up on the banks, washing pluff mud into the water. “It muddies that water up,” said McDonald. “The water’s real muddy right now.” On a Thursday trip, facing stiff westerly winds at 15-20 mph to go with the muddy water, McDonald produced a few red drum in the area south of Georgetown. Capt. Jason Burton of Murrells Inlet Fishing Charters wound up with a whale of a fishing tale on Wednesday, with pictures to back it up. Burton’s crew was fishing in three feet of water in the inlet when one angler hooked up with an undersized red drum. As the 13-14 inch red neared the boat, it was attacked and devoured by a huge bluefish. Suddenly the shallow creek was alive with the thrashing bluefish, which was now hooked. The blue was boated and wound up weighing just over 11 pounds. On a windy day, Burton’s crew also caught 15 flounder including three keepers over South Carolina’s minimum size limit of 15 inches.
Help us deliver journalism that makes a difference in our community.
Look For: Bluefish, Spanish mackerel, black sea bass, weakfish, flounder, whiting, croaker, pompano.
Comments: “Brutal, just brutal,” said Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters in describing the windy weather and sea conditions of late. Just after bluefish and Spanish mackerel arrived in the inshore waters about a week ago, the wind kicked in again with a vengeance and anglers haven’t been able to get out into the ocean. When conditions permit, the near-shore reefs are holding plenty of bluefish and black sea bass along with Spanish, weakfish and flounder. The wind has also been a pain for pier anglers, who have been catching mainly whiting, croaker, bluefish and a few flounder. When conditions calm down, look for Spanish and pompano to show up along the beach. The water temperature at mid-afternoon Thursday at the Cherry Grove Pier was 63 degrees at the surface and on the bottom.
Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, dolphin, grouper, vermilion snapper, triggerfish, porgy, black sea bass, grunts.
Comments: There was a brief and slight respite from the wind last weekend, and numerous boats made it offshore to reap the benefits of mid-April trolling. The Underdog out of Murrells Inlet, captained by Buddy Smith and owned by Capt. Shawn Thomas, had a solid day that was typical of the catches last Saturday, with four wahoo and a blackfin tuna. The wahoo ranged from 20-45 pounds while the blackfin was a nice one, at 20 pounds. Smith fished in 68-degree water in depths of 170-350 feet in the vicinity of the McMarlen ledge to catch his fish. Smith has received word of good catches of dolphin off the coast of Jacksonville, Fla., and expects them to join the offshore party at any time. “It should be a matter of a couple weeks when the dolphin really show up,” said Smith. “The next couple weeks should be good.” The wind has hampered the bottom fishing too, but when conditions permit, there are plenty of vermilion snapper, black sea bass, amberjack, grey triggerfish, white grunts and red porgy available. The annual Shallow-Water Grouper Spawning Season Closure is in effect through April 30. Red snapper are closed indefinitely in the South Atlantic region and must be released.
Look For: Bream, bass, crappie, catfish.
Comments: With the water temperature moving up to near the 65-degree mark, fishing has been excellent on local rivers. Catfish action has been superb both on rod and reel and bush hooks, with cut eel a prime bait. Channel, flathead and blue cats have been caught in good numbers, with a 58-pound flathead landed by Bradley Rabon the largest reported by Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. Crappie continue to be active, hitting small shiners and beetle spins. “They’re staged up in bedding areas in shallow water in the back of creeks or creek mouths,” said Stalvey. Bream are hitting crickets and worms in 3-4 feet of water. Bass are hitting top-water lures or Senkos rigged either Texas or wacky style.
Bass fishing partners Austin Winburn and Chandler Brown of Conway High School, along with captain Glenn Cribb, display their hardware after Winburn and Brown won the High School Division of the South Carolina BASS Junior Bassmasters and High School Championship last Saturday on Lake Murray. Submitted photo
What first seemed an inconsequential catch proved the winning fish for Conway duo
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
April 13, 2018 09:07 PM
Updated April 13, 2018 09:07 PM
Two weeks earlier, Austin Winburn and Chandler Brown had fished a spot on Lake Murray in the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Youth Bass Fishing Championship, but with little luck.
The duo weighed in only one bass, and finished well down the standings in the High School Division.
Last Saturday, Winburn and Brown, both freshmen competing for Conway High School, returned to Lake Murray to fish in the South Carolina BASS Junior Bassmasters and High School Championship.
When the day dawned, Winburn was determined to fish the same, unproductive spot, but for good reason.
“We had seen big fish cruising along the bank – they were really big,” said Winburn. “We had seen a few beds in there and made a point to go back there. In the DNR Tournament we went to the same spot and lost a five-pounder. It just broke my heart the rest of the day.”
With Glenn Cribb, a friend of Austin’s parents, Matt and Sherry Winburn, serving as captain, the duo returned to the same spot that Cribb described as “a pocket off the main lake.”
Winburn got the day started by catching a 3.93-pound bass, their biggest of the day, on a buzz bait from a canal that flows into the pocket.
“That’s the only fish we caught blind-casting,” said Winburn. “The other fish we caught were on beds and we sight-casted (to them).”
They used a 1/2-ounce jig with a brownish craw trailer, mimicking a crawfish, to catch bedding bass.
“Whatever gets in their bed, they get mad at it and eventually will bite it,” said Winburn.
After enduring rain showers throughout the day, the duo had a limit of five bass in the live well, and Winburn had caught all five. However, one was a small male in the 1.5-pound range.
Brown proceeded to come through when it counted most, landing a female in the 3.5-pound range very late in the day, enabling them to cull the small fish. The turn of events gave the duo an excellent five-fish limit.
“As soon as he caught that fish we left for the weigh-in,” said Winburn.
At the weigh-in, they discovered just how important Brown’s late catch was.
Winburn and Brown finished with an aggregate weight of 16.87 pounds and claimed the championship of the High School Division, finishing just ahead of Kyler McKie and Chad Champy of North Augusta at 16.71 pounds.
“If it wasn’t for (Brown’s catch) we wouldn’t have won,” said Winburn. “We probably would have finished in third place. I caught five fish but he caught that one that saved us.”
As freshmen, the duo are just getting started on their high school bass fishing careers and their first tournament win qualifies them for the national tournament this summer in Kentucky.
“I was really excited,” said Winburn. “It was pretty crazy.”
Jojo Phegley and Bryson Fittery of North Augusta won the Middle School Division with a five-bass limit of 14.62 pounds.
Several other local teams competed in the tournament.
Bennett Lawshe and TJ McKenzie of Waccamaw High School finished fourth with 14.96 pounds.
Jackson Denny and Bowman Davis of Carolina Forest High School finished 14th with 12.0 pounds.
Noah Jones and Manning Feldner, who finished second in the S.C. DNR Youth Bass Fishing Championship two weeks earlier, finished 28th with 6.61 pounds.
Blake Thompson and Gage Forston of Conway High School finished 29th with 6.26 pounds.
In the Middle School Division, Mason Hardee and Will Hardee-McGuirt of Conway Middle School finished 11th with 3.28 pounds.