Sailfish action was hot during the Edisto Invitational Billfish Tournament, the final leg of the 30th annual South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series. South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series
Mister Pete finishes off torrid Governor’s Cup run in record-breaking fashion
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
July 27, 2018 04:53 PM
Entering the final day of the final tournament in the 30th annual South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series, Capt. Alan Neiford of Mister Pete knew the crew’s season could go in any number of directions.
Mister Pete had won the first two tournaments in the series at Bohicket and Georgetown, but led the overall series by only 400 points entering the final day of fishing in the Edisto Invitational Billfish Tournament.
The crew was 800 points off the pace of Syked Out (1,600 points) to win the tournament, staged at The Marina at Edisto Beach.
With one fishing day left to accumulate points for releasing billfish, predominately sailfish, Neiford knew the crew could win the tournament, win the series, win both or win nothing.
“We figured if we could win the tournament, we could win the series,” said Neiford. “We had our goal of winning the tournament, but you’re competing against guys that have a lot of talent and you know they won’t be missing very many (billfish).”
A prolific sailfish bite was on, which was reflected in Neiford’s trolling tactics on both days.
“We switched to dredge fishing (and) pulling small natural baits, and that helps out for the sailfish,” said Neiford. “We call it dink fishing, using naked ballyhoo. It looks really natural, a straight ballyhoo without a skirt. We slowed the boat down, put the dredges out, a more finesse style of fishing.”
Mister Pete released four sailfish plus missed one blue marlin and a sail on the first day of fishing to accumulate 800 points.
Neiford returned to the same spot off Edisto Beach in 300 feet of water for the day of reckoning.
Neiford found a temperature break with a scattered weed line, which was productive.
“It was a small scattered weed line and the fish were just hanging around it,” said Neiford.
Boy, were they.
The deck was alive all day on Mister Pete, as the crew released four more sailfish and a blue marlin, plus missed another sail. Sen. Chip Campsen was the angler on the blue marlin.
“If you can go out and have 10 sail bites (in two days of fishing) out of Charleston that’s about as good as it normally gets,” said Neiford. “The bite is as good as it gets.”
Mister Pete wound up with 1,400 points on the day, finishing with a winning total of 2,200 points for the tournament.
Campsen’s blue marlin, worth 600 points for the release, was critical in winning the tournament, as Syked Out finished just 200 points back in second place with 2,000.
“On the final day, Chip Campsen was on board and he was fortunate enough to catch the blue,” said Neiford. “That gave us some cushion.”
Yes, Neiford was correct, winning the tournament did mean winning the 30th annual edition of the series. And they did it in record-breaking fashion.
Mister Pete won three of the five legs of the series and accumulated 7,875 points, well ahead of Sportin’ Life with 6,275. Syked Out was third with 5,175, Artemis fourth with 4,275 and Bad Becky fifth with 4,075.
Mister Pete’s point total set a new Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series record, breaking the previous record of 7,475 set by Gryphon in 2017.
“We certainly had a really good season, a good crew,” said Neiford. “Everything came together great.”
Other crew members were owners Bob and Rusty McClam, mates George Campsen and J. Rhode, Pat Andrews and Terry Caulder.
The results of the series will not be official until approved by the Governor’s Cup’s Advisory Board of Directors in a Sept. 7 meeting.
The 36 boats competing in the Edisto tournament released 99 sailfish and seven blue marlin.
The 99 sailfish releases were the second-highest in a single Governor’s Cup tournament, only behind the 138 sails released during the 2009 Megadock.
The only blue marlin weighed in during the series, a 484.4-pounder, was brought to the scales last Saturday at Edisto by Anticipation.
The crew of Mister Pete celebrates winning the Edisto Invitational Billfish Tournament, and the 30th annual South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series. South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series
Will Duke of Marietta, Ga., shows off a bull red drum he caught and released Tuesday while fishing in Winyah Bay with Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service. Courtesy of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service
Grand Strand Fishing Report: Bites still coming for those who are braving the rain
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
July 26, 2018 05:22 PM
Look For: Flounder, black drum, red drum, spotted seatrout, sheepshead, ladyfish, bluefish, tarpon.
Comments: Huge or small, there was good action this week for Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown. McDonald has produced huge bull red drum well over the slot limit of 15-23 inches and spotted seatrout under the 14-inch minimum this week, along with a good mess of flounder, all while fishing finger mullet on the bottom for flounder. The bull reds were a pleasant surprise on light tackle. “Those reds have moved up on the flats,” said McDonald. McDonald noted there is an abundance of freshwater moving down into the bay, plus plenty of tarpon are on hand. Reds and flounder hitting finger mullet have been the catch of the week for Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters in Little River. “For as much rain as we’ve had fishing’s still pretty good,” said Kelly. Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions in Murrells Inlet has also caught “some nice keeper flounder” over the 15-inch minimum size limit along with slot red drum on finger mullet this week. “I’ve seen a lot of schools of bigger mullet this week, so there’s bound to be tarpon around,” said Connolly.
Look For: King mackerel, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, spadefish, black sea bass, flounder, weakfish, whiting, croaker, pompano, black drum.
Comments: If not rainy weather, then the forecast of rain has kept boats at dock or inside the inlets over the last week to 10 days. “No one’s been fishing for a week,” said Dave Christian of Marlin Quay Marina. “Before that, there were kings at Belky Bear and Myrtle Beach Rocks.” A variety of species are hanging around near-shore artificial reefs such as Jim Caudle Reef, Ron McManus Memorial Reef and Paradise Reef including spadefish, black sea bass, flounder, and weakfish. Also on the reefs, be ready for Spanish mackerel, king mackerel and cobia to make a showing, with plenty of sharks in the vicinity. Water clarity hasn’t been the best along the beach this week, but Michael Wallace of Cherry Grove Pier reports anglers have caught whiting, croaker, pompano, spadefish, flounder and a few keeper black drum. The ocean water temperature Thursday afternoon was 86 degrees.
Look For: Dolphin, blackfin tuna, wahoo, blue marlin, sailfish, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grunts, porgy, amberjack, grouper.
Comments: Mate Wade Fehlig of Underdog out of Murrells Inlet reports trips have been few and far between this week, but on his last trip a week ago the boat produced dolphin at the Parking Lot in 80-100 feet of water along with king mackerel and barracuda. Christian reports that bottom fishing is excellent for vermilion snapper, triggerfish and red porgy, with numerous scamp available, in 100-120 feet of water. Red snapper are also being caught in good numbers but must be released in the South Atlantic region. Recreational anglers will be able to harvest red snapper for six days in August (Aug. 10-12, 17-19) with a limit of one per person per day with no size limit. After Aug. 19, the red snapper fishery will close once again.
Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.
Comments: There’s been plenty of rainfall this week, which has kept the anglers off the rivers.”The water levels are still good – the Little Pee Dee is still dry,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. “Everything’s still great but there just ain’t nobody going. Cricket sales are way down this week.” Still, crickets and worms are producing bream in 2-4 feet of water and catfish are hitting eels and bream. For bass, Stalvey suggests using Texas-rigged worms and hollow body frogs. Bass action was excellent last weekend for the CATT Waccamaw River tournament. Corey Singleton and Jesse Hopkins won the tournament with a five-bass limit of 20.35 pounds.
Brewer Cannon shows off a flounder while Capt. Mark Allison of Palmetto Kids Fishing Camp looks on. Captain Smiley Fishing Charters
How a local sea captain’s efforts are producing responsible fishermen of tomorrow
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
July 20, 2018 05:45 PM Updated July 20, 2018 05:55 PM
Capt. Patrick Kelly’s summer camp vision has come to fruition.
A year ago, Kelly, owner/operator of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters in Little River, had the idea of founding a camp designed to teach youngsters the intricacies of boating and fishing, and respecting the environment along the Carolina coast.
So last summer Kelly invited about a dozen youngsters on a fishing trip that was essentially a test run for his fishing camp concept.
“We took that group of kids out to see how we’d do it, then we organized it this winter and put it together,” said Kelly. “It’s definitely in the building phase – there’s been an extreme amount of interest in this.”
This summer, Kelly’s Palmetto Kids Fishing Camp for ages 9 to 17 was born, based out of Cricket Cove Marina.
Kelly and his group of captains, all who have completed South Carolina Department of Natural Resources’ Fishing Instructor certification, finished the fifth of six sessions of the camp this week.
“I love it,” said Kelly. “I’ve been in the charter business for 18 years and this has by far been the highlight of my fishing charter business. I thought it was about taking people to catch as many fish as possible. I think taking these kids out has been the most humbling and rewarding experience to me. I can’t wait to do it again next summer.”
Kelly still has one session of camp left this summer, set for August 7-10.
Each session consists of four-hour trips each morning for four straight days (7-11 a.m. Tuesday through Friday).
Kelly’s classroom is the saltwater estuaries around Little River and southern Brunswick County, N.C., including areas such as the Intracoastal Waterway, Dunn Sound and Tubbs Inlet.
One of the main focuses is to teach camp attendees the intricacies of catching fish such as red drum, spotted seatrout, black drum and flounder.
Campers learn much more, though, as they receive expert instruction on subjects such as fish identification, knot tying, basic boating rules and safety and catching bait with a cast net.
In the age where it can be difficult to pry youngsters away from smart phones, computers or video games, Kelly’s camp offers an excellent diversion.
“I took a kid last week, his father said he had a bad addiction to video games and it was hard to get him to do anything,” said Kelly. “He caught his first fish at the camp – he caught a bunch of fish. Now he’s hooked on fishing.
“I think we can make a difference in getting kids off the computers, off the video games and get them outside.”
The marine environment on the entire globe is being threatened by trash in the water – especially the massive amount of plastic that makes its way into the waterways.
Disposing of trash in an ethical manner and helping clean up the waterways are key points Kelly and his cohorts drive home with the youngsters.
“We try to pick up trash on every day of camp but on the last day, we take an extra 45 minutes and pick up trash,” said Kelly. “We tell them, you’ve got to give to get. It’s funny, it seems like on the last day we have the best fishing. You take care of (the environment), it’ll take care of you.”
For more information on the Palmetto Kids Fishing Camp visit www.captainsmileyfishingcharters.com, email email@example.com or call 843-361-7445.
S.C. Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series
The fifth and final stop in the 2018 series is under way with the Edisto Invitational Billfish Tournament out of The Marina at Edisto Beach.
The tournament opened on Thursday with all 36 boats declaring a fishing day. The field had a fantastic day with sailfish, releasing 64 with two blue marlin also released.
Only two of the 36 boats, DayMaker and El Tejano, opted to fish during what wound up being a deluge of rain on Friday. The remaining 34 boats will fish their second day on Saturday, the final day of fishing in the tournament and the series.
Syked Out released eight sailfish for 1600 points on Thursday and holds the lead entering Saturday’s final day of fishing. Lady S and Reel Passion are tied for second place with 1,000 points.
The series is finishing with a flurry, with tournaments on back-to-back weekends.
A week ago, Georgetown Landing Marina entry Rascal held the lead with 1,100 points entering the final day of fishing last Saturday in the Megadock Billfishing Tournament at City Marina in Charleston.
But, while Rascal added one sailfish release to finish with 1,300 points, the crew of Man Cave released four sailfish to earn the victory with 1,800 points.
Sara Gressette, wife of Man Cave owner/captain Billy Gressette, was the superstar angler of the tournament, serving as the angler on all seven billfish (one blue marlin, six sailfish) the crew released.
Two boats will be in a battle on the final day to earn the title of top boat in the overall series standings. In unofficial point totals, Mister Pete enters the final day with 6,475 points ahead of Sportin’ Life with 6,075.