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Crew lands massive amount of Wahoo

January 12, 2019 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Crew lands massive amount of Wahoo

Submitted photo
‘That’s massive’: How this North Carolina crew won inaugural Capt. Roger Wahoo Challenge

By Gregg Holshouser
January 11, 2019 08:12 PM,

The inaugural Capt. Roger Wahoo Challenge based out of Ocean Isle Fishing Center in Ocean Isle Beach, N.C., is in the books, and what a testament it was for the quality of wahoo fishing available during fall and winter off the Carolina coast.

Eligible fishing days were Nov. 23 through Dec. 31, 2018, with teams able to fish up to two days and weigh in four wahoo during that stretch.

The crew of Hammer Down out of Carolina Beach, N.C., led by Preston Davis, needed only one day to land their impressive aggregate of four wahoo weighing 288.45 pounds. Hammer Down weighed wahoo tipping the scales at 92.85, 74.45, 69.85 and 51.3 pounds to claim first place in the event.

“That’s massive,” said Capt. Brant McMullan, director of the event.

McMullan said Hammer Down fished an area north of The Steeples, about 85 miles due east of Ocean Isle Beach, trolling ballyhoo. The crew caught the four monster wahoo by 11 a.m. on Dec. 26 and earned $10,875 for the victory.

Brad Wood and crew aboard Ratz Azz finished second with a four-wahoo aggregate of 248.4 pounds, with the fish ranging from 55.9 to 66.25 pounds. Ratz Azz earned $6,525.

Jeff Martini and crew aboard Dirty Martini out of Little River was third with a four-wahoo aggregate of 234.45 pounds, earning $4,350.

Quote Boat was just behind Dirty Martini in fourth place by less than a pound with a 233.50-pound aggregate.

Perhaps most impressive of all was that 10 entries out of the field of 58 boats weighed in aggregates of 200 pounds or more, an average of more than 50 pounds per fish.

The largest wahoo was a 97-pounder weighed in by Doug Illing and the crew of Salty Fin.

McMullan is not surprised at the number of large wahoo and eye-popping weights accumulated in the tournament.

“One of the cool things is this tournament brings to light the incredible fishery we have,” said McMullan. “It’s really a growing fishery. We’re either getting more wahoo or people are getting more effective fishing for them. I think it’s a combination of both.”

Wahoo tournaments have become very popular along the Southeast coast with events such as the NE Florida Wahoo Shootout out of Jacksonville, Fla., the South Carolina Wahoo Series and Martini’s Hook-A-Hoo Rodeo out of Little River becoming established.

The Bahamas are also renowned for its wahoo fishery and has several tournaments targeting the species

“You look at the wahoo tournaments in The Bahamas, that’s thought to be the hotbed,” said McMullan, “but it’s evident on the Southeast coast there is a population of world-class wahoo – they just live here. It’s all the same fish. They just fluctuate up and down the coast.”

McMullan, who says high-quality wahoo fishing is available off the Carolina coast from August through April, hopes his tournament will join the annual list of wahoo tournaments in the Southeast.

“We had 58 boats and I’m hoping now that we’ve got a year behind us, it will have a chance to grow,” said McMullan.
Capt. Roger Legacy Fund

The tournament was established in honor of Capt. Roger Gales, who passed away Oct. 18 at the age of 48.

Gales was McMullan’s brother-in-law and was a fixture at the OIFC. His loved wahoo fishing, thus the tournament was established in his honor and to help his surviving family financially.

The tournament raised $16,950 to be donated to the Capt. Roger Legacy Fund, benefitting his family.

“There’s a very specific purpose for this event,” said McMullan. “Their house payments are being directly drafted from this account.”

For more information on the tournament visit

Red Drum Still Active

January 11, 2019 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Red Drum Still Active

Grand Strand Fishing Report: Seatrout bite slows but red drum still active in cool water

By Gregg Holshouser

January 10, 2019 05:58 PM,

Updated January 10, 2019 05:58 PM
Cubby Weaver of Coastal Montessori Charter School shows off a 4.58-pound red drum caught during the Student Angler Tournament Trail out of Georgetown. Weaver won the Middle School Redfish Division.
Cubby Weaver of Coastal Montessori Charter School shows off a 4.58-pound red drum caught during the Student Angler Tournament Trail out of Georgetown. Weaver won the Middle School Redfish Division.

Look For: Spotted seatrout, red drum, black drum, flounder, sheepshead.

Comments: Well, as of Thursday, the run of warm weather in late December and early January came to a halt thanks to the current cold front. The resulting quick drop in water temperature figures to slow the spotted seatrout bite some, but not completely shut it down. Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters in Little River reported a water temperature of 56-58 degrees at midweek, just before the front moved in. “That’s pretty warm for this time of year,” Kelly said. Before the front, the trout bite continued to be very good, with Kelly catching most of his fish on Berkeley Gulp shrimp (New Penny). “I think you could throw anything out there, Vudu, Trout Trick,” said Kelly. The captain has also had success this week floating mud minnows to catch red drum on a falling tide along the flats. Even if the cold snap shuts down the trout bite, the drum will still be available. “We’re going to catch reds all winter,” said Kelly. “It seems like the trout stop biting but (red drum) should bite regardless of the cold.”

Look For: Black sea bass, sheepshead, black drum, flounder, weakfish, whiting, croaker.

Comments: The Cherry Grove Pier reports catches of whiting and croaker this week, but the fish have been very small. One keeper, 16-inch flounder was landed. With colder weather and water now in the offing, look for sheepshead to make a real showing on artificial reefs such as the Paradise, Ron McManus and Jim Caudle reefs within several miles of the beach. Black drum and tautog may be mixed in with the sheepshead. Weakfish and flounder are also a possibility on the reefs. Black sea bass are also plentiful on the reefs, but anglers should be aware of the 13-inch minimum size limit. The ocean water temperature Thursday morning at the Cherry Grove Pier was still 56 degrees but trending down, with a chilly weekend in store.

Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, king mackerel, dolphin, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grunts, porgy, amberjack, grouper.

Comments: The cold front with the strong west-northwest wind pushed any pretty water near the break well offshore, replacing it with cooler, green water, which is not conducive for holding wahoo. When conditions improve, the wahoo will return. “If you find the right water you’ll get the bite,” said Capt. Buddy Smith of Underdog Charters. As Smith pointed out, however, the bottom, or reef fish aren’t going anywhere. Look for vermilion snapper, black sea bass, grey triggerfish, amberjack, red porgy and grunts, especially in depths of 90 feet and beyond. The annual shallow-water grouper spawning season closure went into effect on Jan. 1 and lasts through the month of April. Red snapper are off-limits indefinitely in the South Atlantic Region and must be released.

Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.

Comments: What shape are the local rivers in? “High as a Georgia pine,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. Since Hurricane Florence’s floodwaters hit the eastern Carolinas in early September, it’s been a mess on local rivers. “It’s been so high for so long,” said Stalvey. “The water’s running so hard, it’s wicked. I don’t want any rain for four months. Fishing in ponds is all I’ve been hearing.”

Spotted Sea Trout Survive Last Year’s Freeze

January 6, 2019 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Spotted Sea Trout Survive Last Year’s Freeze

Gregg HolshouserFor The Sun News

A year after a rare extreme freeze, here’s how trout are shaping up along Strand in 2019

By Gregg Holshouser
January 05, 2019 05:42 PM,

A splendid day of fishing proved that South Carolina’s population of spotted seatrout survived the freeze from a year earlier in fine fashion. Now that’s something worth celebrating as 2019 begins.

What a difference a year makes.

On New Year’s Eve of 2017, the area was in the early stages of an unusually extreme cold stretch that dropped the water temperature in local estuaries to dangerously cold levels.

For eight straight days culminating in early January, 2018, the low temperature dropped below freezing, all but one in the 20s or upper teens, with highs mainly in the 30s — cold stuff for coastal South Carolina.

On the morning of Jan. 9, 2018, Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions observed a water temperature of 40 degrees in Murrells Inlet, and fear of a die-off of spotted seatrout along the Carolina coast was running rampant.

Fast-forward to four days ago, New Year’s Eve, 2018. The day dawned foggy but warm, in the mid-50s, and calm.

With a forecast high in the upper 60s, these were fantastic conditions for early winter, and fishing buddy Charlie Nash and I just had to go check on the trout.

With only a whisper of a southeast wind, Nash pulled his jon boat out of Inlet Harbor and into the main creek of Murrells Inlet.

Nash cruised into a winding series of creeks in the middle of the inlet amid the fog, slowed the Yamaha outboard to an idle and then deployed his new favorite lure on Shimano bait-cast reels.

The amazing shrimp imitation, the Vudu Rattling Shrimp, was the artificial of choice for Nash, and we began slowly weaving our way through the creeks with very little boat traffic and near dead-low tide.

Per Nash’s instruction, we dropped the shrimp way back, being sure the lures were bumping the bottom. The presentation was completed with hard jigging action on the rod, then letting the shrimp ease back, and repeat continuously.

Within minutes, the catching started. Plenty of spotted seatrout in the 11-13 inch range slammed the attractive shrimp look-alike, and over the next hour-plus we caught several each including a few double-hookups.

The numbers of trout were great but the size wasn’t, as we put one keeper just over the 14-inch minimum size limit in the cooler out of more than 15 fish caught. A bonus flounder just over the 15-inch minimum size limit ambushed a Vudu and found its way into the cooler.

Nash decided to make a move to the inlet’s jetties in search of bigger trout, but there the fog — and the boat traffic — was thicker, and the catches slower.

In less than an hour of weaving among the boats inside and outside of the jetties, we caught one trout just under 14 inches.

Early in the afternoon, we decided to head back to the solitude of the creeks.

By mid-afternoon, the fog lifted, save for a few wisps just above the marsh grass along the creek banks. The sun came out and it warmed up even further, nearing 70 degrees.

By now, the tide was nearing high, the creeks were filled with the pretty clear water typical of winter time and bigger trout showed up. All was right with the world, with yet another new year only hours away.

Over the next hour, we caught several trout above 14 inches, and kept three more in the 16-17 inch range. Over an hour of daylight remained, but, with New Year’s Eve obligations to keep, we left the fish biting.

The splendid day proved that South Carolina’s population of spotted seatrout survived the freeze from a year earlier in fine fashion. Now that’s something worth celebrating.
Vudu Shrimp

Rest assured the Vudu shrimp is an effective and long-lasting lure. Nash and I both caught easily over 15 trout each, and the Vudu lures were just as good as new — despite those canine teeth — when we called it a day and headed back toward Inlet Harbor.

The Vudu shrimp features a Kevlar nylon weave through the soft plastic to give it durability, and has a swimming motion that perfectly matches a live shrimp.

*Grand Strand Boat Show: The 2019 Grand Strand Boat and Sportsman Expo is underway at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.

Show hours are Saturday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, $5 for children under 12. Children under three are admitted free of charge.

The event features a combination of boat displays, fishing and boating-related vendors and a varied schedule of seminars conducted by local experts.

A variety of boats will be on display from dealers from Charleston to Wilmington. Every type of boat from kayaks and jon boats for saltwater marsh areas to huge offshore center consoles will be on hand for attendees to check out.

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