Capt. Patrick Kelly of North Myrtle Beach, owner/operator of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters, prepares to release a red drum on a recent fishing trip. New limits on red drum appear imminent, pending approval of Gov. Henry McMaster. Submitted photo
New limits on red drum fishing are about to become law in S.C. See what they are
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
May 10, 2018 05:48 PM
Updated May 10, 2018 06:55 PM
Changes to fishing limits on South Carolina’s red drum population have been approved by the state legislature and only need the signature of Gov. Henry McMaster to become law.
The legislature has approved a bill that will reduce the daily bag limit from three fish per person per day to two, and introduce a first-time boat limit of six red drum per day in the Palmetto State.
“It’s going to the governor’s desk and we don’t anticipate any problem with the governor signing the legislation,” said Scott Whitaker, Executive Director of Coastal Conservation Association South Carolina, which supported the changes.
inRead invented by Teads
The current size slot limit of 15 to 23 inches for red drum would remain unchanged.
There were two versions of the bill under consideration, one in the House, which also had designs on a ban on gigging red drum, and one in the Senate.
The Senate version passed, and gigging of red drum will continue to be legal in South Carolina waters.
Red drum are widely considered the most popular – and most highly targeted – species found in South Carolinas inlets, bays, sounds and rivers.
Capt. Patrick Kelly, owner/operator of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters in North Myrtle Beach, is pleased to see some pressure taken off such an important and easily accessible species. “I think it’s excellent, I’m really excited about it,” said Kelly.
Kelly specializes in fishing for estuary species such as red drum, spotted seatrout, flounder and black drum, and says there is support for the changes among his co-horts.
“The guides in this area I talk to regularly are behind it,” said Kelly. “I don’t think it will hurt the business end of it, this only makes things better for the future.”
RedDrum Legislation details
*Reduce the daily bag limit from three per person to two person
*Institute a boat limit of six per day
*The current slot limit of 15 to 23 inches remains
*Gigging of reddrum would remain legal, except in the months of December, January and February
Cullen Gerace and his dad, Peter Gerace show off the 4.1-pound flounder the nine-year-old caught to win the Grand Strand Saltwater Anglers Association Spring Flounder Tournament last Saturday. Submitted photo
Here’s who all won during busy fishing weekend in Georgetown
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
May 04, 2018 06:12 PM
Updated May 04, 2018 07:32 PM
Georgetown County was a real hot spot for tournament fishing last Saturday, with three major events on tap.
The tournaments targeted fish species spanning the entire saltwater spectrum, from flounder and redfish in the inlets and bays to wahoo, tuna and dolphin on the offshore ledges.
Without further ado, here are the details, in alphabetical order:
Georgetown Meatfish Slam
Now that’s what you call cutting it close.
When 2 p.m. rolled around last Saturday afternoon, co-owners Lyle Floyd and Brian Ridgeway and the crew aboard Game Plan had boated a dolphin and a nice blackfin tuna while trolling ballyhoo with Bluewater Candy skirts just north of the Georgetown Hole.
Missing the final component of a meatfish slam – wahoo – they went to a new, well, game plan with an hour left before lines-in time of 3 p.m. in the 10th annual Georgetown Meatfish Slam.
“We started pulling high-speed lures for the last hour and we hooked up with (two wahoo) at 2:50 p.m.,” said Floyd. “It was probably two minutes before (3 p.m.) when they both hit the deck.”
Ridgeway, of Sumter, was the angler on the largest of the two wahoo, with Mikey Bozeman, also of Sumter, on the smaller fish. Larry Keeling of Sumter was the fourth member of the crew.
Knowing that the first boat to weigh in all three targeted species (wahoo, tuna, dolphin) stood to win a bonus $1,000, Floyd said they high-tailed it toward Georgetown in the 32-foot Contender as soon as the two wahoo were on ice.
“We ran in at 54-55 mph, and made it from (north of) the Georgetown Hole to the (Winyah Bay) jetties in an hour and five minutes,” said Floyd.
Game Plan didn’t make the weigh-in in time to earn the $1,000, as that honor went to the crew of Georgi Girl, of Florence.
The Game Plan crew was pleased when they did weigh in, as their 36.7-pound wahoo, 19.9-pound tuna and 9.5-pound dolphin equated to a 66.1-pound aggregate, good enough to win first prize of $5,000.
“I knew we had a decent chance since we had all three fish, but I didn’t think it was going to be quite enough,” said Floyd. “We were really happy with it.”
Georgi Girl won 2nd Place Aggregate with 31.8 pounds.
Game Plan also won the Big Dog Aggregate and 1st Place Tuna. Yard Man won 1st Place Dolphin with a 19.6-pounder that also earned top Lady Angler honors for angler Hayden Kelly. Beach House weighed in a 41.4-pounder to win 1st Place Wahoo honors.
GSSWA Spring Flounder Tournament
To put it bluntly, the small fry caught the big fish in the 17th annual Grand Strand Saltwater Anglers tournament in Murrells Inlet.
Nine-year-old Cullen Gerace bested all the anglers in the adult division with a 4.1-pound flounder to win the $3,500 first prize.
Cullen is a veteran angler, considering he’s a third-grader at Coastal Montessori Charter School in Pawleys Island, and he even caught the winning fish on a grub.
Two years removed from winning top junior angler honors in the tournament, Cullen made the decision to move up a division this year.
“I said ‘You can either fish for $300 and a fishing rod you’ve already got or you can fish with the big boys for $1,500,’ ” recalled his Dad, Peter Gerace. “He said ‘I want to fish with the big boys.’ ”
After a late start, the father-son duo were fishing on the north end of the inlet when Cullen hooked up with the eventual winning fish on a Z-Man (New Penny) grub a little before 9:30 a.m.
“When (Cullen) hooked the big one it swam right to the boat,” said Peter Gerace. “Then the fish came up and I realized how big it was. I missed it the first time, then it took off and it went bananas. I thought we were going to lose it.”
But Peter Gerace did manage to net the fish, and they were thrilled to see the size of it.
“It was very thick,” recalled Peter Gerace. “When I netted it and dropped the net with the fish in the boat I said ‘How does it feel to win?’ He said ‘Awesome!’ I told him how proud of him I was and he said ‘Thanks Daddy, you’re my favorite thing. And that’s the biggest flounder I’ve ever caught.’
“I told him ‘Well, you picked the right day to catch your biggest one!’ ”
After finishing out the day, the verdict at the weigh-in was confirmed – the third-grader had indeed beaten all the big boys and won the tournament. He topped 183 other adult anglers, with a total of 27 flounder weighed in the division.
“I’m real proud of him,” said Peter Gerace. “He’s been practicing, keeping at it. He’s going to be a good fisherman. He does it all himself.”
George Smart finished second with a 3.40-pound flounder good for $600. Tommy Collins was third with a 2.85-pounder, Bentley Lachicotte fourth with a 2.40-pounder and John Harrington and Charles Gamber Jr. finished tied for fifth with 2.15-pound fish.
Camden Lee won the Youth Division and $150 with a 2.10-pound flounder. Ava Heise was second with a 2.0-pounder and Kinsley Glover third with a 1.9-pounder.
Josh Winesett won the Bluefish Division with a 2.25-pounder.
IFA Redfish Tour
A pair of Horry County anglers ventured to neighboring Georgetown County to win the IFA Redfish Tour stop out of the Carroll Ashemore Campbell Marine Complex on Saturday.
Steve Fennell of North Myrtle Beach and Bobby Marks of Conway weighed in a two-redfish aggregate of 11.57 pounds, but it was the larger of the pair of fish that had the crowd buzzing at the weigh-in on the banks of the Sampit River.
Each two-man team was allowed to weigh in two red drum measuring within South Carolina’s slot limit of 15 to 23 inches.
The duo’s lunker measured 22 inches but weighed an astounding 7.04 pounds. Fennell and Marks paired the tournament lunker with a nice 4.53-pounder for their winning aggregate.
Fennell was pleased with the conditions, along with the fishing which enabled them to finish atop the field of 55 boats.
“It was outstanding,” said Fennell. “There were light winds in the morning but picked up during the day. We caught good fish all day and we were able to cull.”
According to the IFA, Fennell and Marks caught their fish on Berkeley Gulp baits fishing the Sampit River.
The duo won a Ranger RB190 powered by a 90-horsepower four-stroke Mercury valued at over $26,000.
The hometown duo of Brian Goude and Derek Tayor, both of Georgetown, ventured south to fish Bulls Bay and fished floated Berkely Gulp baits to catch reds weighing 5.41 and 4.75 pounds. Their aggregate of 10.16 pounds was good for second place and $2,131 in winnings.
The lowcountry duo of Marvin Benford, of Summerville, and Rob Cowen, of John’s Island, fished Bulls Bay with Berkely Gulp baits and finished third with an 8.80-pound aggregate.
The tournament was the first of two in the Redfish Tour’s Atlantic Division, with both staged in Georgetown. The second event is scheduled for the Campbell Marine Complex on Sept. 22.
The Atlantic Division is one of five on the Redfish Tour. The tour championship will be held Oct. 26-27 in Hopedale, La.
Steve Fennell of North Myrtle Beach and Bobby Marks of Conway show off their winning red drum in the IFA Redfish Tour’s Atlantic Division stop in Georgetown last Saturday. IFA Redfish Tour
Marc Treurniet (left) and Nick Evans of Southport, N.C., show off a 49.75-pound king mackerel in 2017 at Southport Marina. The kings are being caught in large numbers off the Grand Strand coast. Courtesy of U.S. Open King Mackerel Tournament
King mackerel schools are “skyrocketing, going nuts” in offshore waters
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
May 03, 2018 06:36 PM
Updated May 04, 2018 06:14 PM
Look For: Flounder, red drum, black drum, spotted seatrout, bluefish, sheepshead.
Comments: Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions hit Paradise Reef early Wednesday on slick seas to play with the Spanish, blues and weakfish but then came inside Murrells Inlet to finish the trip. Connolly’s crew catch eight flounder with one keeper over the 15-inch minimum size limit and two reds including one keeper in the 15-23 inch slot and a chunky 25-incher that was released. On the north end, Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters caught flounder, blues and reds in the Sunset Beach vicinity. Kelly landed the flounder on a 1/4 ounce jig head tipped with mud minnows, got the reds to hit mud minnows under popping corks and caught the blues on top-water lures and Berkeley Gulp minnows. Early this week, Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service took a charter trip to North Inlet and produced two reds and five black drum, but that didn’t tell the whole story. “We lost a lot of fish,” said McDonald with a chuckle.
Look For: Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, bluefish, weakfish, flounder, whiting, pompano, croaker.
Comments: May has arrived, and so have the mackerel – Spanish and king. With optimal southerly breezes blowing all week, there has been pretty water along the beach and in the near-shore waters and the catches show it. Kings have shown up nicely at Belky Bear, a little over 10 miles east of Murrells Inlet and figure to make a showing on the beach anytime now. Spanish catches have been superb at the near-shore reefs such as Paradise and Jim Caudle. On a Thursday trip, Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters enjoyed a little of it all, catching Spanish at Paradise, kings at Belky Bear and weakfish at Pawleys. Maples was impressed with the king action in particular. “There was a school out there, probably an acre wide, skyrocketing, going nuts,” said Maples. “I couldn’t get more than two lines in the water.” Maples slow-trolled cigar minnows to catch a limit of six in less than an hour. Keep an eye out for migrating cobia, which should move into the near-shore waters any time now. The action is also good for Spanish and bluefish off Grand Strand piers, with whiting and croaker also being landed. Look for a push of pompano to show, plus mid May is prime time to land a king off the piers. Wick Fisher of Cherry Grove Pier reported a water temperature of 64 degrees at midday Thursday.
Look For: Blackfin tuna, wahoo, dolphin, barracuda, yellowfin tuna, grouper, amberjack, black sea bass, vermilion snapper, red porgy, triggerfish, white grunts.
Comments: Trolling hit a bit of a lull at midweek, but expect excellent catches of dolphin and blackfin tuna, with a few wahoo in the weeks to come. Dolphin have been found in good numbers, but well offshore this week. There have been occasional catches of yellowfin tuna, especially in northern areas along the break, from the Steeples and north. May marks the end of the shallow-water spawning closure for grouper, so species such as gag, red and scamp grouper are once again available for harvest. Bottom fishing is excellent for black sea bass, vermilion snapper, triggerfish and porgy, especially on bottom spots deeper than 100 feet. Red snapper are regularly inhabiting offshore reefs off South Carolina, but must be released indefinitely in the South Atlantic Region.
Look For: Bream, catfish, bass, crappie.
Comments: “The water’s high everywhere, but fishing is on point,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. Stalvey called bream fishing for bluegills and shellcracker “phenomenal” with fish hitting crickets and worms in 3-4 feet of water. Stalvey says bass action is good with Senkos and top-water lures working well. Stacey Proctor of Conway won the big fish in the weekly bass tournament out of Conway Marina with her 6.6-pounder. Stalvey called catfish action “very, very good” on bush hooks and by rod-and-reel. Fresh cut eel and live bream work well for the catfish.