Capt. Jay Sconyers, Grant Stadler and Amy Armstrong Stadler show off a red snapper in the 20-pound range caught with Aces Up Fishing during the 2017 red snapper season last November. Submitted photo
Red snapper season set. Here’s the limited time frame when you can fish for them
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
July 27, 2018 05:09 PM
Yes, Capt. Justin Witten is glad to see a season for red snapper in the South Atlantic Region in 2018, but he simply would like to see it open for more days to account for inevitable rough seas.
On Monday NOAA Fisheries announced the red snapper season for recreational anglers will open for six days on back-to-back August weekends, Aug. 10-12 and 17-19.
“I wish they’d have it open more days than six,” Witten, owner/operator of Ambush Sport Fishing out of Murrells Inlet, said. “If the weather’s nice, that’s great but they opened it for nine days last year and there was one questionable weather day and all the others were not fishable.”
In 2017, the red snapper season was held in November, and Witten is hopeful more tranquil seas will be in the offing this year during the Dog Days of August.
For recreational anglers, red snapper can be harvested on the six days in federal waters (beyond three miles offshore) with a daily bag limit of one fish per person per day and no minimum size limit.
For the commercial fishing sector, the season opened on Thursday and will close on Dec. 31, unless the commercial annual catch limit (ACL) is met or projected to be met sooner. The commercial limit per trip is 75 pounds (gutted weight).
Red snapper have been caught and released commonly on offshore bottom spots off the South Carolina coast this year, an ongoing trend in recent years.
“You can find them pretty much anywhere out there on ledges or live bottom in 80-120 feet (of water),” said Witten. “It doesn’t really matter. I usually use a Carolina rig with live bait to target bigger fish, but I’ve caught them on everything including cut bait on a two-hook rig.”
During the red snapper season, marine resource agency personnel from North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida will be conducting surveys at various locations and collecting samples from fishermen. Anglers are encouraged to provide carcasses for data collection.
Fishermen are also urged to help minimize the number of released red snapper and help improve the likelihood that released fish will survive.
If a boat’s limit of red snapper is caught, anglers are urged to move to a different area to avoid unnecessary catch and release of more red snapper.
Anglers are also advised to use single hook rigs – since the bag limit is 1 per person, as this potentially reduces the number of red snapper caught on one drop.
The use of descending devices is encouraged when releasing red snapper suffering from barotrauma.
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.
The MyFishCount app is available via smart phones.
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.