Gary Pope, Jr., of Georgetown won the non-boater division of the B.A.S.S. Nation Eastern Regional last weekend at the Carroll Ashmore Campbell Marine Complex in Georgetown. Submitted photo
How the comforts of home helped Georgetown’s Pope pull off major fishing win
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
June 29, 2018 06:32 PM
Georgetown resident Gary Pope Jr. enjoyed all the comforts of home in the B.A.S.S. Nation Eastern Regional last week out of the Carroll Ashmore Campbell Marine Complex on the Sampit River, right down to his home-made lures.
Pope took full advantage of fishing his hometown waters by winning the non-boater division of the regional tournament and securing a spot in the upcoming B.A.S.S. Nation Championship.
The national championship will be held in November, with the exact date and location to be announced on Monday.
Seventeen states and the Canadian province of Ontario were represented in the Eastern Regional, with nearly 400 anglers competing.
The top boater and the top non-boater from each state earned a spot in the national championship.
Winning the non-boater division and reaching the national championship was a tremendous accomplishment for Pope, who is employed at International Paper in Georgetown, but extra special on his home turf, or waters.
“What was so sweet about it, was I had a lot of hometown support,” said Pope, who is a member of the Conway Bassmasters. “Every day at work this week people have been congratulating me. I can’t tell you how many Facebook friend requests I’ve had from all over the country.
“It’s been humbling and exciting to have all that support. I tried to make Georgetown proud, International Paper proud, and the bass club.”
The non-boaters hitch a ride each day of fishing with an angler from the boater division. The non-boaters can fish from the back deck of the boat only and can weigh in only three bass per day.
The boaters fish the bow of the boat and are allowed to weigh in the full limit of five bass per day.
Pope weighed in the maximum of three bass all three days of fishing and wound up with a winning aggregate weight of 17 pounds, 6 ounces for his nine bass.
Mark Hogan of Milford, Del., won the boater division after weighing in his limit of five bass each day for a total of 15 fish, and an aggregate of 31-15.
Pope fished the Pee Dee, Waccamaw, Little Pee Dee and Sampit rivers, but it was his first day on the Pee Dee that put him in position for the win.
Pope’s three bass on opening day weighed 10-4 and gave him an early cushion. He was fishing with his own homemade 4 1/2-inch craw and Senko-type baits, plus he caught one of the fish on a KVD Square Bill Crankbait.
Pope was fishing with boater division anglers from Ontario, Maine and Florida, and they were willing to take advice from their local passenger
“Living here so long, I knew the key spots at the right time with the right bait,” said Pope. “It’s all about timing and tide.”
On the final day of fishing, Pope was paired with Dave Turner, who wound up finishing second in the boater division.
“(Turner) thanked me after it was over,” said Pope.
Another local angler, Stacey Proctor of Conway, finished second behind Pope in the non-boater division with an aggregate of 15-13.
Pope will be competing in his second B.A.S.S. Nation Championship. He also won a regional tournament at Paducah, Ky., in 2004 to qualify for the 2005 national championship.
Chris Jones of Conway, also a member of the Conway Bassmasters, was the top South Carolina angler in the boater division and also qualified for the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship.
Jones finished eighth overall in the boater division with a full 15-fish aggregate of 23-12.
Jones fished the Black River, the Pee Dee and the Little Pee Dee and caught fish consistently throughout the days, even in hot conditions with the heat index near or above 100 degrees all three days.
“Even in the middle of the day you have a lot of shade with all the natural creeks and shadeline along the rivers,” said Jones. “The fish feed on the current and anywhere they have shade.”
A Stanley Ribbit Frog was Jones’ most successful lure.
Two more Conway anglers, Gregg Fogner and Hayes Hudson, finished 10th and 11th, respectively in the boater division.
Visit bassmaster.com/news/bass-nation-eastern-regional-standings-0 for complete standings.
S.C. Governor’s Cup Billfish Series
After Mister Pete won the first two tournaments in the 2018 South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series, Reel Passion captured the Carolina Billfish Classic (CBC) out of Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina in Mt. Pleasant last weekend.
Reel Passion, owned by Billy Ingram with Capt. Gary Richardson at the helm, took advantage of a prolific sailfish bite to accumulate 1,700 points for the win.
With Ingram and Richardson leading the way, Reel Passion won the overall series championship in 2011 and 2015.
Richardson uses only natural baits in his trolling spread and naked ballyhoo were the ticket as the crew released seven sails and one white marlin.
Sportin’ Life released two blue marlin and two sailfish for 1,600 points to finish second followed by Grander with two blues and one sail for 1,400 points.
Mister Pete remains in the overall lead in the series with 4,275 points with two tournaments remaining. Sportin’ Life is a close second with 4,075 points followed by Artemis (3,275), Grander (3,275) and Full Pull (2,475).
Richardson and Ingram chose to fish the first two of three fishing days in the CBC, and the captain worked the 300 line in 450 feet of water, 51 miles southeast of Charleston both days.
“There wasn’t any bait, we just got a bite or two, stuck it out there and then got a bite an hour,” said Richardson.
On the first day, Reel Passion released three sailfish plus caught eight dolphin. On the second day, the crew released four sails and the white marlin. All eight billfish hit naked ballyhoo.
Up until the CBC, it had been a tough-luck series for the Reel Passion crew this year. Case in point, a missed opportunity in the Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament.
“We fought a (blue marlin) in Georgetown for six hours and lost it – (an) 800-pounder plus,” said Richardson. “We had it close up jumping one time, as close as 150 feet.
“It’s mostly luck in these things.”
Go to www.govcup.dnr.sc.gov for full results from the Carolina Billfish Classic and the series.
Gary Pope, Jr., of Georgetown and Stacey Proctor of Conway hug after the finished first and second in the non-boater division of the B.A.S.S. Nation Eastern Regional last weekend at the Carroll Ashmore Campbell Marine Complex in Georgetown. Submitted photo
Hannah Nash shows off a bull red drum she caught and released this week in the Surfside Beach vicinity. Submitted photo
Grand Stand Fishing Report: Action remains fit for kings along the beach and offshore
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
June 28, 2018 08:24 PM
Look For: Flounder, black drum, red drum, spotted seatrout, sheepshead, bluefish, ladyfish, tarpon.
Comments: Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters has had a ball entertaining attendees of the Palmetto Kid’s Fishing Camp again this week. “Fishing’s been pretty good,” said Kelly. “Every day they’re catching fish and they’re stoked about it.” Kelly has put the youngsters on flounder, black drum, red drum and spotted seatrout while fishing the ICW, Dunn Sound and Bonaparte Creek. “We’ve been consistently catching flounder, small black drum, red drum and a bunch of little trout in the 12-13 inch range,” said Kelly. The trout, black drum and reds have been taking live shrimp under popping corks while live mullet or mud minnows worked on 1/4-ounce jig heads have produced flounder. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown produced several red drum and black drum on a Tuesday trip in the Winyah Bay vicinity. McDonald also says “there have been a few tripletail around.” The Poor Man’s Tarpon, or ladyfish, are also assaulting baits in local estuaries. With the calendar about to turn to July and McDonald reporting a water temperature of 82 degrees, look for tarpon to start showing up in estuaries from Winyah Bay and south.
Look For: King mackerel, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, spadefish, black sea bass, flounder, weakfish, whiting, croaker, pompano, black drum.
Comments: It’s been another hot king stretch on the Cherry Grove Pier. With pretty water still entrenched along the beach, Ronnie Goodwin of the pier reports seven kings ranging in size from 14 to 30 pounds were caught on Wednesday, then four were reportedly landed on Thursday. Ann Ball of North Myrtle Beach landed the largest, a 30-pound, 1-ounce king. A tarpon estimated to be in the 80-pound range was also hooked and broken off by an angler on the Cherry Grove Pier this week. Several other species have also been caught off local piers this week including Spanish mackerel, bluefish, whiting, croaker, spadefish, sheepshead, black drum and red drum. Kings aren’t just being caught along the beach. Slow-troll dead cigar minnows or live menhaden around a live-bottom area in 30-65 feet of water and you’re likely to find kings. “The kings have been just like, nuts,” said Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters. A sailfish was reportedly caught and released at Belky Bear, located 12 miles east of Murrells Inlet. There’s plenty of action on near-shore artificial reefs such as Paradise Reef, Jim Caudle Reef and Ron McManus Reef too. Maples reports flounder, spadefish, black drum and black sea bass are all active on the reefs, along with Spanish mackerel, the occasional cobia and king mackerel, plus plenty of sharks also around.
Look For: Dolphin, blackfin tuna, wahoo, blue marlin, sailfish, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grunts, porgy, amberjack, grouper.
Comments: Dave Christian of Marlin Quay Marina reports there’s plenty of action from a variety of species in the sprawling Parking Lot area including king mackerel, plus a few dolphin and even blackfin tuna. Capt. Alex Hrycak of Carolina Fly produced a blackfin in 80 feet of water. Hit the bottom there and you’ll find a variety of species such as vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, white grunts and amberjack. Christian notes that grouper are hanging on ledges in 120-180 feet of water, and plenty of red snapper are being caught and subsequently released in about 100 feet of water. Red snapper cannot be harvested and must be released in the South Atlantic region.
Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.
Comments: “All your river levels are great and they’re catching the fool out of the fish,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. In particular, the bream action is hot, Stalvey reports, with fish hitting crickets and worms in 2-4 feet of water. “The bream are unbelievable right now,” said Stalvey. “Grab a pole, grab the cricket cage, put it on a hook and throw it in the water. That’s really about all it takes.” Stalvey also notes catfish catches have been especially good on bush hooks. Eels are a prime bait for large blues and flatheads. “We’ve had a lot of 40-50 pounders on eels come by the last few weeks,” said Stalvey. As for bass, Stalvey says Bang-O-Lures on top and Senkos on the bottom are currently the go-to baits.
Hunter Moore and Glenn Krofchick show off their winning 34.75-pound king mackerel aboard Lil’ John in the Jolly Mon King Classic last weekend out of Ocean Isle Fishing Center. Submitted photo
See what crew and fish won the Jolly Mon King Classic in Ocean Isle
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
June 22, 2018 10:59 PM
After a few frantic minutes with a green king mackerel on the gaff, the crew of Lil’ John can now breathe easy.
Owner Glenn Krofchick of New Bern, N.C., and his two crew members aboard Lil’ John did subdue a feisty 34.75-pound king that wound up the winner in the annual Jolly Mon King Classic out of Ocean Isle Fishing Center in Ocean Isle Beach, N.C.
Krofchick along with Hunter Moore of New Bern and Inman Coleman of Augusta, Ga., spent the majority of the two days leading up to the tournament searching for bait and wound up securing only a meager number of sizable bluefish and smallish pogeys (menhaden).
The trio declared last Saturday as their fishing day, as the large field of 242 fishing teams could fish one day, Saturday or Sunday.
The crew aboard Lil’ John, a 31-foot Contender powered by twin 250 Yamahas, arrived at a live bottom area in the vicinity of Frying Pan Shoals in 90 feet of water just after the lines-in time of 7 a.m.
Upon arrival, Krofchick discovered he had lost most of the pogeys due to a loose wire on the live well switch.
The crew wound up using a few pogeys that survived along with the bluefish and frozen ribbonfish.
There was plenty of action to start, but not from the species they were looking for.
“We caught five barracuda, one close to 40 pounds and four amberjack, three of them 50-75 pounds, and one shark,” said Krofchick.
Keeping lines in the water was a challenge, especially in choppy seas with a steady 15-knot breeze.
“We worked on it and managed to keep the lines out while we were fighting them,” said Krofchick.
Later, with bait running low, their diligence paid off when they got a bite on the next-to-last bluefish.
“It was somewhat of a fire drill because it bit very slow,” said Krofchick. “We thought, ‘That’s not a king.’ ”
The fish was running slow, not typical of the blazing run of a smoker king but it suddenly took off, then changed direction and headed to the boat.
With Moore serving as the angler, the still-green king swam by the bow, and Coleman took a shot at it with a 12-foot gaff – and connected.
“It nearly pulled Inman in,” said Krofchick. “I grabbed him by the pants because he didn’t let go of that gaff.
“I grabbed the gaff with him and we pulled the fish in the boat. We were jumping for joy, raising Cain. We knew it was a good fish, but we didn’t know if it was a winner. We thought it’d make top three or top five.”
At the weigh-in at the OIFC, Lil’ John took over atop the leader board with the 34.75-pounder. But there was another day of fishing to go.
“Waiting Sunday, that was kind of nerve-wracking,” said Krofchick. “We had to watch 35 boats weigh in, waiting to see if they were going to pull a big one out. There were some teams that made me sweat.”
But in the end, the Lil’ John crew was the winner and won over $37,000 for their catch. Undertaker of Supply, N.C., was second with a 33.15-pounder followed by Reel Blessed of Sneads Ferry, N.C., in third with a 32.70-pounder. For full results, visit www.OIFC.com.
Krofchick is a graduate of the King Mackerel School conducted by Capt. Brant McMullan, of the McMullan family that owns and operates the OIFC and stages the Jolly Mon King Classic.
“I went to one of Brant’s king mackerel schools – he probably didn’t know he was going to be competing against one of his students,” said Krofchick. “I’ve been fishing down here hard the last five years. To get one that size is a major accomplishment to me.”
Krofchick has been very active on the king mackerel tournament circuits, competing in 18 tournaments in 2017 including a second-place finish in the 2017 SKA Nationals at Biloxi, Miss.
The Jolly Mon win automatically qualifies Krofchick and the Lil’ John team for the Kingfish Cup Championship, set for Nov. 1-4 at Ocracoke Island, N.C. For more information on the Kingfish Cup, which is staged by the McMullans, visit www.KingfishCup.com.
Inman Coleman, Hunter Moore and Glenn Krofchick of Lil’ John won the Jolly Mon King Classic last weekend out of Ocean Isle Fishing Center. Submitted photo