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Report from 2 local fishing tournaments

April 29, 2017 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Report from 2 local fishing tournaments

image: men fishing
Crew of ‘Wasted Time’ finds timing perfect for prized 100-pound wahoo
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

A pair of spring fishing tournaments, one focusing offshore in the blue water and one inside Murrells Inlet, concluded last weekend.
S.C. Wahoo Series
Owner Wally Lee of Bishopville and Capt. Danny Carey of Myrtle Beach are breaking in Wasted Time this spring after Lee purchased the 2004 58-foot Buddy Davis convertible in December.
After a pair of initial voyages went awry due to engine and electronics trouble, the crew’s initial offshore trolling venture aboard the boat on March 29 was one to remember.

“The first two days we didn’t make it past the jetties, so the third time was the charm,” said Carey, who runs the boat out of Marlin Quay Marina in Murrells Inlet.
Competing in the South Carolina Wahoo Series, Wasted Time weighed in a 100.5-pound wahoo to take over the lead in the tournament that ran from Feb. 3 through April 22 with boats allowed to fish two days.

Wasted Time’s crew followed up their inaugural voyage with their second trip on April 11 and weighed in a 53-pounder for a 153.5-pound total to win the state-wide tournament over an outstanding field of 111 boats.
“Looking at the people fishing in that tournament, Jay Sconyers, Ned Campbell, Brant McMullan among others, it was a good tournament,” said Carey. “We felt really good how it turned out for us. That field was heavy.”
The Wasted Time crew found superb fishing on both days, trolling an area about eight miles north of the Georgetown Hole on both trips.
On the first day, the crew started by catching the winning tuna of the tournament, a 29-pound blackfin, and wahoo in the 40-to-50 pound class. Carey knew those were nice wahoo, but weren’t going to be tournament-winning fish. He switched to high-speed trolling.
“We caught two 50-pounders and then five minutes after that we caught the 100-pounder,” said Carey, who noted Jonathan Stanton of Murrells Inlet served as the angler on the fish.
“We knew 97 pounds was leading the tournament,” said Carey. “I’ve caught plenty of 80-pounders in my day and I knew it was more than that. The guess was mid-90s on the boat. It weighed 102 pounds at Seven Seas Seafood (in Murrells Inlet). We knew we had a contender.”
The next day, on official tournament scales at Toler’s Cove Marina in Mt. Pleasant, the fish weighed 100.5 pounds, and Wasted Time was in the lead.
The crew still needed a quality second wahoo, and they got it on April 11, weighing in the 53-pounder on a day where they caught 11 wahoo and a nice mix of tuna, dolphin and king mackerel.
Aside from winning the overall championship and catching the largest tuna, the crew also won awards for Senior Angler (Wally Lee) and Lady Angler (Katherine Carr). Carr was the angler on the 53-pounder. The crew won the top prize of $20,000 and earned over $60,000 for the win.
Rounding out the top five boats were Hay Fever (140.5 pounds), Vindicator (136.5), Gross Tonnage (134.2 pounds) and Team Yellowfin Only/OIFC (127.5).

image: man with flounder
Scott Wilkerson of Orrum, N.C., shows off the 5.89-pound flounder that won the 2017 Grand Strand Saltwater Anglers Flounder Tournament. Contributed photo

GSSWAA Flounder Tournament
Scott Wilkerson is a big fan of the Grand Strand Saltwater Anglers Flounder Tournament, and has fished the 16-year-old tournament the last eight years.
The resident of Orrum, N.C., in Robeson County, a short drive from Murrells Inlet, finished third in the event a few years ago, but has longed to catch the largest flounder in the tournament over the years.
Last Saturday, Wilkerson finally got it..
Wilkerson, fishing with his father, John Wilkerson, and 15-year-old son, Jonathan, caught and weighed in a 5.89-pound flounder to earn the first-prize of $1,500 for the top flounder weighed into the tournament.
“I’ve been chasing this for a long time and I’m glad to get it,” said Wilkerson. “I’m really happy with this, very proud.”
Wilkerson and company rented a house in Inlet Harbor for the tournament, allowing easy access to the inlet for the tournament. It’s become a yearly event.
“This tournament has been good to us,” said Wilkerson. “This year we had 15 in the house, adults and kids. I really like the fact that when we go, a lot of the guys that put this thing on, they recognize us. It’s just like a hometown deal, we feel at home going.”
It didn’t take the Wilkersons long to hook into their winning fish on the windy Saturday.
“I’ve been fishing Murrells Inlet for 12 years, and I’ve got a couple secret spots,” said Wilkerson.
The Wilkersons started off fishing one of those spots and quickly caught several throwbacks under South Carolina’s 14-inch minimum size limit while slow-trolling mud minnows on two-hook rigs, on a rising tide.
After catching multiple small fish, Wilkerson was surprised when he got the big bite.
“When I hooked up with it I had no idea it was going to be as big as it was,” said Wilkerson. “Everything on the boat was out of position and I did everything wrong to net him. I hit him with the net, I netted him tail first, but I was able to get the net under him. It was definitely a heart-pounding moment.”
After he had the doormat in the boat, Wilkerson had to take a break.
“After I netted him and realized what we had done, I let the boat drift into the marsh to gather my thoughts,” said Wilkerson. “We had only been fishing for a little while when I got him. To get something like that in a tournament in the first hour, it was like, ‘What did I just do?’ ”
Kenny Jacobs finished second with a 5.43-pound flounder to win $600. The top two fish both measured 23 inches. Haslin Rogers finished third with a 3.7-pound flounder.
Nathan Vereen won the Youth Division with a 1.97-pound flounder followed by Myra Leach (1.88 pounds) and Ben Purdue (1.70 pounds).
Mark Scott won the bluefish division with a 1.25-pounder. A special tagged flounder – caught, tagged and released before the tournament – was not caught by any of the 268 adult or six youth anglers fishing in the tournament. A total of 52 flounder and 10 bluefish were weighed in during the competition.

Rain, rain, go away

April 29, 2017 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Rain, rain, go away

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Captain Mike McDonald throws a cast net to catch menhaden to use for bait in Winyah Bay, Georgetown. JASON LEE jlee@thesunnews

April 28, 2017 10:11 AM
Fishing report: Recent deluge of rainfall making life tough for freshwater anglers
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

Look For: Flounder, red drum, spotted seatrout, black drum, bluefish, sheepshead.
Comments: It’s been a windy, wet week but conditions were improving heading into the weekend. With the water temperature in the lower 70s in local estuaries and warmer weather on the way, look for action to only improve for flounder and red drum, along with spotted seatrout and black drum. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service had a solid, quick trip at mid-week in the Winyah Bay vicinity, as he and his partner caught 18 trout all on artificial grubs. McDonald said the trout ranged from 12 inches to 3 pounds, but 15 measured at or above the minimum size limit of 14 inches, and the duo kept seven for dinner. McDonald noted a water temperature of 71 degrees and said bull sharks have already made the scene. On a recent trip, a fishing partner of McDonald’s caught a trout only to have a bull shark cut it off just behind the head at boatside. Tripp Sims of Perry’s Bait and Tackle says flounder catches have been generally slow with some exceptions this week in the inlet, but there are plenty of fish to be caught as the calendar turns to May. Sims says red drum action has been picking up with fish hitting blue crab chunks. Black drum are hitting shrimp or crab.
Look For: King mackerel, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, whiting, croaker, pompano, flounder, weakfish, black sea bass.

Comments: King mackerel made a strong showing a week ago with catches coming in from the Cherry Grove Pier and good numbers landed on bottom spots 10-15 miles offshore. This week? Not so much, thanks to a deluge of rain and windy weather resulting in murky water along the beach. “It’s been whatever the weather will give you,” said Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters in Murrells Inlet. “That rain front made them move around a little bit.” On Wednesday, Maples didn’t find kings cooperative on bottom spots in the 10-15 mile range but has found Spanish still available at Paradise Reef, located three miles east of Murrells Inlet. But while fishing for kings at Belky Bear, 12 miles off Murrells Inlet, Maples saw something surprising. “I have seen flying fish and a weedline at Belky Bear, and it’s really early,” said Maples. Also look for flounder, black sea bass and weakfish at the near-shore reefs, and expect to see spadefish show up at any time, if they aren’t already here. Spanish, blues and whiting are the best bet on Grand Strand piers, with Spanish showing up best around high tide. Also look for black drum, pompano and flounder off the piers, with kings roaming through when conditions are right. The ocean water temperature at Cherry Grove Pier was 72 degrees at the surface and 71 at the bottom Thursday at 6 p.m.

Look For: Dolphin, wahoo, blackfin tuna, black sea bass, vermilion snapper, triggerfish, porgy, grunts, amberjack.
Comments: It has’t been much of a week weather-wise for offshore trolling, and that trend doesn’t look much better for the weekend. The 9th annual Meatfish Slam, scheduled for Friday and Saturday out of Georgetown Landing Marina, has been postponed due to rough sea conditions. The make-up date is to be announced. Ed Keelin, general manager of Georgetown Landing, reports boats fishing to the south out of Charleston have had success with dolphin in the last few days. “They’ve caught the dolphin pretty good,” said Keelin. “They’re on their way.” Tis the season to catch a Carolina Slam, consisting of wahoo, dolphin and blackfin tuna for offshore trolling boats. The New Inlet Princess out of Murrells Inlet has had very good catches on recent bottom-fishing trips with anglers catching vermilion snapper, black sea bass, porgy, grunts, triggerfish and amberjack. At 12:01 a.m. Monday, the calendar turns to May and the annual Shallow-Water Grouper Spawning Season Closure will be over, meaning anglers will again be able to harvest grouper species such as gag, red and scamp. Red snapper cannot be harvested and must be released in the South Atlantic region.
Look For: Bream, catfish, bass, crappie.
Comments: An absolute deluge of rain fell early in the week in watersheds of the Great Pee Dee, Little Pee Dee, Waccamaw and Santee Rivers, so of course the rivers have a serious rise in them. “It’s been a little slow, and that rain has a lot to do with it,” said River Squires of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway “Everybody knows the river’s high and they’ve got to beat their boat up to get to the fish.” Squires does note that catfish and bass have been landed on the ICW especially from Bucksport to Big Bull Creek, down to Thoroughfare Creek and the Ricefields area. But for now, the bream are in the woods.

Flounder bill clears another hurdle toward becoming law

April 22, 2017 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Flounder bill clears another hurdle toward becoming law

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A bill to increase the minimum size limit and lower the daily bag limits for South Carolina’s flounder population was approved by a S.C. Senate sub-committee earlier this week. Submitted photo
April 21, 2017 5:50 PM

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

The bill with designs on increasing the minimum size limit and lowering the daily bag limits for South Carolina’s flounder population is another step closer to being approved by the S.C. General Assembly.
The bill was approved by a sub-committee of the Senate’s Fish, Game and Forestry Committee on Wednesday, and now will go to the full committee. If approved by the full committee, the bill would then go before the Senate.
The bill – which if put into law would up the flounder minimum size limit one inch to 15 inches and decrease the daily bag limits to 10 per person and 20 per boat – was approved by the S.C. House of Representatives in late February before moving to the Senate. South Carolina’s current flounder limits are 15 per person per day with a boat limit of 30 per day to go with a 14-inch minimum size limit.

“The Senate sub-committee asked a lot of questions on the merits of the bill,” said Charles Farmer, who has served as liaison between CCA SC and the S.C. General Assembly for the past 11 years. “It was voted in favor of by the subcommittee and will go to the full committee as early as next week. Right now we feel optimistic that the bill will be voted favorably out of the full committee.”
The bill received unanimous approval by the House in February in a 108-0 vote before heading to the Senate.

“You don’t get that (unanimous vote) very often,” said Farmer, who praised local legislators Sen. Stephen Goldfinch, R-Murrells Inlet and Rep. Lee Hewitt, R-Murrells Inlet for their work in garnering support for the bill.
“The last couple of years we’ve been really focused on flounder because flounder, red drum and seatrout are at the top of the list of fish inshore fishermen go after. They are a really important part of the marine ecosystem.”
Farmer has high hopes that, if the measure becomes law, the one-inch increase in size limit in particular will help the flounder population.
Female flounder first mature at 14 inches and begin substantially contributing to the spawn at 15 inches. Raising the minimum size is designed to increase the number of females that successfully migrate into the ocean to spawn in late fall and winter.
“What will be accomplished, it will in effect save about 29-30 percent of the population every year and allow the population to get to a more sustainable level,” said Farmer. “A 15-inch flounder has a much more productive spawn, much more prolific than a 14-inch flounder. It would have a positive impact on the population over the next 2-4 years.”
Farmer concluded a 36-year career as a marine biologist with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources prior to joining CCA SC in 2006, and has been active in fisheries-related legislation since.
“We try to be very reasonable in what we try to do and still accomplish the conservation effort,” said Farmer. “We try to be proactive, take small steps along the way instead of having to take real draconian measures further down the road.
“In this bill we think we’ve come up with regulations to protect our flounder population and let the fishermen still enjoy the species.”
GSSWA Flounder Tournament
The 16th annual Grand Strand Saltwater Anglers Flounder Tournament will take place Saturday in Murrells Inlet.
The weigh-in for the event will be held 3:30 to 5 p.m. in the parking lot adjacent to the Murrells Inlet public boat ramp.