Brunson Miller, Dennis Lee Smith and Chase Limehouse show off the 7.25-pound, 26.5-inch flounder that won the 15th annual Rotary Flounder Tournament last Saturday at Crazy Sister Marina. Submitted photo
How timing proved impeccable and fruitful for these Murrells Inlet fishing buddies
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
June 08, 2018 05:48 PM
Any time is a good time to catch a doormat, but the timing was absolutely impeccable for a trio of Murrells Inlet fishing buddies competing in the 2018 Murrells Inlet Rotary Flounder Tournament.
The trio of Chase Limehouse, Brunson Miller and Dennis Lee Smith weighed in a 7.25-pound, 26.5-inch flounder to win the 15th annual tournament and about $1,600 in prize money last Saturday at Crazy Sister Marina.
The trio started their day by securing six dozen mud minnows from Baisch Boys Bait and Tackle in Murrells Inlet, and then headed out on Limehouse’s 16-foot High Tide.
Smith noted they were trolling the mud minnows on “double-hook, old-timer rigs, with a few adjustments.”
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They were working a very popular spot on the north end of the inlet, when fate intervened and they realized they had hooked up with a huge flounder – a doormat – that was now at boatside.
“The first thought was ‘Get it in the boat,’ ” said Smith. “The next reaction was ‘You probably won’t ever see another one like that fishing with a rod and reel.’ It was once in a lifetime, especially fishing in a tournament. It was about as good a timing as you can get.”
The trio are frequent competitors in the two major flounder tournaments in the inlet – the Rotary event and the Grand Strand Saltwater Anglers event in April.
“We’ve been fishing in them for six years now and we’re usually right there at the top,” said Smith. “We’ve come close in a lot of them. It was nice to win one.”
Bill Blakely finished second with a three-fish aggregate of 8.14 pounds, followed by Chris Stanley with a 3.61-pounder.
Michael Stutts was fourth with a 3.4-pounder and Coleman Bess fifth with a 3.27-pounder.
Ava Heise was the top Lady Angler with a 2.28-pounder. Ethan Schamuse was the top Youth Angler with a 1.95-pounder, Pheonix Brunko was second with a 1.66-pounder followed by Breanna Williford with a 1.25-pounder.
The proceeds from the tournament benefit community service projects supported by the Murrells Inlet Rotary, which hosts the tournament.
CCA Oyster Recycling Project
The local Waccamaw Chapter of Coastal Conservation Association South Carolina will continue an ongoing oyster reef enhancement project in Murrells Inlet on Tuesday.
The group of volunteers will place oyster shell on a site adjacent to Crazy Sister Marina in an area that sees heavy boat traffic. This is the fourth time the group has placed used oyster shell on the site.
Volunteers are encouraged to help with the latest oyster reef enhancement event. The group will meet Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. at the Murrells Inlet public boat ramp, with the event lasting until approximately 3:30 p.m.
For more information on assisting with the event, contact Chris Hawley at 843-455-0371.
The project is a continuation of a cooperative program between CCA SC and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources’ SCORE (South Carolina Oyster Restoration and Enhancement) program.
Through 2017, the partnership has resulted in nearly 36,000 bushels of oyster shells used to construct or enhance 52 oyster reef sites in South Carolina estuary waters.
The new reefs are composed of primarily recycled South Carolina oyster shell, which is provided by restaurants and private citizens, mainly at shell drop-off sites located along the coast and inland as well.
The shell is natural material for spat, or oyster larvae, to attach to, thus creating new oysters. The reefs are created at strategic locations where new oyster beds are needed along the shoreline, to prevent erosion and create new oyster reef habitat.
Frank Hammond shows off a 24-pound, 7-ounce king mackerel he caught this week off Cherry Grove Pier. Cherry Grove Pier Submitted
Grand Strand Fishing Report: Near-shore action fit for kings
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
Updated June 07, 2018 07:43 PM
Look For: Black drum, red drum, flounder, spotted seatrout, sheepshead, bluefish.
Comments: A mix of flounder, black drum, red drum and spotted seatrout are available in local estuaries, along with plenty of bluefish. Mud minnows work well for flounder and red drum while fresh cut shrimp is the ticket for black drum. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown has had a so-so week in the Winyah Bay vicinity. “It’s been nothing to write home about,” said McDonald. “We’ve caught a few reds here and there, most on cut bait, a few on live bait.” The highlight of the week for McDonald was a 45-inch, 30-pound red drum battled by a customer in Winyah Bay. The fish, of course, was carefully released by McDonald, who noted a water temperature reading of 81 degrees Thursday the bay. McDonald also has noticed plenty of freshwater flowing down into the bay. “There’s a lot of freshwater coming down in Santees and in the bay,” said McDonald. “They’ve gotten a lot of rain upstate.”
Look For: King mackerel, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, spadefish, black sea bass, flounder, weakfish, whiting, croaker, pompano, black drum.
Comments: Fishing from the beach to 12 miles offshore has been fit for kings this week – king mackerel, that is. “It’s been insane, we’ve been catching them left and right,” said Jo Jo Groves of Apache Pier, where five kings, including a 24-pounder, were landed on Thursday. Apache Pier also produced four kings on Wednesday and one on Tuesday. On the north end, four kings were caught from Cherry Grove Pier on Wednesday, including a 36-pounder, plus a 15-pounder was landed from the pier on Thursday. With clear water and plentiful menhaden and bluefish along the beach, conditions have, obviously, been perfect for near-shore king action. By boat, action has been good for kings on mid-range reefs such as Belky Bear and The Jungle. Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters in Murrells Inlet had a super king trip on Thursday to Belky Bear, 12 miles east of Murrells Inlet. Maples’ crew caught 20 kings and kept 10, ranging in size from 26 inches to 15 pounds. “It was a really good bite today,” said Maples. “I slow-trolled cigar minnows. There was so much bait (on the beach) I (netted) menhaden and was tossing them out there in my spread too.” Maples reports the near-shore reefs are producing spadefish, black drum, flounder and black sea bass from the structure, with kings, Spanish, cobia and sharks also roaming the vicinity. Grand Strand piers are also producing scattered catches of whiting, spots, croaker, black drum, red drum, spadefish, Spanish and blues. The ocean water temperature at Cherry Grove Pier on Wednesday was 78 degrees.
Look For: Dolphin, blackfin tuna, wahoo, blue marlin, sailfish, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grunts, porgy, amberjack, grouper.
Comments: Don’t be mistaken, kings can also be found further out, on bottom spots in depths of 50 feet on out to the break, too. Look for kings and scattered dolphin in areas such as the Parking Lot. Dolphin, blackfin tuna and a few wahoo can be found near the break in areas such as the Winyah Scarp, Blackjack Hole and the Georgetown Hole. Find the bait and blue water of the Gulf Stream, and blue marlin and sailfish join the party. As usual, bottom fishing is excellent, especially with calm sea conditions this week, making for pleasant rides to the offshore fishing grounds. Look for vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, porgy, grunts, grouper and amberjack. Scamp are the most common grouper species being caught. Red snapper cannot be harvested and must be released in the South Atlantic region.
Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.
Comments: There is still quite a rise in the rivers, but fishing continues to be very good for bream, catfish and bass. The Waccamaw at Conway was at 9.12 feet Thursday at 4:15 p.m. while the Little Pee Dee at Galivants Ferry was at 6.84 feet at 4 p.m. Look for bream on the edges, hitting crickets and worms in 1-4 feet of water. Catfish action has been excellent with fish taking fresh cut eel, fresh cut mullet and live bream best. Bass action is best early and late in the day with Bang-O-Lures, buzz baits and Senkos among productive lures.
A crew member aboard Mister Pete watches a blue marlin breach the surface during last weekend’s 51st annual Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament out of Georgetown Landing Marina. Mister Pete released three blue marlin in two days of fishing to win tournament, which was the second of the 2018 South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series. Courtesy of Mister Pete crew
This crew is off to a dominating start in S.C. Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
June 01, 2018 05:28 PM
It’s two down and three to go for Bob and Rusty McClam’s crew aboard Mister Pete in the 2018 South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series.
The McClam brothers of Chapin, owners of the 58-foot C&L with Capt. Alan Neiford at the helm, have dominated the 30th annual Governor’s Cup series thus far, winning the series opener at Bohicket Marina on May 12 and then the 51st annual Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament last weekend out of Georgetown Landing Marina.
After releasing four blue marlin in the Bohicket tournament, Mister Pete followed it up by releasing three blue marlin to capture the prestigious Georgetown tournament, the oldest billfish tournament in South Carolina, last Saturday.
The series totals through two events reveals just how dominating Mister Pete has been. Mister Pete leads with 4,250 points, followed by Sportin’ Life with 2,450 and Full Pull with 2,250.
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“We’re extremely pleased with the results,” said Neiford.
Glazed and Syked Out both released a blue marlin and a white marlin to finish with 900 points, but Glazed reached its point total first to claim second place.
Glazed, owned by Miles Herring of Murrells Inlet, released its blue marlin Saturday at 10:45 a.m. to get to 900 points, before Syked Out released a white marlin a little over an hour later, at 11:50 a.m., to reach 900.
Blue marlin releases earn 600 points, white marlin 300 and sailfish 200 in Governor’s Cup events.
Mister Pete released one blue marlin on the first day of fishing (May 24), then released two on the second day (May 25) to compile 1,800 points. Entering the third and final day of fishing, Mister Pete held a 1,200-point lead over numerous boats tied for second place with 600 points.
From there, the Mister Pete crew, which also included Terry Caulder, mates George Campsen and J. Rhode, had to sit on the hill and wait to see if the lead would hold up while 26 boats of the field of 58 fished Saturday.
“The suspense, it was terrible,” said Neiford. “We definitely thought there were more than enough people out there with ability to catch us. There’s a lot of talent out there. We were on pins and needles until 3 p.m. (lines out time), but I have a couple happy bosses.”
The 58 boats combined to release 17 blue marlin, 11 sailfish, two white marlin and one spearfish. No blue marlin were brought to the dock.
On the first day of fishing, Neiford headed 80 miles south-southeast of Georgetown to fish an area near the South Carolina Memorial Reef.
Bob McClam was the angler on the lone blue marlin the crew caught and released that day, as the fish hit a deep bait.
The decisive stretch of the tournament came the next day when the Mister Pete crew had three blue marlin encounters in a little over two hours.
They released one blue marlin at 11:10 a.m. and, just after missing the second fish, released another blue at 1:27 p.m.
After fishing well to the south a day earlier, Neiford had changed it up and was working an area just south of the Georgetown Hole, about 50 miles south-southeast of Georgetown.
“In the morning we couldn’t find the water we were looking for,” said Neiford. “We headed north to intercept the good water and we came across the bait that was holding fish. All three (blues) came off the pods of bait.”
Caulder was the angler on the first blue while Sen. Chip Campsen was the angler on the second. Both fish hit trolling plugs.
With a good head start on the field, the Mister Pete crew is in it for the duration with plans to fish all five events in the series, which was inaugurated three decades ago as the brainchild of the late Gov. Carroll Campbell.
“We can’t say how happy we are with the Governor’s Cup and all the sponsors that make all this happen,” said Neiford. “The Georgetown Tournament was great.”
The third event in the series is the Carolina Billfish Classic, scheduled for June 20-23 out of the Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina in Mount Pleasant.
The award winners in the Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament:
Outstanding Billfish Boat – 1st Place: Mister Pete.
Outstanding Billfish Boat – 2nd Place: Glazed.
Outstanding Billfish Boat – 3rd Place: Syked Out.
Outstanding Billfish Conservationist: Mister Pete.
Outstanding Dolphin: Brian McCaffree, Game Changer, 41.3 pounds.
Outstanding Tuna: Carlyle Willis, Christy II, 15.8 pounds.
Outstanding Wahoo: Ryan McFaden, Daymaker, 27.2 pounds.
Outstanding Youth Angler – 1st Place: Chandler Griffin, Gryphon, one blue marlin release.
Outstanding Youth Angler – 2nd Place: Rance Jennings, Micabe, one sailfish release.
Outstanding Youth Angler – 3rd Place: Iain Rhye, Grander, 29.4-pound dolphin.
Outstanding Female Angler – 1st Place: Holly McAlhany, Syked Out, one blue marlin and one sailfish released.
Outstanding Female Angler – 2nd Place: Eugenie Barrow, Legal Holiday, one blue marlin and one sailfish released.
Outstanding Female Angler – 3rd Place: Kathy Baxley, El Tejano, one blue marlin released.