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Trolling during the eclipse

August 26, 2017 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Trolling during the eclipse

image: man fishing during eclipse
Jay Blakeley of Andrews fights a 40-pound wahoo during totality of Monday’s eclipse at the Georgetown Hole, located 48 miles south-southeast of Georgetown, aboard Margaritaville, a 2870 Pursuit. Submitted photo
Wahoo bite epic on eclipse excursion for Andrews crew

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

August 25, 2017 5:16 PM

Fishing partners Gregg Jenkins and Jay Blakeley, both of Andrews, decided to go offshore during the much ballyhooed eclipse on Monday for some trolling action targeting wahoo.

Jenkins and Blakeley, co-owners of Margaritaville, a 2870 Pursuit, figured this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“We had talked about it the last two months that it would be a neat experience to be wahoo fishing for the eclipse,” said Jenkins.

The only decision to be made was where to fish. They took a look at the eclipse’s path of totality and there was no doubt where they were headed.

“We fish the (Winyah) Scarp as much as the (Georgetown) Hole, but it was going over the Georgetown Hole,” said Jenkins. “The Hole was just dead center of the path and that made our decision for us.”

Monday dawned overcast with a few showers in the area, but the seas were easily conducive for a run to the vicinity of the Georgetown Hole, located about 48 miles south-southeast of the Winyah Bay jetties.

Joined by Will Morris of Andrews and Rose Foster of Myrtle Beach, the foursome headed for The Hole the morning of the eclipse.

They were greeted by super seas and fabulous fishing.

“There was a little cloud cover, it was overcast but the ocean was gorgeous,” said Jenkins, who is the owner of Chigger Grove Quail Preserve in Andrews. “We had good action all day long. It was great.”

The crew trolled large ballyhoo with Ilander and Sea Witch skirts and wound up with a super catch of five wahoo, three kings and a blackfin tuna. The fish were on the large side, with the wahoo all weighing between 30 and 40 pounds and the kings between 20 and 30.

“For late-summer fishing, that was just a great day,” said Jenkins.

The catch of the day, the largest wahoo estimated to weigh 40 pounds, came at the perfect time.

“We hooked him about 10 minutes before it turned dark,” said Jenkins. “As soon as it went dark good, the wahoo was probably 30 yards behind the boat. We had to turn on the spreader lights (to light up the deck) to see to gaff him.

“By the time we gaffed him and got him in the boat it was starting to get light again. The whole timing of the thing, it was just amazing.”

Blakeley was the angler and Jenkins gaffed the fish.

After a few days to reflect on the excursion, Jenkins was left literally shaking his head.

“Just to get the weather to cooperate for our size boat and to be able to go out there and catch the biggest fish right at the eclipse,” said Jenkins. “Everything just fell into place just perfect.”

Eclipse brings visitors, fishing helps to entertain them.

August 25, 2017 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Eclipse brings visitors, fishing helps to entertain them.

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Richard Laurent, owner of Black River Outdoors, frees a fish hooked on a line in the Waccamaw River outside of Conway in April. Janet Blackmon Morgan
Total eclipse brought thousands to the area. Anglers? They’re thankful as well

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

August 24, 2017 7:24 PM

Look For: Spotted seatrout, red drum, black drum, flounder, sheepshead, bluefish, tarpon.

Comments: Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service had an epic eclipse trip on Monday, as his crew caught 26 spotted seatrout, 12 ladyfish and two red drum in the Winyah Bay area. McDonald used artificial grubs and live finger mullet, with the majority of the trout measuring between 16 and 19 inches. “They were nice trout, real nice trout compared to what we’ve been catching,” said McDonald, who noted a water temperature of 85 degrees. Tarpon action has picked up nicely this week in Winyah Bay and points to the south. Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters reports one of his co-captains, Capt. Chris Ossmann, found good red drum action at the Little River jetties on Thursday. Ossmann’s crew caught several reds ranging in size from inside the slot limit (15 to 23 inches) to a 36-incher, with the fish hitting live finger mullet. “Typically at the end of August the reds start biting at the inlet, so it looks like they’re doing their thing,” said Kelly. On a Wednesday trip, Kelly had average results while fishing in dingy water thanks to recent rains. Kelly’s crew caught three flounder, two trout and two ladyfish, with most fish hitting Berkeley Gulp baits, including New Penny Shrimp and White Jerk Shad.

Look For: Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, bluefish, black sea bass, spadefish, weakfish, flounder, whiting, croaker, pompano, black drum, sheepshead and red drum.

Comments: Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters went on a family outing to experience the eclipse on Monday. The Maples crew started at Belky Bear where they caught numerous smaller king mackerel. They then found solid action with bigger kings further out at the Inshore Hole, located about 25 miles south-southeast of Murrells Inlet. They finished the day at the Georgetown Reef where they caught spadefish and enjoyed the total eclipse. “The clouds cleared and it got nice for the eclipse,” said Jeff Maples. “It was awesome.” Catches of Spanish mackerel have picked up significantly this week near the beach, particularly off Grand Strand piers such as Cherry Grove Pier, Apache Pier and The Pier at Garden City. Also look for flounder, black drum, whiting, croaker and pompano off the piers. Ronnie Goodwin of the Cherry Grove Pier reported a surface ocean water temperature of 85 degrees at 4:45 p.m. Thursday.

Look For: Blackfin tuna, wahoo, dolphin, sailfish, vermilion snapper, triggerfish, white grunts, red porgy, black sea bass, grouper, amberjack.

Comments: Per the norm for August, wahoo action is very good along the break in areas such as the Winyah Scarp and Georgetown Hole. Trolling large ballyhoo with skirts such as Sea Witch and Ilander are producing catches from the mackerel family including wahoo and king mackerel. There also have been scattered catches of blackfin tuna and dolphin. Kings can be found anywhere from depths of 50 feet on out to the break. As usual bottom fishing in depths of 80-120 feet is very good with vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grouper, porgy, grunts and amberjack topping the list of species. Cobia cannot be harvested in 2017 in South Carolina waters (to three miles offshore) or federal waters (beyond three miles) and must be released. Red snapper must be released in the South Atlantic region.

Look For: Bream, catfish, bass, crappie.

Comments: After a deluge of rain overnight Wednesday, the Waccamaw River had a definite rise to it and was up to 9.42 feet at 3 p.m. Thursday in Conway. The Little Pee Dee at Galivants Ferry was up to 5.74 feet, also at 3 p.m. Thursday, and was forecast to rise slightly. The Waccamaw’s come up a lot and is steady rising,” said Ronald ‘Catfish’ Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. “I’ve still had limits (of bream) brought by today. If you’re bream fishing with crickets you might as well fish on the tree line along that edge and it should work very good.” Stalvey set bush hooks on the Waccamaw near Conway Wednesday night and caught five catfish out of 12 hooks with the fish ranging from 10 to 20 pounds. “That was on the Waccamaw (Wednesday) night when the water was rising and it didn’t affect the fish.” Stalvey reports bass is action is very good, but with a catch. “The fish are there but finding the big ones is few and far between,” said Stalvey.

Results from the Georgetown Wahoo Challenge

August 19, 2017 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Results from the Georgetown Wahoo Challenge

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Mike Kuiken displays a dolphin at the stern of Bruno during the Georgetown Wahoo Challenge last weekend out of Georgetown Landing Marina. Submitted photo
‘A pretty fine little area’: Crew’s trek to secret spot leads to big win in fishing tournament

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

August 18, 2017 5:53 PM

It’s not easy to find a secret spot in this day and age, even in the massive area in the Atlantic Ocean along the Continental Shelf that local boats troll for big-game species such as dolphin, wahoo and tuna.

When the 21 boats fishing in the 2017 Georgetown Wahoo Challenge out of Georgetown Landing Marina zoomed offshore last weekend, one boat locked in a more northerly heading.

Capt. Todd Bruner headed Bruno, a 42-foot Bertram, to a spot north of the Winyah Scarp while the majority of the field of boats fished well to the south.

Bruner was fishing out of his homeport of Georgetown Landing Marina, where he operates Bruno Fishing Charters specializing in offshore trolling.

Two months earlier Bruner and crew won the Meatfish Slam, also out of Georgetown Landing, and were looking for a repeat.

Bruner fished the same spot – north of the Winyah Scarp in 163 feet of water – that produced the winning catch in the Meatfish Slam.

First place in the Wahoo Challenge was based on a two-wahoo aggregate weight, and the Bruno crew landed six on the day along with two dolphin and one blackfin tuna.

Yes, the little spot to the north was very productive again. Bruno’s top two wahoo weighed 64.5 and 47.4 pounds back at Georgetown Landing for two-fish aggregate of 111.9 pounds to easily win the tournament.

Big Sky was second with an aggregate of 81.2 pounds followed by HayFever at 79.6 pounds.

“We won the meatfish tournament out of the same area – (wahoo) just show up there in the heat of the summer,” said Bruner. “It’s a pretty fine little area.”

The crew trolled large ballyhoo/Ilander lure combos to catch their fish.

“The Ilanders, we keep an arsenal of them,” said Bruner. “The dark purples seem to work higher (in the water column) and the light colors, pink, chartreuse and light blue, seem to work better down deep.”

The largest wahoo hit a bait on a planer while the second-largest hit a surface bait.

The action was virtually non-stop for the crew, which included Bruner’s wife Lisa Loud, Bruno co-owner Mike Kuiken, Robert Mayer and his son Crayton, Max McMillan, Rod Bryant and Steve Smith.

“We dropped the lines in at 7 a.m. and at 7:20 had the first fish in the boat,” said Bruner. “It didn’t stop, it stayed active all day long. We had at least 30 cutoffs. We probably lost $500 to $600 worth of rigs. It’s a day that will stick in my head for a while.”

Margaret Stacy of Big Sky, Capt. Jim Johnston’s granddaughter, was the top Lady Angler with a 47.4-pound wahoo. Allen Butler of HayFever was the top Youth Angler with a 42.3-pound wahoo.
Cobia confusion

In the wake of a Fishery Bulletin released by NOAA Fisheries on Aug. 4, some anglers have had the misconception they will be able to harvest cobia beginning on Sept. 5.

The NOAA Fisheries bulletin announced new cobia regulations that will be effective beginning on Sept. 5, but the recreation fishery for cobia in the Atlantic Group (Georgia through New York) remains closed in federal waters through the remainder of 2017.

The recreational Atlantic Group cobia season will re-open on Jan. 1, 2018, at which time the new regulations outlined in the bulletin released on Aug. 4 will become effective.

The new cobia regulations for recreational anglers include an increase in the minimum size limit from 33 inches to 36 inches fork length. The recreational bag limit is now one fish per person or six fish per vessel, whichever is more restrictive.

For more information, visit
Spanish Mackerel Derby

The 7th Annual Spanish Mackerel Derby will be held out of the Mullet Hut in Murrells Inlet next weekend, Aug. 25-26.

First place is a $5,000 cash prize. For more information, call 843-602-0910.
SALTT registration

The Student Angler League Tournament Trail is entering its fourth season, and registration is now open.

The trail, open to middle and high school anglers and targeting red drum and largemouth bass in separate categories, opens on Sept. 16 with the first of six trails in the 2017-18 season.

All events are held at the Carroll Campbell Marine Complex, located on the Sampit River in Georgetown. For more information, visit