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M.I. Fishing community suffers a loss

October 13, 2017 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on M.I. Fishing community suffers a loss

Jessica Hill, shown here on duty at Perry’s Bait and Tackle, left a lasting legacy in Murrells Inlet. Picasa
Our little fishing village still reeling from loss of Jessica Hill’s knowledge, smile

By Gregg Holshouser

For The Sun News

October 06, 2017 5:32 PM

A week later, the Murrells Inlet fishing community is still trying to come to grips with the loss of Jessica Hill. For over a decade, Hill was the face of Perry’s Bait and Tackle, a Murrells Inlet landmark that has been in operation since the mid 1950s and at its current waterfront location on the north end of the Marshwalk since 1971.

Hill left this life on Sept. 29 in a manner that was unfathomable and heinous, and absolutely devastating to her family, including her three children, and many friends, near and far. With her departure, a part of the personality and charm of the little fishing village is gone too.

For much of her time at Perry’s, I called to get her thoughts on the saltwater-fishing scene to include in the fishing report I have written weekly for The Sun News since 2003. Her observations from that particular week would come in rapid succession as she went over what was happening inside the inlet, at the jetties, in the surf and at the near-shore reefs.

Many a time I would say, “Slow down, Jessica, I can’t type that fast!” And we would laugh, and she would go over it again, but a little slower.

Customers, from the most experienced local old salt to the tourist fishing in saltwater for the first time, were drawn to Perry’s for Jessica’s welcoming personality, local fishing knowledge and of course her beautiful smile.

Hill was a natural at rig-tying, and was well known for her expertise at the craft that is of the utmost importance to a serious angler. More than a few local charter captains have credited Hill with teaching them the intricacies of tying various successful rigs.

It can be difficult for visitors to find local fishing knowledge, but Hill made many an inexperienced tourist feel right at home in the little inlet, helping them catch fish with her expertise.

“When she tied (a rig or knot), she explained why it worked and she was teaching valuable knowledge for anybody, from a 9- to an 80-year-old,” said Capt. Jason Burton of Murrells Inlet Fishing Center. “She made a lot of people who weren’t very good at fishing experts overnight.”

The Murrells Inlet fishing community showed its support and love for Hill and her family Monday evening, an event Burton helped organize.

“She loved boats and fishing, so we thought why don’t we ride around the inlet and throw some flowers into the water for her?” said Burton.

In just over a day after the tribute was planned, over 30 boats with approximately 200 of her family and closest friends aboard cruised from the Marshwalk to Marlin Quay Marina and back before anchoring up adjacent to the Marshwalk. After tributes to Hill were given over VHF radio, flowers were tossed into the water and a last cast was given in her honor.

Hill was instrumental in having an artificial reef established in memory of her father-in-law, Winston Perry, the founder of Perry’s Bait and Tackle who passed away in January, 2010. Just five months later, in June, 2010, she had accomplished that feat when the Winston Perry Memorial Reef was placed on the ocean floor at the Paradise Reef site located three miles east of the Murrells Inlet jetties.

The idea of establishing an artificial reef in Hill’s honor is being discussed by local residents, along with supporting her three children, but details aren’t complete. Details will be provided in this column as they become available.

Rest in peace, Jessica. You will be greatly missed.

Gregg Holshouser:

King Mackerel Tournament Kicks Off

October 13, 2017 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on King Mackerel Tournament Kicks Off

The U.S. Open King Mackerel Tournament is underway this weekend out of Southport Marina in Southport, N.C., with two fishing days, Friday and Saturday. Submitted photo
This fish is the target in several fishing tournaments as calendar shifts to fall

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

October 06, 2017 3:18 PM

Fall is here, so tis the season for king mackerel tournaments along our section of the Carolina coast.

Before the cold front pushed through last weekend and the relentless wind kicked in ever since, kings had been found along the beach.

Conditions were expected to improve over the weekend, and look for king action to take off.

The U.S. Open King Mackerel Tournament is underway this weekend out of Southport Marina in Southport, N.C., with two fishing days, Friday and Saturday.

Scales were to open at 11 a.m. both days. is streaming live from the weigh-in on Friday (2-5 p.m.) and Saturday (2-4 p.m.). Visit for more information.

Next weekend a pair of tournaments will be on tap – the Fall Brawl King Classic at Ocean Isle Fishing Center in Ocean Isle Beach, N.C., and the Marlin Quay King Mackerel Shootout at Marlin Quay Marina in Murrells Inlet.

In the Fall Brawl, competitors can fish one of two days – Oct. 14 or Oct. 15, with weigh-in closing both days at 5 p.m. For more information, visit

The Marlin Quay Shootout features one fishing day, Oct. 14, with the weigh-in beginning at 3 p.m. For more information, call 843-651-4444.

Last Saturday, the crew of Wahooligans, led by Capt. Billy Goss, won the Shallotte Point King Mackerel Tournament out of Inlet View in Shallotte, N.C., with a 36.21-pounder.

Windy conditions greeted 29 boats fishing in the second event of the Student Angler League Tournament Trail last Saturday in Georgetown.

Noah Payne and Kadyn Kellahanbrought of Andrews High School claimed the Red Drum Division with a pair of reds totaling 8.33 pounds.

Sisters Hailey and Christy Edmonds of Carolina Forest High School finished second with 8.06 pounds followed by Ashton Rouhselang and Lance Cooper of Conway Middle School with 7.98 pounds including the big fish of the division, a 4.39-pounder.

Conway High School won the Bass Division with an aggregate of 9.82 pounds including the big fish of 3.33 pounds.

Andrew Vereen of St. James High School was second with 9.79 pounds, followed by Brandon Porter of Andrews High School with 7.92 pounds.

The next event on the trail is set for Oct. 14 out of the Carroll Ashemore Campbell Marine Complex on the Sampit River.

Area high school and middle school anglers can continue to register for SALTT events. For information, visit

Gregg Holshouser:

Better fishing days in store

October 13, 2017 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Better fishing days in store

Anglers set up on Pier 14 and 2nd Avenue Pier this past summer. Janet Blackmon Morgan

Fishing report: Wind won the week, but better days are coming for local anglers

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

October 05, 2017 5:16 PM

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

Comments: Fishing has been decent this week despite a relentless northeast wind, but Capt. Jason Burton of Murrells Inlet Fishing Center expects hot fall fishing to be on when it calms down. “I’d imagine it’s going to go nuts in a week or so,” said Burton. “As soon as this wind breaks it’s really going to cut loose. The nights are getting cooler and the best fishing is right around the corner.” Burton reports good catches of flounder in Murrells Inlet at low tide with red drum, black drum and spotted seatrout at the jetties. Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters in Little River noted a 72-degree water temperature during a Wednesday trip, a significant drop over the last week. Kelly has had good success with flounder and red drum on recent trips. ‘Low tide’s the best, and there are a lot of flounder,” said Kelly. On a Tuesday trip Kelly’s crew caught 20 flounder with a few keepers including a five-pounder on finger mullet on a 1/4-ounce jig head. Many of the fish were in the 13-14 inch range, just under the 15-inch minimum size limit. Kelly has also seen plenty of red drum this week in the 15-17 inch range. Local jetties are producing bull red drum measuring anywhere from 27-45 inches in length, well over South Carolina’s slot limit of 15-23 inches for the species. Anglers are urged to catch these spawners quickly with beefed up tackle and release them carefully, being sure they are revived before letting them go.

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

Comments: It’s prime time to catch a variety of species in the near-shore waters, if only the wind would stop blowing. Weakfish (summer trout) and red drum have shown up on near-shore hard-bottom areas and mackerel (Spanish and kings) are following schools of mullet and menhaden southward along the beach. But the northeasterly wind has been blowing hard for nearly a week. Kings can also be found on bottom spots in 40-plus feet of water. “They’re out there, you just can’t get to them,” said Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters. Catches have been decent on Grand Strand piers despite the windy conditions and murky water. Michael Wallace of Cherry Grove Pier reports good catches of whiting and croaker, with some spots beginning to show up. A few juvenile red drum have also been caught this week. Anglers have had some success jigging for Spanish mackerel and bluefish. Wallace reported a water temperature of 77 degrees on the surface and 78 on the bottom at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, dolphin, grouper, vermilion snapper, triggerfish, red porgy, black sea bass, amberjack.

Comments: Once again, the wind has been the story of the week, with few boats venturing offshore due to rough seas. In recent weeks, offshore trolling boats were catching wahoo and blackfin tuna, along with a few dolphin. Fall is prime time for excellent bottom fishing and conditions look much better for the weekend. Look for grouper, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, red porgy, grunts and amberjack. Cobia cannot be harvested in 2017 in South Carolina waters (to three miles offshore) or federal waters (beyond three miles) and must be released. Also, red snapper must be released in the South Atlantic region.

Look For: Bream, catfish, bass, crappie.

Comments: With a dry spell on tap, local river levels are in great shape. The Little Pee Dee is low, with a 3.83-foot reading at Galivants Ferry at 1 p.m. Wednesday. Bream fishing continues to be excellent with fish hitting crickets and worms in 2-6 feet of water, reports Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. “Bass fishing’s been great,” said Stalvey, who noted one five-bass limit weighing an aggregate of 16 pounds. Stalvey says bass are hitting Texas-rigged worms, buzz baits and frogs. With the water temperature cooling down well into the 70s, crappie are starting to show up on the Great Pee Dee and Little Pee Dee, hitting medium shiners. Catfish are hitting eels, black salties or a variety of cut bait.