Captain Mike McDonald throws a cast net to catch menhaden to use for bait in Winyah Bay, Georgetown. JASON LEE jlee@thesunnews
June 01, 2017 5:41 PM
Fishing report: Opportunities aplenty for anglers following rough stretch of weather
By Gregg HolshouserEstuary
Look For: Flounder, spotted seatrout, black drum, red drum, sheepshead, bluefish.
Comments: Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters has had a nice week catching spotted seatrout and black drum in the Little River area. “We’ve caught a 4.5-pound trout on Thursday, a 5.5-pounder on Wednesday and several 2-3 pound fish,” said Kelly, who has used live shrimp on a popping cork to catch them. Kelly has also had good success catching black drum using live shrimp on a 1/4-ounce jig head. Kelly’s best success has come in Tubbs Inlet. “The shrimp are pretty plentiful if you know where to look,” said Kelly. “There are a lot of small fish and a few spots where the big ones are. You’ve gotta wait until the current starts moving.” Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown has pounded the area from North Inlet and south to catch red drum and flounder. McDonald has used live bait (mullet, menhaden, mud minnows) and plastic grubs to catch his fish. On a Wednesday morning trip, McDonald caught four reds and a few flounder. On Thursday, McDonald had a productive shark-fishing trip and noted a water temperature reading of 78 degrees in the Winyah Bay vicinity. Flounder and black drum action has been solid this week in Murrells Inlet with flounder and red drum also available.
Look For: King mackerel, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, spadefish, black sea bass, flounder, weakfish, whiting, croaker, pompano, black drum
Comments: After a windy, stormy stretch, conditions are calming back down and fishing is picking up again. “The water’s still a little bit muddy but it’s getting clearer,” said Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters in Murrells Inlet. Maples has hit the near-shore reefs this week to catch sizable weakfish to four pounds, plus reports flounder have made a decent showing. Also look for spadefish, blues and black sea bass (13-inch minimum size limit) on the near-shore reefs. King mackerel catches on bottom spots in the 10- to 15-mile range have slowed a bit this week but are still decent. Maples notes cobia are roaming the near-shore reefs and can be found on bait pods near the beach but cannot be harvested in 2017 in South Carolina waters (to three miles offshore) or federal waters (beyond three miles) and must be released. Maples notes pods of menhaden are “everywhere” along the beach. Water clarity has improved as the week has progressed along the beach with catches fair from the piers for Spanish mackerel, bluefish, whiting, croaker, pompano and flounder. Cherry Grover Pier reported a water temperature reading of 79 degrees on the surface and 76 on the bottom Thursday afternoon.
Look For: Dolphin, blackfin tuna, wahoo, blue marlin, sailfish, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grunts, porgy, amberjack, grouper.
Comments: Trolling action offshore in areas such as the Black Jack Hole, Winyah Scarp and Georgetown Hole is good for dolphin, blackfin tuna and a few wahoo. Blue marlin, sailfish and a few white marlin are also on hand. Many boats fishing in the Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament last weekend ventured 70+ miles offshore to find the blue water, thus the billfish. Bottom fishing is simply excellent 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: “I’ve been seeing a lot of nice bream, a lot of bass and decent catfish,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. “The Waccamaw is catching good fish, (and) the Ricefields. On the Little Pee Dee at Galivants Ferry they’re catching some beautiful fish (bream and bass). We are in a full-fledged summer pattern.” Look for bream in 2-4 feet of water hitting crickets and worms. “In some places they’re in six inches to two feet, around trees and cypress stumps but no more than four feet,” said Stalvey. Bass are hitting worms worked on the bottom, crawl-type baits and top-water such as Bang-O-Lures and buzz baits.
The docks at Georgetown Landing Marina were full of boats Thursday as a Small Craft Advisory canceled the first day of fishing in the 50th annual Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament. Cameron Rhodes South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series
May 26, 2017 5:41 PM
Despite interruption from Mother Nature, Georgetown billfishing tourney off to solid start
By Gregg HolshouserDespite windy conditions that derailed the opening day of fishing, the 50th annual Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament got underway Friday with solid billfishing out of Georgetown Landing Marina.
Fishing on Thursday was blown out by a Small Craft Advisory, leaving the 44-boat field with only two days to fish two, Friday and Saturday. The tournament is the second of five legs in the South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series.
Amy Dukes, coordinator of the Governor’s Cup for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, reported that 41 or 42 boats headed offshore on Friday to fish amid 7-8 foot seas.
“(Friday) morning was definitely a little sporty but it started to lay down this afternoon,” said Dukes. “They at least had a favorable (westerly) wind this morning to ride out in.”
Dukes said that at one point 52 boats were set to fish the prestigious 50th edition of the tournament, but some pulled out due to the marine forecast and others had mechanical issues.
As of 4 p.m. Friday, the committee boat had reported 13 billfish were caught and released by the field including seven blue marlin, four sailfish and two white marlin.
Legal Holiday, with a homeport of Bohicket Marina, was the only boat to release multiple billfish – two sailfish and a white marlin.
Dukes stressed the catches reported by the committee boat were unofficial and had not been confirmed as of press time.
Dukes did not anticipate any blue marlin being brought to the dock on Friday.
The federal minimum size limit for blue marlin to be landed is 99 inches, but they must measure 105 inches to be eligible for Governor’s Cup competition. White marlin and sailfish are eligible for release points only.
A blue marlin release is worth 600 points, white marlin 300 points and sailfish 200 points.
Seas were expected to subside to 3-5 feet, according to the NOAA Marine Forecast, for the final day of fishing on Saturday.
The public is welcome to the dock at Georgetown Landing Marina for weigh-ins of wahoo, dolphin, tuna and possibly blue marlin beginning at around 5 p.m.
Visit www.govcup.dnr.sc.gov for updates on releases of billfish during the tournament.
Marlin Quay Carolina Slam
The weather also played havoc with this meatfish event. Originally scheduled for two days, Chris Lawhon of Marlin Quay Marina extended the event for a week ending last weekend to allow boats to get one day of fishing in.
“We had a lower turnout this year because the weather just wasn’t in our favor,” said Lawhon, who had a field of 20 boats.
Snap Hooked, captained by Greg Plummer, won the tournament by weighing in the heaviest aggregate of wahoo, dolphin and tuna. Snap Hooked’s winning weight was 66.05 pounds for a 55.20-pound wahoo and a 10.85-pound dolphin.
Lolligag, captained by Myles Herring, was second with 47.40 pounds including a 26-pound tuna and 21.25-pound dolphin.
On the Hook, captained by Jimmy Bass, finished third with 41.40 pounds including a 22.60-pound dolphin and 18.80-pound tuna.
Snap Hooked’s 55.20-pounder was the largest wahoo weighed in, Lolligag landed the largest tuna (26.15 pounds) and Jones’n, captained by Ron Jones, weighed in the largest dolphin, a 48.60-pounder.
Far Out Shootout
This meatfish event out of Ocean Isle Fishing Center was originally scheduled for seven days but was also extended, to 15 days, due to uncooperative sea conditions.
Sea P.A. topped the field of 41 boats with an aggregate of 70.25 pounds including a 24.35-pound wahoo, 29.85-pound dolphin and 16.05-pound tuna caught.
Sea Bandit finished second with 67.8 pounds followed by No Quarter in third with 67.45 pounds.
Mac Attack caught the largest tuna, a 25.3-pounder, Conference Call caught the largest dolphin, a 34.25-pounder, and No Quarter caught the largest wahoo, a 37.95-pounder.
CCA Star Tournament
The CCA South Carolina Star Tournament is underway featuring 101 days of fishing from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, on Sept. 4. Anglers will try to catch tagged redfish with a chance to win a 2017 Sea Hunt boat.
For more information on the tournament, visit www.ccasouthcarolina.com/star/ or call 803-865-4164.
South Carolina’s flounder limits will become stricter beginning on July 1. Photo courtesy Gul-R-Boy Guide Service
May 26, 2017 3:30 PM
Fishing for flounder? New law features changes in regulation starting this summer
By Gregg Holshouser
A bill that will increase the minimum size limit and lower the daily bag limits for South Carolina’s flounder population has been signed into law by Gov. Henry McMaster after easily moving through the S.C. Legislature.
McMaster signed the bill a week ago, on May 19, after it was approved by the Senate, and the new limits will go into effect on July 1.
The bill increases the flounder minimum size limit 1 inch to 15 inches and decreases the daily bag limits to 10 per person and 20 per boat. South Carolina’s soon-to-be-outdated flounder limits are currently a 14-inch minimum size limit and bag limits of 15 per person per day with a boat limit of 30 per day.
The bill had full support in the Legislature, passing the House of Representatives by a unanimous 108-0 vote before being passed by the Senate.
“It received no descending votes in the Senate and the vote in the house was very, very unusual, 108-0 – remarkable,” said Charles Farmer, who has served as liaison between Coastal Conservation Association South Carolina, which pushed for the bill, and the S.C. General Assembly for the past 11 years.
“It was a lot of work, a lot of effort but for all practical purposes, no one opposed the bill.”
Fishermen in the Palmetto State have a little over a month before the new flounder regulations go into effect on July 1.
“DNR (law enforcement) will educate the public for the first couple months to make sure everyone is aware,” said Farmer, “and then maybe write warning tickets.”
Farmer pointed out that flounder receive unique fishing pressure, as they are targeted both day and night.
“They are under pressure during day by hook-and-line (fishermen) and at night by giggers,” Farmer said. “(The new regulations) apply to them both. Giggers will have to be more careful when they stick a fish.
“We feel this is one of the most significant bills in marine conservation in some time.”
Farmer is optimistic the 1-inch increase in size limit in particular will help the flounder population in coming years.
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.
“A 15-inch flounder is far more productive at spawning, has a much greater spawning capacity than a 14-inch flounder,” said Farmer. “The overall population is down is significantly. You want to find a way for the population to come back but at the same time not penalize the recreational fishermen anymore than necessary.
“(S.C.) DNR has determined you’re going to affect about 29-31 percent of fish taken each year. We will in effect save or protect 29-31 percent of the fish that would have been taken. In the next six years, you will begin to see a real beneficial effect for the flounder population.”
Farmer, who concluded a 36-year career as a marine biologist with S.C. DNR prior to joining CCA SC in 2006, points to the burgeoning population along South Carolina’s coast behind the need for stricter limits on popular marine fish species.
“The saltwater fishing license is the only license increasing in numbers,” said Farmer. “The hunting and freshwater fishing licenses tend to be relatively stable. Saltwater licenses continue to go up which means more anglers, more pressure, which means the need for legislation such as this on flounder.”