Cullen Gerace and his dad, Peter Gerace show off the 4.1-pound flounder the nine-year-old caught to win the Grand Strand Saltwater Anglers Association Spring Flounder Tournament last Saturday. Submitted photo
Here’s who all won during busy fishing weekend in Georgetown
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
May 04, 2018 06:12 PM
Updated May 04, 2018 07:32 PM
Georgetown County was a real hot spot for tournament fishing last Saturday, with three major events on tap.
The tournaments targeted fish species spanning the entire saltwater spectrum, from flounder and redfish in the inlets and bays to wahoo, tuna and dolphin on the offshore ledges.
Without further ado, here are the details, in alphabetical order:
Georgetown Meatfish Slam
Now that’s what you call cutting it close.
When 2 p.m. rolled around last Saturday afternoon, co-owners Lyle Floyd and Brian Ridgeway and the crew aboard Game Plan had boated a dolphin and a nice blackfin tuna while trolling ballyhoo with Bluewater Candy skirts just north of the Georgetown Hole.
Missing the final component of a meatfish slam – wahoo – they went to a new, well, game plan with an hour left before lines-in time of 3 p.m. in the 10th annual Georgetown Meatfish Slam.
“We started pulling high-speed lures for the last hour and we hooked up with (two wahoo) at 2:50 p.m.,” said Floyd. “It was probably two minutes before (3 p.m.) when they both hit the deck.”
Ridgeway, of Sumter, was the angler on the largest of the two wahoo, with Mikey Bozeman, also of Sumter, on the smaller fish. Larry Keeling of Sumter was the fourth member of the crew.
Knowing that the first boat to weigh in all three targeted species (wahoo, tuna, dolphin) stood to win a bonus $1,000, Floyd said they high-tailed it toward Georgetown in the 32-foot Contender as soon as the two wahoo were on ice.
“We ran in at 54-55 mph, and made it from (north of) the Georgetown Hole to the (Winyah Bay) jetties in an hour and five minutes,” said Floyd.
Game Plan didn’t make the weigh-in in time to earn the $1,000, as that honor went to the crew of Georgi Girl, of Florence.
The Game Plan crew was pleased when they did weigh in, as their 36.7-pound wahoo, 19.9-pound tuna and 9.5-pound dolphin equated to a 66.1-pound aggregate, good enough to win first prize of $5,000.
“I knew we had a decent chance since we had all three fish, but I didn’t think it was going to be quite enough,” said Floyd. “We were really happy with it.”
Georgi Girl won 2nd Place Aggregate with 31.8 pounds.
Game Plan also won the Big Dog Aggregate and 1st Place Tuna. Yard Man won 1st Place Dolphin with a 19.6-pounder that also earned top Lady Angler honors for angler Hayden Kelly. Beach House weighed in a 41.4-pounder to win 1st Place Wahoo honors.
GSSWA Spring Flounder Tournament
To put it bluntly, the small fry caught the big fish in the 17th annual Grand Strand Saltwater Anglers tournament in Murrells Inlet.
Nine-year-old Cullen Gerace bested all the anglers in the adult division with a 4.1-pound flounder to win the $3,500 first prize.
Cullen is a veteran angler, considering he’s a third-grader at Coastal Montessori Charter School in Pawleys Island, and he even caught the winning fish on a grub.
Two years removed from winning top junior angler honors in the tournament, Cullen made the decision to move up a division this year.
“I said ‘You can either fish for $300 and a fishing rod you’ve already got or you can fish with the big boys for $1,500,’ ” recalled his Dad, Peter Gerace. “He said ‘I want to fish with the big boys.’ ”
After a late start, the father-son duo were fishing on the north end of the inlet when Cullen hooked up with the eventual winning fish on a Z-Man (New Penny) grub a little before 9:30 a.m.
“When (Cullen) hooked the big one it swam right to the boat,” said Peter Gerace. “Then the fish came up and I realized how big it was. I missed it the first time, then it took off and it went bananas. I thought we were going to lose it.”
But Peter Gerace did manage to net the fish, and they were thrilled to see the size of it.
“It was very thick,” recalled Peter Gerace. “When I netted it and dropped the net with the fish in the boat I said ‘How does it feel to win?’ He said ‘Awesome!’ I told him how proud of him I was and he said ‘Thanks Daddy, you’re my favorite thing. And that’s the biggest flounder I’ve ever caught.’
“I told him ‘Well, you picked the right day to catch your biggest one!’ ”
After finishing out the day, the verdict at the weigh-in was confirmed – the third-grader had indeed beaten all the big boys and won the tournament. He topped 183 other adult anglers, with a total of 27 flounder weighed in the division.
“I’m real proud of him,” said Peter Gerace. “He’s been practicing, keeping at it. He’s going to be a good fisherman. He does it all himself.”
George Smart finished second with a 3.40-pound flounder good for $600. Tommy Collins was third with a 2.85-pounder, Bentley Lachicotte fourth with a 2.40-pounder and John Harrington and Charles Gamber Jr. finished tied for fifth with 2.15-pound fish.
Camden Lee won the Youth Division and $150 with a 2.10-pound flounder. Ava Heise was second with a 2.0-pounder and Kinsley Glover third with a 1.9-pounder.
Josh Winesett won the Bluefish Division with a 2.25-pounder.
IFA Redfish Tour
A pair of Horry County anglers ventured to neighboring Georgetown County to win the IFA Redfish Tour stop out of the Carroll Ashemore Campbell Marine Complex on Saturday.
Steve Fennell of North Myrtle Beach and Bobby Marks of Conway weighed in a two-redfish aggregate of 11.57 pounds, but it was the larger of the pair of fish that had the crowd buzzing at the weigh-in on the banks of the Sampit River.
Each two-man team was allowed to weigh in two red drum measuring within South Carolina’s slot limit of 15 to 23 inches.
The duo’s lunker measured 22 inches but weighed an astounding 7.04 pounds. Fennell and Marks paired the tournament lunker with a nice 4.53-pounder for their winning aggregate.
Fennell was pleased with the conditions, along with the fishing which enabled them to finish atop the field of 55 boats.
“It was outstanding,” said Fennell. “There were light winds in the morning but picked up during the day. We caught good fish all day and we were able to cull.”
According to the IFA, Fennell and Marks caught their fish on Berkeley Gulp baits fishing the Sampit River.
The duo won a Ranger RB190 powered by a 90-horsepower four-stroke Mercury valued at over $26,000.
The hometown duo of Brian Goude and Derek Tayor, both of Georgetown, ventured south to fish Bulls Bay and fished floated Berkely Gulp baits to catch reds weighing 5.41 and 4.75 pounds. Their aggregate of 10.16 pounds was good for second place and $2,131 in winnings.
The lowcountry duo of Marvin Benford, of Summerville, and Rob Cowen, of John’s Island, fished Bulls Bay with Berkely Gulp baits and finished third with an 8.80-pound aggregate.
The tournament was the first of two in the Redfish Tour’s Atlantic Division, with both staged in Georgetown. The second event is scheduled for the Campbell Marine Complex on Sept. 22.
The Atlantic Division is one of five on the Redfish Tour. The tour championship will be held Oct. 26-27 in Hopedale, La.
Steve Fennell of North Myrtle Beach and Bobby Marks of Conway show off their winning red drum in the IFA Redfish Tour’s Atlantic Division stop in Georgetown last Saturday. IFA Redfish Tour
Marc Treurniet (left) and Nick Evans of Southport, N.C., show off a 49.75-pound king mackerel in 2017 at Southport Marina. The kings are being caught in large numbers off the Grand Strand coast. Courtesy of U.S. Open King Mackerel Tournament
King mackerel schools are “skyrocketing, going nuts” in offshore waters
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
May 03, 2018 06:36 PM
Updated May 04, 2018 06:14 PM
Look For: Flounder, red drum, black drum, spotted seatrout, bluefish, sheepshead.
Comments: Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions hit Paradise Reef early Wednesday on slick seas to play with the Spanish, blues and weakfish but then came inside Murrells Inlet to finish the trip. Connolly’s crew catch eight flounder with one keeper over the 15-inch minimum size limit and two reds including one keeper in the 15-23 inch slot and a chunky 25-incher that was released. On the north end, Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters caught flounder, blues and reds in the Sunset Beach vicinity. Kelly landed the flounder on a 1/4 ounce jig head tipped with mud minnows, got the reds to hit mud minnows under popping corks and caught the blues on top-water lures and Berkeley Gulp minnows. Early this week, Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service took a charter trip to North Inlet and produced two reds and five black drum, but that didn’t tell the whole story. “We lost a lot of fish,” said McDonald with a chuckle.
Look For: Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, bluefish, weakfish, flounder, whiting, pompano, croaker.
Comments: May has arrived, and so have the mackerel – Spanish and king. With optimal southerly breezes blowing all week, there has been pretty water along the beach and in the near-shore waters and the catches show it. Kings have shown up nicely at Belky Bear, a little over 10 miles east of Murrells Inlet and figure to make a showing on the beach anytime now. Spanish catches have been superb at the near-shore reefs such as Paradise and Jim Caudle. On a Thursday trip, Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters enjoyed a little of it all, catching Spanish at Paradise, kings at Belky Bear and weakfish at Pawleys. Maples was impressed with the king action in particular. “There was a school out there, probably an acre wide, skyrocketing, going nuts,” said Maples. “I couldn’t get more than two lines in the water.” Maples slow-trolled cigar minnows to catch a limit of six in less than an hour. Keep an eye out for migrating cobia, which should move into the near-shore waters any time now. The action is also good for Spanish and bluefish off Grand Strand piers, with whiting and croaker also being landed. Look for a push of pompano to show, plus mid May is prime time to land a king off the piers. Wick Fisher of Cherry Grove Pier reported a water temperature of 64 degrees at midday Thursday.
Look For: Blackfin tuna, wahoo, dolphin, barracuda, yellowfin tuna, grouper, amberjack, black sea bass, vermilion snapper, red porgy, triggerfish, white grunts.
Comments: Trolling hit a bit of a lull at midweek, but expect excellent catches of dolphin and blackfin tuna, with a few wahoo in the weeks to come. Dolphin have been found in good numbers, but well offshore this week. There have been occasional catches of yellowfin tuna, especially in northern areas along the break, from the Steeples and north. May marks the end of the shallow-water spawning closure for grouper, so species such as gag, red and scamp grouper are once again available for harvest. Bottom fishing is excellent for black sea bass, vermilion snapper, triggerfish and porgy, especially on bottom spots deeper than 100 feet. Red snapper are regularly inhabiting offshore reefs off South Carolina, but must be released indefinitely in the South Atlantic Region.
Look For: Bream, catfish, bass, crappie.
Comments: “The water’s high everywhere, but fishing is on point,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. Stalvey called bream fishing for bluegills and shellcracker “phenomenal” with fish hitting crickets and worms in 3-4 feet of water. Stalvey says bass action is good with Senkos and top-water lures working well. Stacey Proctor of Conway won the big fish in the weekly bass tournament out of Conway Marina with her 6.6-pounder. Stalvey called catfish action “very, very good” on bush hooks and by rod-and-reel. Fresh cut eel and live bream work well for the catfish.
Eight-year-old Brayden McMullan shows off the 67.9-pound wahoo he weighed in on April 14 after a day of fishing with Team OIFC in the South Carolina Wahoo Series. McMullan was named the top junior angler in the series for the catch. Submitted photo
Why the 10th annual Meatfish Slam is commencing at just the right time
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
April 27, 2018 06:35 PM
Updated April 27, 2018 07:48 PM
After an absolutely horrendous stretch of windy weather in late winter and early spring – virtually February through most of April – area fishermen have finally caught a break.
The wind is cooperating this weekend for boats to get offshore for the fantastic big-game trolling action late April offers, just in time for the 10th annual Meatfish Slam out of Georgetown Landing Marina.
With the way the spring has unfolded, Saturday will serve as a kickoff of sorts for the offshore trolling season.
The Meatfish Slam was scheduled for Friday and Saturday, with competing boats able to fish one of the two days and targeting wahoo, tuna and dolphin.
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But with Saturday’s offshore marine forecast calling for 2-4 foot seas with a northwesterly breeze, all 23 boats passed on Friday and will be fishing on Saturday.
“Weather-wise it’s just kept every boat at the dock,” said Ed Keelin, General Manager of Georgetown Landing Marina. “As terrible as the spring has been for wind I don’t think anybody’s been fun-fishing yet. Hopefully tomorrow will be a good day, they can have some fun and go catch some fish.”
With the South Carolina Wahoo Series winding up earlier this week after its two month-plus run, the focus will turn to catching a Carolina Meatfish Slam. The heaviest aggregate of one wahoo, one tuna and one dolphin will earn the top prize of $5,000 in the tournament.
While wahoo and blackfin tuna have been commonly caught in recent weeks when boats could get offshore, dolphin catches have been sporadic. In short, while wahoo and blackfin tuna are available throughout the winter and early spring, dolphin are migrating from points south and have yet to arrive en masse.
“They’ve been catching (dolphin) in the Bahamas and the (Florida) Keys but they ought to be there,” said Keelin. “When they come they will be traveling the (western) edge of the Gulf Stream.”
Keelin projects the western edge of the Gulf Stream could be at least 60 miles offshore Saturday.
Lines-in time is at 7 a.m., lines out is 3 p.m. and the scales at Georgetown Landing Marina close at 7 p.m. The first boat to weigh in all three targeted species (wahoo, tuna, dolphin) will earn $1,000.
For more information, call the marina at 843-546-1776.
S.C. Wahoo Series
Despite very few fishable days due to the aforementioned relentless windy conditions, an amazing number of large wahoo were caught in the series, which ran from Feb. 2 through April 15, plus the Hilton Head Harbor Wahoo Shootout which concluded last Saturday.
Georgetown Landing Marina was one of three weigh-in sites for the series.
“A lot of good fish got weighed in across the dock, and that proves (wahoo) are out there even in the winter,” said Keelin.
The big buzz on the docks was created by a 105.5-pound wahoo landed by Reelist out of St. Helena, but Renegade of Mt. Pleasant was the series winner with an aggregate of 156.9 pounds for two wahoo weighing 88.3 and 68.6 pounds. LIQRBOX of Charleston was second with an aggregate of 148.9 pounds.
The Kings Full crew of Conway, led by Jason Johnson, put wahoo weighing 85.5 and 60.1 pounds on the scales at Georgetown Landing, good for an aggregate of 145.6 pounds and third place.
Reelist paired the 105.5-pounder with a 36.5-pounder to finish fourth with a 142.0-pound aggregate.
Nonsense, led by Owen Johnson of Georgetown, finished in fifth with a 139.3-pound aggregate including a whopping 92.6-pounder.
The McMullan crew of Team OIFC out of Ocean Isle Fishing Center claimed sixth place with an aggregate of 130.9 pounds.
Eight-year-old Brayden McMullan was the top junior angler in the series for landing one of Team OIFC’s two wahoo, a 67.9-pounder.
Eight-year-old Brayden McMullan shows off the 67.9-pound wahoo he weighed in on April 14 at Georgetown Landing Marina after a day of fishing with Team OIFC in the South Carolina Wahoo Series. McMullan was named the top junior angler in the series for the catch. Submitted photo