The crowd for the 2017 Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament at Georgetown Landing Marina. South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series
This fishing crew already has a series win. Now, it’s off to hot start in Georgetown
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
May 25, 2018 05:17 PM
Updated May 25, 2018 07:52 PM
It’s safe to say Capt. Alan Neiford and the crew of Mister Pete is off to a hot start in the 2018 South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series.
Mister Pete won the series opener at Bohicket Marina on May 12 after releasing four blue marlin in its two days of fishing.
The trend continued through the first two days of the 51st annual Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament out of Georgetown Landing Marina, the second tournament of the series.
Neiford and crew used up their two allotted days, electing to fish on Thursday and Friday, and released three blue marlin to take a big lead with 1,800 points heading into Saturday’s final day of fishing.
Mister Pete, with a home port of Ripley Light Marina in Charleston, had the first release of the tournament, a blue marlin at 9:04 a.m. Thursday. On Friday, Mister Pete released a pair of blues within a little over two hours, one at 11:10 a.m. and the second at 1:27 p.m.
Blue marlin releases earn 600 points, white marlin 300 and sailfish 200.
Now, Mister Pete, owned by brothers Bob and Rusty McClam, gets to sit back and see if the lead holds through Saturday.
Twenty-six boats of the field of 58 are eligible to fish on Saturday including two that are among numerous boats tied for second place with 600 points – Syked Out and Daymaker.
Micabe, which released three sails while fishing Thursday and Friday, is the only other boat with multiple releases.
The crews enjoyed tranquil seas in the offshore waters on Thursday and Friday.
“Thursday they could have water skied out there, it was so flat,” said Amy Dukes, S.C. Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series coordinator for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. “It was pretty calm out there (Friday) too.”
Through the first two days of fishing, the field released 13 blue marlin, eight sailfish and two white marlin, with no blue marlin brought to the dock.
The weigh-ins for the tournament are open to the public, with the boats expected to begin arriving back to the marina at about 5 p.m. Saturday.
Spectators can expect to see the meatfish species – wahoo, tuna, dolphin – weighed in, and possibly a blue marlin. White marlin and sailfish cannot be weighed in to a S.C. Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series event.
For more information on the tournament including live scoring, visit www.govcup.dnr.sc.gov.
Red Drum Limits
Gov. Henry McMaster made it official on May 15 – there will indeed be new limits on red drum in South Carolina waters, and soon.
McMaster signed legislation that will reduce the bag limit of red drum from three fish per person to two, and will establish a boat limit of six fish per day.
The boat limit is the first for red drum in South Carolina waters, and the slot limit of 15 to 23 inches remains the same.
The new limits will go into effect on July 1, 2018.
Far Out Shootout
On The Dot, led by Paul Cochrane, weighed in a 67.65-pound aggregate to win the tournament out of Ocean Isle Fishing Center in Ocean Isle Beach, N.C.
The tournament allowed boats to fish one of 15 days from May 5 through May 19, and a field of 25 boats competed in this year’s event.
The On The Dot crew weighed a 40.35-pound wahoo, 14.45-pound dolphin and 12.85-pound blackfin tuna to account for the winning aggregate.
Sea P.A. was second with 59.35 pounds and Clear Cut third with 58.5 pounds.
A large shark thrashes off the gunwale of the boat Painkiller on Wednesday offshore of Murrells Inlet. Submitted photo
Grand Strand Fishing: Bait ball produces large shark, nice cobia off the coast
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
May 24, 2018 05:51 PM
Updated May 24, 2018 07:34 PM
Look For: Flounder, red drum, black drum, spotted seatrout, bluefish, sheepshead
Comments: Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters had a solid outing on Thursday, highlighted by a four-pound flounder that measured about 22 inches. Kelly netted finger mullet and found that red drum and flounder preferred them over mud minnows. Kelly presented the mullet on 1/4-ounce jig heads and said the best action was on a falling tide. Kelly has also caught black drum and noted a water temperature in the lower to mid 70s. Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle reports the black drum bite has been on in Murrells Inlet. Flounder, red drum and bluefish are also being caught in the inlet plus a few spotted seatrout. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service had a decent day on Tuesday in the Winyah Bay vicinity, producing three reds and two trout. McDonald noted that bait – menhaden and mullet but not shrimp – is plentiful in the bay. “It’s thick, you can walk on it,” said McDonald, who observed a water temperature in the 76-77 degree range. “You can get any size mullet you want.”
Look For: King mackerel, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, cobia, weakfish, spadefish, flounder, whiting, pompano, croaker, black drum
Comments: May is the month for migrating cobia along the Carolina coast, affording anglers an opportunity to catch a sizable, tasty, hard-fighting fish close to the beach. Case in point, the latest edition of Dr. Jason Rosenberg’s Wednesday Fishing With Friends expedition aboard his 32-foot Contender, Painkiller. The crew, with Capt. Jay Sconyers of Aces Up Fishing at the helm, originally had designs to head out to the Georgetown Hole to troll for dolphin, tuna and wahoo. But the seas were too dicey and they turned around after an hour. A good ways before reaching the Murrells Inlet sea buoy, the crew noticed a bait ball and quickly jigged up some pinfish. They deployed the pinfish to the bottom near the bait ball and hooked up with a sizable shark. As the shark, in the 150-pound range, neared the boat a curious cobia appeared to check out the commotion. The cobia ate when a pinfish was pitched to it, and the battle was on about the time the shark broke off. After a spirited battle, the cobia, which wound up weighing 42-pounds, was gaffed and brought aboard. On the near-shore reefs, look for black sea bass, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, weakfish and flounder, plus be on the lookout for a cobia to show up around the boat. Along the beach, Richard O’Leary of 14th Ave. Pier in Myrtle Beach reports whiting, croaker, black drum and pompano are being caught, plus sharks are roaming the pilings. Michael Wallace of Cherry Grove Pier reports a spot run has picked up in intensity over the last few days, with whiting, blues and Spanish mackerel also available. The water temperature Thursday at midday at the Cherry Grove Pier was 76 degrees on the surface, 73 on the bottom.
Look For: Dolphin, blackfin tuna, wahoo, blue marlin, white marlin, sailfish, barracuda, yellowfin tuna, grouper, amberjack, black sea bass, vermilion snapper, red porgy, triggerfish, white grunts.
Comments: The 51st annual Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament is underway with the first day of fishing on Thursday, and 51 of the 59 boats registered for the tournament were fishing. The boats can fish two of three days, Thursday through Saturday. As of 5 p.m., the fleet had released five blue marlin, five sailfish and one white marlin, plus two boats were reportedly hooked up with billfish. Aside from the tournament, trolling has been very productive of late for dolphin and blackfin tuna with a few wahoo mixed in. As for bottom fishing, ledges and hard bottom areas are producing black sea bass, vermilion snapper, gray triggerfish, red porgy, white grunts, amberjack and grouper, especially scamp. Red snapper can also be found on the reefs, but must be released indefinitely in the South Atlantic Region.
Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.
Comments: “For once all the river levels are right and the fishing cannot get much better,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. “It’s amazed me the fish I’ve seen this week.” Action for bream, bass and catfish has been very good. “Bream are hitting crickets and worms, popping bugs and beetle spins on the sides of the rivers, in coves and in lakes off the river,” said Stalvey. Bass action is best early and late in the day. Lures working best, according to Stalvey, include Baby Brush Hogs, Senkos and top-water Bang-O-Lures. Catfish action is very good on cut eels or most any cut bait, and bream.
The crew of Painkiller out of Murrells Inlet shows off the 42-pound cobia they landed on Wednesday. Submitted photo
The docks will be full next Thursday through Saturday at Georgetown Landing Marina for the 51st annual Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament. The crowd last May for the 50th annual tournament is shown here. South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series
Why this iconic Grand Strand fishing tournament will have its hands full this year
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
May 18, 2018 05:11 PM
A year after the big one – the 50th annual Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament – this venerable tournament heads into its next half-century.
Of course, for a tournament that is the oldest billfish tournament in the state of South Carolina and one of the oldest along the East Coast, they all are big ones.
Ironically, the field of boats competing in the 51st annual tournament, which is set for fishing next Thursday through Saturday (May 24-26) out of Georgetown Landing Marina, will likely be larger than last year’s historic event.
A year ago, unfavorable weather put a damper on the number of boats competing and the field wound up at 44 boats.
After the number of boats in last week’s South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series opener at Bohicket Marina was up, the trend is continuing for Georgetown.
“I’m trying to figure out where I’m going to put 57 boats,” Ed Keelin, Operations Manager of Georgetown Landing Marina, said with a laugh on Thursday. “I’m prepared for a few more boats to show up. All the tournaments are way up in their numbers. I guess with the way the economy is running more boats are participating, more are showing up.”
The public is invited to the weigh-ins at Georgetown Landing Marina on all three days of fishing.
“The boats should start coming in about 5 p.m.,” said Keelin. “We’ve got plenty of beer, plenty of drinks, plenty of T-shirts.”
The crowd can expect to see the meatfish species – wahoo, tuna, dolphin – weighed in, but if a blue marlin is brought to the scales, watch out.
“If they find out a blue marlin’s coming in, all of a sudden the crowd triples,” said Keelin.
The federal minimum size for a blue marlin to be harvested is 99 inches, measured from fork of the tail to tip of the lower jaw.
In S.C. Governor’s Cup events, though, a blue marlin must measure 105 inches to be brought to the dock. If the fish is short, the offending boat would be penalized 600 points.
There will be a group of boats that call Georgetown Landing Marina their home port competing in the tournament, including Beach House, Big Kahuna, Big Sky, Bruno, Christy II, Mirage, Miss Wy, Nauti Girl and Rascal.
One man has been right there with the tournament every step of the way.
Jim Johnston, owner of Blue Sky, has competed in all 50 tournaments and is gearing up to start on another half-century of blue-water fishing in the event.
Johnston was the angler on the first blue marlin ever caught in the tournament, a 216-pounder brought aboard Bonanza, a 23-foot Formula, in 1969.
In 1974, Johnston and his longtime fishing buddy, Bony Peace, won the tournament aboard Jackpot, a 31-foot Bertram. Then Johnston made it back-to-back victories in 1975 aboard Sugar Tango.
Mister Pete won the series opener, the Bohicket Marina Invitational Billfish Tournament, last Saturday after releasing four blue marlin, good for 2,400 points.
Full Pull was second after releasing two blue marlin, two sailfish and one white marlin, for 1,900 points. Artemis was third with three blue marlin releases, good for 1,800 points.
The final event of the 2017-18 school year in the Student Angler League Tournament Trail was held on May 6 out of the Carroll Campbell Marine Complex in Georgetown.
The trail is open to middle school and high school anglers targeting red drum and largemouth bass in separate categories.
Ashton Rouhselang and Lance Cooper of Conway Middle School claimed first place in the Red Drum Division with an aggregate of 6.61 pounds including the largest red drum at 3.82 pounds.
Wyatt Moore fished solo with his dad at the helm and finished second with an aggregate of 4.81 pounds. Noah Payne and Kadyn Kellahan of Andrews High School finished third with 4.26 pounds.
Charlie Holmes and Briggs Causey of Conway High School won first place in the Bass Division with an aggregate of 9.86 pounds.
Marshall Sasser and Kel Owens of Georgetown High School took second place, right on the heels of the winners with 9.84 pounds.
Andrew Ackerman and Jeremy Owens, also of Georgetown High School, finished third with 9.69 pounds.
St. James High School angler Andrew Vereen weighed in the lunker bass, a 3.90-pounder.
With the six SALTT events completed, the trail champions were honored.
Payne and Kellahan won the High School Redfish Division with a cumulative weight of 27.00 pounds while Rouhselang and Cooper won the Middle School Redfish Division with a weight of 28.48 pounds.
Bennett Lawshe and Matt Caines of Waccamaw High School captured the High School Bass Division with a cumulative weight of 36.24 pounds while Oliver Bomar and Conner Strickland of Georgetown Middle School won the Middle School Bass Division with 23.59 pounds.
SALTT founder and coordinator Coach Rayburn Poston is pleased with the progress of his student trail with the completion of its fourth season.
“I’m grateful to see a high retention rate each year along with the addition of new members,” said Poston. “The kids were already talking about next season.”
If you go
What: 51st annual Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament.
Where: Georgetown Landing Marina, Georgetown.
Fishing Days:Thursday through Saturday (May 24-26), scales open 5 p.m. each day, open to the public.