NOAA Fisheries announced the dates of a mini-season for red snapper in the South Atlantic Region on Friday, and recreational anglers will need to hastily plan their trips in order to harvest the species. The Sun News file photo
NOAA Fisheries announces dates for red snapper mini season
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
October 27, 2017 6:53 PM
NOAA Fisheries announced the dates of a mini-season for red snapper in the South Atlantic Region on Friday, and recreational anglers will need to hastily plan their trips in order to harvest the species.
The red snapper fishery will be open to harvest by recreational anglers for two consecutive three-day weekends – Nov. 3-5 and Nov. 10-12.
Red snapper can be harvested on those dates in federal waters (beyond three miles offshore) with a daily bag limit of one fish per person, per day. There is no minimum size limit on the red snapper harvested.
Commercial vessels can harvest up to 75 pounds (gutted weight) of red snapper per trip beginning on Nov. 2, also with no minimum size limit.
In late September, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council approved a request by NOAA Fisheries to allow the limited harvest of red snapper, with NOAA Fisheries announcing the dates of the mini-season on Friday.
During the red snapper mini-season, marine resource agency personnel from the states involved (North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida) will be conducting surveys at various locations and collecting samples from fishermen. Anglers are encouraged to cooperate with samplers and to provide carcasses for data collection.
Fishermen are also urged to use best fishing practices to minimize the number of released red snapper and help improve the likelihood that released fish will survive.
“The red snapper fishery has remained closed since 2014 because mortality estimates of the number of released fish exceeded the annual catch limit,” said Capt. Mark Brown, SAFMC Vice-Chairman and a full-time charter captain in Mt. Pleasant. “It is imperative that we use best practices. The key to having future access to red snapper lies in reducing the mortality of fish that are released.”
Upon reaching the boat’s limit of red snapper, anglers are urged to move to a different area to avoid the unnecessary catch and release of more fish.
Anglers are also advised to use single hook rigs – since the bag limit is 1 per person, as this potentially reduces the number of red snapper caught on one drop.
The use of descending devices is encouraged when releasing red snapper suffering from barotrauma.
Recreational anglers can report the details of their red snapper fishing trips via a voluntary pilot program being tested for the first time as the red snapper mini-season opens.
Anglers can visit www.MyFishCount.com, a new web portal that allows anglers to report their catches using photos to document lengths, as well as depths from which fish are caught. The portal also offers release techniques, hook type and other information. Anglers are encouraged to register online and to take photos and keep written records of the information while fishing for red snapper.
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Gaston and Tolly Hughes of Wilmington, N.C., of Team Grip Flip show off the second-place king mackerel in the Fall Brawl King Classic. Submitted photo
Wilmington brothers have breakthrough in back-to-back fishing events to remember
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
October 27, 2017 3:36 PM
Brothers Gaston and Tolly Hughes of Wilmington, N.C., and Team Grip Flip have done plenty of king mackerel fishing over the years in the waters between Little River Inlet and North Carolina’s Cape Fear, but they’ll be hard-pressed to top the back-to-back weekends they had this October.
The Hughes brothers started off by fishing in the Yellowfin/Yamaha Fall Brawl King Classic held on Oct. 14-15 out of Ocean Isle Fishing Center on Ocean Isle Beach, N.C., part of a field of 285 boats.
Austin Eubank and his crew aboard Clearly Hooked won the tournament with a 45.60-pound king, with the Hughes duo finishing a close second with a 44.0-pounder.
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A week later, on Oct. 21-22, the Hughes boated and weighed in a 47.85-pound smoker king to win the Sportsman’s Choice Contender/Yamaha Rumble in the Jungle King Mackerel Tournament out of Capt. Archie’s Bar and Grill in North Myrtle Beach over a field of 215 boats.
That’s a first-place and a runner-up finish in two major king tournaments over a span of eight days for the brothers, Gaston, age 62 and Tolly, age 63, who earned over $80,000 for the two events.
The brothers started fishing the Cape Fear vicinity as youngsters and have over 50 years fishing experience in the area, including 20 years of competitive king mackerel tournament fishing.
“We’ve been fishing a long time and that’s the first tournament we’ve won,” said Gaston Hughes. “It’s just pretty incredible, amazing, back-to-back like that.”
In the Fall Brawl, the Hughes brothers took the lead on Saturday with their 44.0-pounder but had to sit on the hill and wait while the rest of the huge field fished on Sunday. Teams were allowed to fish one of the two days.
Eubank and his Clearly Hooked crew weighed in the winning 45.60-pounder on Sunday to win the tournament, knocking the Hughes back to second place. Eubank won the Fall Brawl for the second time, having won the event in 2014 with a 39.65-pounder.
With one tournament down and one to go, the brothers didn’t want another runner-up finish.
“We’ve got three (second-place finishes),” said Gaston Hughes. “I didn’t want another second.”
After having the rug pulled out from under them on the final day of fishing in the Fall Brawl, they decided to fish on the second day of fishing – last Sunday – in the Rumble in the Jungle.
The duo headed out to the same area that produced the 44-pounder in the Fall Brawl – Lighthouse Rocks, an area located adjacent to the Cape Fear River Channel and renowned for holding big kings during the fall.
The Hughes were slow-trolling menhaden in their 23-foot Contender Tournament series center-console, powered by a single 225 Yamaha, amid numerous other boats.
“We were trolling around and the first fish we caught was the big one,” said Gaston Hughes. “It hit a menhaden on a long flat line, and made a long run. It switched directions and we thought we had lost it.”
The fish ran toward other boats, including one that was also hooked up and another that was anchored. With Tolly Hughes on the rod and Gaston Hughes at the helm, the duo made it through the gauntlet of boats.
Gaston Hughes gaffed the fish and together they pulled the huge king into the boat. This time the 47.85-pounder made it through the weigh-in and Team Grip Flip finally had its first victory.
The team is named after a de-hooking product (www.gripflip.net) that Gaston Hughes designed and patented in 2014, after his brother had gotten hooked three times while releasing king mackerel.
“I gave away (over 400) Grip Flips,” said Hughes. “Maybe the fish gods are looking out for me for doing something good for the fish. I know there’s a lot of luck in it, but if you’re where the big fish (in a tournament) is caught you’ve done a good job of fishing in the right spot.”
Bruce Martin and Donna Gurganus aboard Ante Up finished second in the Rumble in the Jungle with a 44.20-pound king. Gurganus was the angler on the fish, her largest king.
For more results from the tournaments, visit www.OIFC.com and www.rumblekmt.com.
Both tournaments were part of the inaugural Kingfish Cup series, which concluded a series of four tournaments with the Rumble in the Jungle.
The 25 teams that compiled the highest three-fish point total in the tournaments received an invitation to compete in the Kingfish Cup Championship event, which is set for Nov. 9-12 at Ocracoke Island, N.C.
Also, any team that wins first place in any of the four qualifying tournaments qualifies for the championship. Visit www.KingfishCup.com for more information.
Marlin Quay King Mackerel Shootout
Jamie and Trey Tyner aboard Steel Reelin’ claimed first place in the one-day tournament held Oct. 14 out of Marlin Quay Marina in Murrells Inlet with a 44.87-pound king.
Visit the Marlin Quay King Mackerel Shootout page on Facebook for more information on the tournament, which featured a field of 50 boats and was the final event in the Southern Kingfish Association’s Division 3 (South Carolina).
Next up on the SKA schedule is the SKA National Championship this weekend in Biloxi, Miss. For more information, visit www.fishska.com.
The final tournament on the fall schedule for the Student Angler League Tournament Trail was held on Oct. 14 in Georgetown with a record 34 boats competing.
Conway Middle School’s Ashton Rouhselang and Lance Cooper took the top honors in the Red Drum Division with 7.71 pounds. Second place went to Conway High School’s Eli Johnson with 7.21 pounds, plus the Big Fish Award of 4.38 pounds. Blake Rimmer of Andrews High School took third place with 5.45 pounds.
Marshall Sasser of Georgetown High School placed first in the Bass Division with 10.42 pounds followed by Will Hucks of Conway Christian School in second with 9.23 pounds. Hucks also won the Big Fish Award with a 3.94-pounder. Andrew Ackerman and Jeremy Owens of Georgetown High were third with 8.85 pounds.
The next SALTT event will be held Feb. 17, 2018. Students can still register for events on the SALTT trail. For more information, visit www.salttfishing.com.
Inshore Slam and Festival
This inaugural event targeting spotted seatrout, red drum and flounder will be held Nov. 4 out of Cricket Cove Marina.
The Captains Meeting is set for 6 p.m. also at Cricket Cove Marina.
The event is hosted by Little River South Carolina River Sweep, Palmetto Kids Fishing Camps and Captain Smiley Fishing Charters.
Visit www.CaptainSmileyInshoreSlam.com for more information.
Gaston and Tolly Hughes of Wilmington, N.C., of Team Grip Flip celebrate winning the Rumble in the Jungle King Mackerel Tournament on Sunday. Submitted photo
Prime time to catch and release bull red drum is here along the Carolina coast. The Sun News file photo
Inshore, offshore fishing heating up and it’s prime time to catch bull red drum
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
October 26, 2017 3:20 PM
Look For: Red drum, spotted seatrout, black drum, flounder, sheepshead, spots.
Comments: Prime time to catch and release bull red drum is here along the Carolina coast, with fish being found around area jetties, channels of inlets and on near-shore hard-bottom areas in the Atlantic Ocean. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown released six bull reds in the 40-44 inch range on Sunday, using cut mullet, while fishing the channel in Winyah Bay. Capt. Patrick Kelly of Capt. Smiley Fishing Charters has found the reds in the vicinity of the jetties and the channel of Little River Inlet this week, using live menhaden (pogeys) for bait. As McDonald said, “There’s a lot of pressure on these fish now.” Anglers are urged to catch the bull reds quickly with beefed-up tackle and release them carefully, being sure they are revived before letting them go. South Carolina’s slot limit on red drum is 15 to 23 inches. McDonald also notes he’s been catching 10-15 spotted seatrout per trip on plastic grubs with 1/8- or 1/4-ounce jig heads. Kelly has also headed for the creeks and caught trout, flounder and smaller reds, floating live shrimp for the trout and using finger mullet for reds and flounder. Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway reports spots have been hit or miss in area inlets. “I’ve been hearing of a few limits being caught, sometimes 20-30, sometimes a dozen or so,” said Stalvey of the popular panfish. “They haven’t been pushed down yet, but the ones caught are very good-sized spots.”
Look For: Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, bluefish, black sea bass, weakfish, flounder, whiting, croaker, pompano, black drum, sheepshead and red drum.
Comments: The finest pier and surf fishing the calendar year offers is here along the Grand Strand and will be in the offing through November. Whiting, croaker and spots are the main species being landed off the piers, along with pompano, flounder, blues and the occasional bull red drum. Spot action has also been hit or miss off the piers, reports Michael Wallace of Cherry Grove Pier. “We had a decent run of about 15 minutes on Tuesday,” said Wallace, “but it’s been off or on as far as the spots.” After a chilly overnight, Wallace noted a water temperature reading of 71 degrees Thursday morning at both the surface and bottom. Find a school of menhaden along the beach and look for bull reds feeding under the school, with king and Spanish mackerel also around. The near-shore hard-bottom areas are producing good catches of weakfish, black sea bass, whiting and bull reds. The artificial reefs are producing weakfish, black sea bass and flounder, with plenty of Spanish and king mackerel in the vicinity.
Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, dolphin, grouper, vermilion snapper, triggerfish, red porgy, black sea bass, amberjack.
Comments: Bottom fishing has been superb this week with tranquil seas offering boats ample opportunity to to get offshore to catch vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, porgy, grouper and amberjack. Anglers should remember 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. King mackerel action is good in depths of 50-90 feet of water. Further offshore wahoo and blackfin tuna action is good for trolling boats.