The crew of Blue Sky, which won the Megadock Billfishing Tournament last weekend out of Charleston City Marina, brings a blue marlin to the boat. Submitted photo
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After missing ‘hometown tournament,’ Pawleys Island fishing crew makes up for lost time
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
After a rocky start to the South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series aboard his new edition of Blue Sky, it all came together for Pawleys Island’s Greg Smith and crew last weekend at the Megadock Billfishing Tournament out of Charleston City Marina.
Smith is breaking in a 2017 60-foot Spencer yacht and had designs on fishing in four of five tournaments in the series.
Working the kinks out of the custom-built yacht caused the Blue Sky crew to miss the 50th annual Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament in May and one day of fishing in the Carolina Billfish Classic in June, the second and third events of the series.
“We’ve just been shaking out some new boat problems – they just seem to happen at the wrong time,” said Smith. “Hopefully that’s all behind us now.”
As a Georgetown County resident, missing the 50th annual Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament was a bummer for Smith.
“We’ve been in Georgetown since 2001 and that’s my hometown tournament,” said Smith, who docks the boat at Hazzard Marine in Georgetown. “That being number 50, it was pretty hard. We’ll be back there next year.”
The Blue Sky crew finally fished a complete tournament in the Megadock, releasing a total of 10 sailfish and one blue marlin in two superb days of fishing to win the fourth of five events in the Governor’s Cup series.
“We were happy to get everything behind us and get to do the whole tournament and do well,” said Blue Sky Capt. Jay Weaver, also a Pawleys Island resident. “Winning it made us all feel a lot better with the troubles we’ve had.”
Blue Sky released four sailfish and the blue marlin on the first day of fishing before releasing six sails last Friday on their second day to finish with 2,600 points, tied for most points in a series event this year.
Current Governor’s Cup leader Gryphon finished second with 2,200 points after releasing five sails and a blue marlin.
Gryphon holds a commanding series lead – 5,875 points to second-place Mister Pete’s 3,875 – heading into the series finale, the Edisto Invitational Billfish Tournament scheduled for next week (July 19-22).
Weaver is in his first year as captain of Blue Sky, after years of serving as skipper of Charleston-based Daymaker. The Governor’s Cup veteran had four naked ballyhoo on small rods for sailfish and a lure for blue marlin on an 80-pound class rod in his trolling spread.
“It was a really good sailfish bite,” said Weaver. “We fish naked ballyhoo on circle hooks. Once this time of year comes around and there are less marlin, we go to all naked.”
For more information on the tournament and the series, visit www.govcup.dnr.sc.gov.
Conway Bassmasters Tournament
Patrick Cook and Joey McLean weighed in a five-bass limit of 14.47 pounds to win the Conway Bassmasters Annual River Fest Bass Tournament last Saturday out of Bucksport Marina.
Cook and McLean, of the Hemingway area, finished atop a field of 57 teams to earn $1,400.
“We paid out just over $6,000. It was a good turnout and a good payback,” said tournament director Chris Jones.
The husband-wife team of Ricky and Karen Bellamy of Longs finished second with a five-fish limit of 13.17 pounds to win $800. The father-son team of Timmy and River Squires of Conway won third place and $600 with a five-fish limit of 12.46 pounds.
The big fish, a 5.97-pounder, was weighed in by Ryan and Wayne Marsh of Myrtle Beach, earning $300.
Anglers interested in competing in future bass tournaments out of Conway can contact Chris Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Dennis Caruso tosses a line during a recent visit to the Myrtle Beach State Park Pier. Janet Blackmon Morgan email@example.com
July 13, 2017 6:37 PM
Improved conditions lure Spanish mackerel back to the area, much to anglers’ delight
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
Look For: Flounder, spotted seatrout, black drum, red drum, sheepshead, bluefish.
Comments: Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown produced a solid catch of nine red drum on a Wednesday trip in the Winyah Bay vicinity, and one surprise – an 8.5-pound sheepshead. On Monday, it was more drum action for McDonald as his crew caught eight reds and four black drum while floating cut shrimp and finger mullet. Two of the reds were over the 15- to 23-inch slot limit, measuring 24.5 and 26 inches. On the north end, Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Charters said “it’s been a roller coaster ride of fishing this week.” Catches were slim for much of the week for Kelly, until Thursday. Kelly found good action on a rising tide in the Little River area, starting early in the day by catching spotted seatrout on top-water lures such as a Zara Spook. They switched to live shrimp on popping corks and, as Kelly said, “wore the trout out,” including a four-pounder. At high tide, Kelly switched to live bait on 1/4-ounce jig heads, jerk shad and Gulp shrimp to catch flounder and more trout. Kelly also noted large menhaden can be found for bait, and are producing bull reds at the Little River Inlet.
Look For: Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, bluefish, black sea bass, spadefish, weakfish, flounder, whiting, croaker, pompano, black drum, sheepshead and red drum.
Comments: After a long windy stretch, sea conditions improved this week along the beach and in the near-shore waters, and so did the fishing. Spanish mackerel catches have been very good, especially in the vicinity of the near-shore artificial reefs such as Paradise, Jim Caudle and Ron McManus. Megan Maples of Reel Salty Charters reports a super catch of Spanish while trolling jigfish on Thursday at Paradise Reef, located three miles east of Murrells Inlet. The Reel Salty crew kept 14 Spanish in the 15-20 inch range, plus caught a 20-plus inch weakfish and a sizable bluefish. South Carolina’s new flounder minimum size limit of 15 inches had an impact on the trip, as the crew caught as many as 10 flounder that measured over 14 inches, though all under the 15-inch mark were released. Spadefish have also made a good showing on the near-shore reefs this week. Morgan Marohl of Cherry Grove Pier reports improved action this week with catches of black drum and red drum in the morning and whiting, croaker and pompano in the afternoon. Marohl reported a water temperature of 84 degrees both on the surface and at the bottom late afternoon Thursday.
Look For: Dolphin, blackfin tuna, wahoo, sailfish, vermilion snapper, triggerfish, white grunts, red porgy, black sea bass, grouper, amberjack.
Comments: Trolling can still produce some very solid trips in the heat of summer, as Underdog out of Murrells Inlet proved earlier this week. Underdog caught a variety of species including nine blackfin tuna, a pair of dolphin, three king mackerel, a wahoo and an amberjack. There was also plenty of action from barracuda on the trip. Sailfish action is also excellent especially in the Gulf Stream, with scattered fish closer in. Bottom fishing continues to be excellent on bottom spots in depths of 90 feet and beyond. Look for plenty of action from vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, porgy, amberjack and grouper. Scamp and gag are the most common grouper species encountered. 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: The rivers are in great shape and the catches reflected it this week. Gage Fortson of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle reported a 7-pound largemouth bass was caught on a Bang-O-Lure from the Waccamaw River near Conway earlier this week. River Squires, also of Stalvey’s, reports a 40.6-pound catfish was landed near Conway Marina at the mouth of Kingston Lake. Also, Stalvey’s reported a very nice mess of bream landed from the Little Pee Dee including a big 1.3-pounder. “That was a slab,” said Fortson. Look for bream in 1-4 feet of water on the banks, hitting crickets, red worms or popping bugs.
Blue Sky, owned by Greg Smith of Pawleys Island, is the leader after two days of the Megadock Billfishing Tournament held this weekend out of Charleston City Marina. Cameron Rhodes South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series
July 07, 2017 6:37 PM
Local entry Blue Sky gets off to good start in Megadock Billfishing Tournament
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
A little field of boats found plenty of billfish action during the first two days of fishing in the Megadock Billfishing Tournament out of Charleston City Marina.
The tournament is the fourth of five legs in the 2017 South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series.
A surprisingly small field of 19 boats, perhaps due to a sporty marine forecast, released 57 sailfish and 10 blue marlin Thursday and Friday. Twelve of the boats fished both days, leaving seven boats to head out for the final day of fishing on Saturday.
In a field dominated by Charleston-area boats, a Pawleys Island/Georgetown-based entry sat atop the leaderboard after Friday’s offshore action.
Owned by Greg Smith of Pawleys Island, Blue Sky turned in two superb days of fishing to take the unofficial lead with 2,600 points.
On Thursday the Blue Sky crew released one blue marlin (600 points) and four sailfish (200 points each) to compile 1,400 points. On Friday, it was a sailfish bonanza as Blue Sky released six for 1,200 more points.
Gryphon, the Governor’s Cup leader heading into the tournament with 3,675 points, was in second place with 2,200 points. Hammertime was third with 1,800 points.
The final tournament in the series is the Edisto Invitational Billfish Tournament, set for July 19-22.
The father-son duo of Timmy and River Squires won the Carolina Anglers Team Trail (CATT) Waccamaw River Summer Qualifier No. 3 last Saturday out of Bucksport Marina.
The Squires weighed in a hefty five-bass limit of 16.72 pounds to earn over $2,100 in the tournament.
The Squires’ big fish was a 5.04-pounder which hit a floating white worm in the Kingston Lake area off the Waccamaw River in Conway said River Squires, an 18-year-old 2017 graduate of Conway High School.
Second place went to Eric Freeman and Cal Marsh with an aggregate of 13.47 pounds. Freeman caught the big fish of the tournament, a 6.20-pounder.
Ronnie Watts and Kevin Pridgen were third with 12.90 pounds followed by Lucas Williams and Charles Purvis in fourth with 12.38 pounds.
Conway Bassmasters Tournament
The Conway Bassmasters Annual River Fest Bass Tournament will be held Saturday out of Bucksport Marina.
Entry fee is $120 per two-person team, with one adult (18 years or older) required to be on each boat. Guaranteed first-place prize money is $1,400. For more information, call Chris Jones at 843-333-8010.