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Local fishing community suffers another loss

July 7, 2018 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Local fishing community suffers another loss

Phil Conklin culminated a long fishing career as owner/operator of Seven Seas Seafood in Murrells Inlet. Conklin passed away at age 71 on June 13. Submitted photo
Outdoors
Murrells Inlet fishing community celebrates life of pioneer who passed unexpectedly

By Gregg Holshouser

For The Sun News

July 06, 2018 03:26 PM

Updated July 06, 2018 04:30 PM

The fishing village of Murrells Inlet recently lost a true pioneer with the death of Phil Conklin, a fisherman extraordinaire and longtime owner of Seven Seas Seafood, located right on U.S. 17 Business in the inlet.

Conklin passed away unexpectedly from natural causes on June 13 at the age of 71. Five days later a crowd of about 300 family and friends, including a who’s who in the Murrells Inlet fishing and restaurant industries, celebrated his life at Creek Ratz on the inlet’s Marshwalk.

The Celebration of Life was indeed a party, complete with an open bar for attendees, per Phil Conklin’s request. His son, Chris Conklin, found a note hand-written by his dad among his closing documents that read “Don’t grieve, have a party. Bye.”

“Anybody that knew my dad knew it was his way or the highway,” said Chris Conklin, now the owner-operator of Seven Seas Seafood.
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In fact, the Frank Sinatra classic, My Way,” was played at the celebration before family friend Benjamin Pratt read “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, both requests of Conklin.

Conklin was born in Louisville, Ky., but his family moved to Hollywood, Fla., when he was a small child in 1950. After doing plenty of fishing in the Miami area as a teenager working on charter boats, he served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War, and was stationed in Key West.

During a Navy-related visit to Charleston, he had a little free time on his hands with his Navy buddies.

“My dad and a few sailors came through Murrells Inlet on the way to Myrtle Beach,” said Chris Conklin. “He decided right then he wanted to be here one day.”

But first, after finishing his stint in the Navy, Conklin fully immersed himself in the Miami fishing scene, becoming fishing buddies with well-known anglers such as Capt. Bouncer Smith. After several years of bouncing around South Florida and the Bahamas and adding to his fishing knowledge, Conklin made his way to Murrells Inlet.

After his arrival in 1976, Conklin dabbled in all sorts of fishing in the area, working on a boat for the late Wallace Pate, a South Carolina billfishing pioneer in Georgetown, and the late Nelson Jackson, founder of Ocean Lakes Campground.

Soon, Conklin turned to commercial fishing, opening a seafood cooperative in the early 1990s in the inlet near the present day location of Inlet Affairs, a catering business.

The co-op provided fresh fish to inlet restaurants and also shipped it to areas in the northeast. In 1997, Conklin took over Seven Seas Seafood at its present location in the inlet.

“Dad’s dream in his life was to have a seafood market, and he sure did that,” said Conklin. “When it burned down in 2008, he had always been like a rock and didn’t show much emotion, but that devastated him right there. I had just gotten out of college and the same week I graduated it burned. He didn’t ask me if I wanted to help, I knew that’s what I needed to do.”

The Conklins rolled up their sleeves, got to work rebuilding the Seven Seas facility and soon were back in the fishing business.

Conklin had some memorable fishing escapades.

In October 1991, Conklin and one crew member were caught offshore during the renowned storm that was the impetus for the book/movie, “Perfect Storm,” causing the boat and crew of the Andrea Gail out of Gloucester, Mass., to be lost at sea.

Conklin and his cohort made it safely back in to port but only after a harrowing 26-hour experience with 20-plus-foot seas.

Conklin stepped out of the commercial fishing realm to fish in the 2002 Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament, and he was among the crew that won the tournament aboard Overspray.

Chris Conklin recently perused his dad’s numbers books, detailing bottom spots where he caught reef fish such as black sea bass and various snapper and grouper, along with pelagic species such as king mackerel, cobia, dolphin, wahoo and tuna over the years.

“I got all his old numbers books – they look like treasure maps,” said Chris Conklin. “Hundreds of pages of numbers. It’s cool to look at the notes of where he caught what.”

From the early 1990s to 2015, Conklin served on the mackerel advisory panel and the snapper-grouper advisory panel for the South Atlantic Fishery Management Commission.

Conklin worked hard, then played hard. By the time 5 p.m. rolled around, if he was on the hill, he could be found enjoying happy hour at marinas and restaurants/bars along the Murrells Inlet waterfront. Inlet Port Marina, which transformed into Voyagers View Marina (both on the present site of Marshview Seafood Kitchen & Bar), the Side Porch Bar at Sunnyside Restaurant (the present site of Prosser’s BBQ), and Creek Ratz, were some of his favorite hangouts over the years.

“(At 5 p.m.), it was time to go be social,” said Chris Conklin. “He made a lot of lifelong customers like that. The inlet sure has changed a lot, but he sure loved it.”
Lowcountry Open

The crew of Molar Man out of Marlin Quay Marina weighed in a 37.6-pound king mackerel to finish third in the Southern Kingfish Association-sanctioned tournament Saturday based out of City Marina in Charleston.

Pole Dancer caught the winning 42.7-pound king, finishing ahead of Mas Pescado in second place with a 40.7-pounder.

The crew of Molar Man, a 42-foot Yellowfin, headed out of Marlin Quay Marina with marina owner Mark Lawhon and his son Chris Lawhon aboard.

Chris Lawhon noted seas were “slick calm” and the crew hit numerous spots.

“It was kind of slow except when we got into the major bite around lunchtime,” said Chris Lawhon, who said the king was caught in about 100 feet of water southeast of Murrells Inlet near the break.

The fish hit a dead cigar minnow and Capt. Alex Hrycak, who operates the Marlin Quay charter boat, Carolina Fly, served as the angler.

Also among the crew were mate Brenden Kowalewski and Trey Tyner.

“It was a fun day, we had a good time and hit a bunch of different spots,” Chris Lawhon said.

The tournament was the first in SKA’s Division 3 (South Carolina). The final tournament in the division will be hosted by the Lawhons at Marlin Quay Marina on Sept. 8 with the Marlin Quay King Mackerel Shootout.

Phil Conklin and his son, Chris Conklin, show off a king mackerel. Phil `Conklin passed away at age 71 on June 13. Submitted photo

Local crew scores in Charleston

July 7, 2018 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Local crew scores in Charleston

The crew of Molar Man show off a 37.6-pound king mackerel which earned them third place in the SKA-sanctioned Lowcountry Open Saturday out of City Marina in Charleston. Submitted photo
Outdoors
How a local fishing crew reached the podium in an SKA-sanctioned event in Charleston

By Gregg Holshouser

For The Sun News

July 06, 2018 04:29 PM

Updated July 06, 2018 04:30 PM

The crew of Molar Man out of Marlin Quay Marina weighed in a 37.6-pound king mackerel to finish third in the Southern Kingfish Association-sanctioned tournament Saturday based out of City Marina in Charleston.

Pole Dancer caught the winning 42.7-pound king, finishing ahead of Mas Pescado in second place with a 40.7-pounder.

The crew of Molar Man, a 42-foot Yellowfin, headed out of Marlin Quay Marina with marina owner Mark Lawhon and his son Chris Lawhon aboard.

Chris Lawhon noted seas were “slick calm” and the crew hit numerous spots.
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“It was kind of slow except when we got into the major bite around lunchtime,” said Chris Lawhon, who said the king was caught in about 100 feet of water southeast of Murrells Inlet near the break.

The fish hit a dead cigar minnow and Capt. Alex Hrycak, who operates the Marlin Quay charter boat, Carolina Fly, served as the angler.

Also among the crew were mate Brenden Kowalewski and Trey Tyner.

“It was a fun day, we had a good time and hit a bunch of different spots.

The tournament was the first in SKA’s Division 3 (South Carolina). The final tournament in the division will be hosted by the Lawhons at Marlin Quay Marina on Sept. 8 with the Marlin Quay King Mackerel Shootout.

Action is hot, and so is the weather

July 6, 2018 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Action is hot, and so is the weather


Capt. Danny Carey of CareyOn Charters (left) and Jim Eckstein of Orangeburg show off a king mackerel approaching the 50-pound range caught on a charter trip Tuesday.
Outdoors
Grand Strand Fishing Report: Action continues to be good, despite heat

By Gregg Holshouser

For The Sun News

July 05, 2018 06:05 PM

Updated July 05, 2018 07:38 PM
Estuary

Look For: Flounder, black drum, red drum, spotted seatrout, sheepshead, ladyfish, bluefish, tarpon.

Comments: Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service had a varied trip on Tuesday in the Winyah Bay area. McDonald’s crew caught two red drum, one spotted seatrout, eight flounder and one huge whiting. McDonald said the whiting weighed at least three pounds on his Boca Grip, but the fish was cleaned for table fare before McDonald realized the South Carolina state record is 2 pounds, 12 ounces for a fish also caught in Georgetown in 1976. McDonald, who noted a water temperature of 85 degrees, used finger mullet to catch all the fish. Expect to begin seeing tarpon in estuaries from Winyah Bay and points south. On the north end, fishing is good, especially for early July. “As hot as it is, the fishing’s been excellent,” said Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters. “There’s a lot of life out there now. We’ve got good redfishing going on. There’s a good stock of fish in the water.” Kelly reports live shrimp have been his bait of choice and he has presented them on a 1/4 ounce jig head to produce reds, black drum, spotted seatrout and flounder.
Inshore

Look For: King mackerel, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, spadefish, black sea bass, flounder, weakfish, whiting, croaker, pompano, black drum.

Comments: Water conditions continue to be superb from the beach to 20 miles out, and the catches reflect it. “The kings are still biting pretty good between 10 and 20 miles out,” said Capt. Danny Carey of CareyOn Charters. “We’ve also caught (dolphin) out there. For the Dog Days of Summer, it’s still going pretty good.” With an east to south wind pushing pretty water up to near the beach, kings have been caught consistently even at near-shore artificial reefs such as Paradise Reef, located three miles east of Murrells Inlet. Plenty of Spanish mackerel are also in the mix, especially around the artificial reefs, live-bottom areas and near inlet passes. Spadefish are also hanging on the artificial reefs. From Grand Strand piers, look for whiting, croaker, red drum, black drum, flounder, spadefish, Spanish and bluefish. Richard O’Leary of 14th Ave. Pier reports keeper flounder to 18 inches have been caught this week along with whiting and spadefish.

Offshore

Look For: Dolphin, blackfin tuna, wahoo, blue marlin, sailfish, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grunts, porgy, amberjack, grouper.

Comments: Carey produced a monster king on an all-day trip Tuesday in depths of 80-100 feet. Carey’s crew caught the king that appeared to approach 50 pounds, plus dolphin and barracuda on the trip, with a dozen kings also caught and released. The occasional sailfish can also show up in a trolling spread in the same depths. Farther out near the break, add plenty of blackfin tuna and a few wahoo to the mix. Bottom fishing is producing vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, porgy, grunts, grouper and amberjack, with best action in depths over 100 feet. Red snapper are plentiful on many spots in 80 feet of water and deeper. However, red snapper cannot be harvested and must be released in the South Atlantic region.
Freshwater

Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.

Comments: Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway says fishing action on local rivers is hot, just like the weather. Stalvey say in particular bream action is excellent, with fish hitting crickets, worms and wax worms fished in depths of 1 to 4 feet. “I’ve seen limits of bream all day today,” said Stalvey on Thursday. Catfish catches continue to be very good with fish hitting bream, fresh cut eel or fresh cut shad or mullet. For bass, try plastic worms, trick worms, brush hogs, Senkos and top-water frogs.