This wahoo fishing series is riding current into Grand Strand waters
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
March 02, 2018 04:21 PM
Updated March 02, 2018 04:21 PM
Under the guidance of series founder and director, Marc Pincus, the South Carolina Wahoo Series continues to expand northward along the Palmetto State coast.
The original series in 2012 was a small event in the Hilton Head Island area.
But by 2016 the series featured a field of 60 boats, and Pincus noted half of those hailed from Edisto Island and points north.
For the 2017 series, Pincus added a weigh-in station at Toler’s Cove Marina in Mt. Pleasant and the field ballooned to 111 boats.
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Before the 2018 series kicked off in February, more expansion was in the works with a weigh-in station added at Georgetown Landing Marina in an effort to entice more anglers from ports such as Murrells Inlet and Little River to compete in the series targeting the big speed demons of the mackerel family.
The result is the largest field yet – 118 boats – for the 7th annual series, which kicked off on Feb. 2 and runs through April 15.
“I wanted to figure out a way to sustain 100 boats in the series,” said Pincus. “Georgetown is super excited to have it. It’s unique the way this thing has grown.”
As winter morphs into spring along the South Carolina coast, cold fronts ushered in by vicious winds are a fact of life in the offshore fishing community. Take this weekend for instance.
The tournament format gives competing boats ample opportunity – well over two months – to find two suitable fishing days, and weigh in one wahoo per day.
The heaviest cumulative weight of two wahoo determines the winner.
Thus far, five boats have claimed a fishing day, with four wahoo being weighed in, two at Georgetown Landing.
The biggest day was a week ago, on Friday, Feb. 23, when four boats fished and three wahoo were weighed in.
Nat Finley’s crew aboard Boogie Man out of Beaufort has the early lead with a 61.2-pounder.
Jay Blakeley’s crew out of Andrews, fishing aboard Margaritaville, is in second place with a 58.9-pounder weighed in at Georgetown Landing. The third fish weighed on Feb. 23 was a 32.6-pounder caught by Sea Daze of Charleston.
The crew of No Pity was the lone boat to fish on Wednesday, a day before the full moon. Capt. Devin Shirkey along with Dewey Brunson and Rodney Myers headed out on a 27 Onslow Bay to fish the Winyah Scarp.
Shirkey and crew finished with two wahoo on the day, the largest a 33.8-pounder. They came home a bit disappointed after losing a wahoo estimated by Shirkey to be in the 60-pound range at the back of the boat.
The 33.8-pounder, weighed in Thursday, left No Pity currently in third place with plenty of fishing left in the series.
The same cold front that has made it a tough weekend for offshore fishing has caused a postponement in the Student Angler League Tournament Trail.
The second event of the spring was scheduled for Saturday at the Carroll Ashemore Campbell Marine Complex in Georgetown but the forecast for high winds caused trail coordinator and founder Rayburn Poston to postpone the event.
The next two events in the series will now be held April 14 and May 5. For more information on the tournament trail for middle and high school anglers, visit www.SALTTfishing.com.
Nat Finley and crew aboard Boogie Man out of Beaufort has the early lead in the South Carolina Wahoo Series with a 61.2-pounder caught on Feb.23. Submitted photo
Despite temperature fluctuations, red drum plentiful, bottom fishing solid offshore
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
March 01, 2018 06:53 PM
Updated 9 hours 49 minutes ago
Look For: Red drum, black drum, spotted seatrout, flounder, sheepshead, tautog.Comments: Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service and his daughter, Amy McDonald, headed south of Georgetown in search of red drum on a four-hour trip Wednesday. The duo floated what McDonald called “stinky shrimp,” also known as cut shrimp, to catch a total of 31 reds. The reds were mostly within South Carolina’s 15- to 23-inch slot, ranging in size from 16 to 24 inches. “These fish were grouped up, we caught them in three different places,” said McDonald, who noted a water temperature of 66-67 degrees. On the north end, Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters also found redfish receptive. On a Wednesday trip, Kelly caught a dozen reds measuring from 17 to 27 inches while fishing “super shallow” water, targeting three-foot-deep potholes in the marsh creeks. Kelly used mud minnows and Berkeley Gulp shrimp on 1/4-ounce jig heads to catch the reds. Kelly also landed an 18-inch trout on a Vudu shrimp on a dropoff along a grass bank. Kelly noted a water temperature ranging from the upper 50s to lower 60s. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources is asking anglers to practice catch and release of all spotted seatrout through the end of September. In North Carolina waters, spotted seatrout are closed to harvest for all fishermen, recreational and commercial, until June 15.
Look For: Sheepshead, black sea bass, black drum, tautog, weakfish, flounder, whiting, bluefish, croaker.Comments: The quick rise in water temperature over the past few weeks had settled in to a reading of 58 degrees on the surface and bottom at Cherry Grove Pier on Thursday afternoon. Ronnie Goodwin of the pier reports whiting and croaker are providing some action. “They’re catching a little whiting here and there and some croaker,” said Goodwin. The best action on the inshore waters continues to be provided by sheepshead on the near-shore reefs. Anglers are reminded there is a daily bag limit of 10 sheepshead per person, a boat limit of 30 per day and a minimum size limit of 14 inches (total length). Also look for black sea bass (13-inch minimum size limit), weakfish, tautog and flounder on the reefs.
Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, king mackerel, grouper, vermilion snapper, triggerfish, porgy, black sea bass, grunts.Comments: Overall, it’s been a windy, rough week in the offshore waters, but the No Pity out of Little River led by Capt. Devin Shirkey saw a window of opportunity around a full moon Wednesday and burned a day in the ongoing 2018 South Carolina Wahoo Series. Shirkey and crew put a 33.8-pound wahoo and a blackfin tuna in the box and lost a large wahoo on the trip. Trolling action for wahoo and blackfin tuna can be superb in March, with the springtime push of dolphin still about a month away. Bottom fishing is excellent, with black sea bass, grey triggerfish, vermilion snapper, red porgy, amberjack and white grunts, among other species being caught. The Greater amberjack fishery re-opened for recreational anglers on March 1. The annual Shallow-Water Grouper Spawning Season Closure is in effect through April 30 and red snapper are closed indefinitely in the South Atlantic region and must be released.
Look For: Bream, crappie, bass, catfish.Comments: Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway personally saw a sign of spring on the Waccamaw River last Sunday, observing a water temperature of 70 degrees at Osprey Marina. After a frigid January and a warm February, the fish aren’t sure what’s up. “Them fish, they’re scratching their heads, they’re lost,” said Stalvey. Although the rivers are high, Stalvey still suggests to fish off the banks, except for catfish. “The catfish are in the woods feeding on crawfish,” said Stalvey. “The water’s in the woods but don’t hesitate to fish deeper, at the edge of the woods and further out,” Stalvey said. “Bream are hitting crickets on throw lines 3-4 feet deep on the ICW and the Waccamaw.” Stalvey has also seen good catches of crappie on small shiners. Catfish action has also been good, on cut shad and large shiners. “I’ve seen some nice catfish, many between 20 and 40 pounds, most caught on bush hooks,” said Stalvey. Bass are also confused considering the water temperature and the calendar. “The water temperature is right for the spawn, but the time of year is not,” Stalvey said.
How these student anglers overcame obstacles to win big in SALTT event
By Gregg Holshouser For The Sun News
February 23, 2018 04:59 PM
Updated February 23, 2018 05:00 PM
The Student Angler League Tournament Trail embarked on the new semester with the first of three events on the Spring Trail of the series last Saturday.
The trail, dubbed the SALTT by founder and operator Coach Rayburn Poston, is open to middle and high school anglers targeting red drum and largemouth bass in separate categories.
All SALTT events, including the three earlier this school year in fall of 2017, are held out of the Carroll Ashmore Campbell Marine Complex, located on U.S. 17 on the Sampit River in Georgetown.
But with a stiff wind on the heels of a cold front forecast for late morning, Poston decided to make the event a trailer tournament. In short, the 30-plus competing teams could trailer their boats to launch at area public boat ramps in order to shorten running time to reach their desired fishing spots.
Along with the windy conditions, the student anglers had to contend with nearly a 20-degree temperature drop thanks to the cold front, going from a high in the low 80s a day earlier to a high in the mid 60s the day of the event.
Still, plenty of solid bags of fish were weighed in. Of course, all fish weighed in during SALTT events are released.
“I was proud, our kids beat the odds,” said Poston.
In the end, the two division winners launched from the Campbell Complex on the Sampit.
The team of sisters Hailey and Christy Edmonds of Carolina Forest High School were the big winners in the Red Drum Division, with an aggregate of 5.72 pounds including the biggest red, a 3.83-pounder.
“They caught fish all day, they caught over a dozen reds,” Poston said of the Edmonds, who fished North Inlet. “Some people couldn’t buy a bite.”
Noah Payne and Kadyn Kellahan of Andrews High School finished second with a 3.14-pound aggregate, followed by Ashton Rouhselang and Lance Cooper with 2.69 pounds.
Through the first four events of the 2017-18 SALTT series, Payne and Kellahan lead the High School Red Drum Division with a total weight of 26.56 pounds, followed by the Edmonds duo with 23.22 pounds.
“I’m excited for the girls, they’re really pushing those boys hard,” said Poston.
In the bass division, the Conway High School team of Noah Jones and Manning Feldner finished first with an aggregate of 9.95 pounds, followed by Blake Thompson of Conway and Gave Brown of Aynor with 9.21 pounds.
Andrew Ackerman and Jeremy Owens of Georgetown High School were third with 8.53 pounds. Andrew Vereen of St. James High School weighed in the lunker bass, a 3.69-pounder.
Ackerman and Owens lead the High School Bass Division through four events with 29.77 pounds. Rouhselang and Cooper lead the Middle School Red Drum Division with 21.59 pounds. The team of Martin and Hanna lead the Middle School Bass Division with 20.50 pounds.
The final two SALTT events of the 2017-18 trail are scheduled for March 3 and April 14.
For more information on competing in SALTT events, visit www.SALTTfishing.com.
Red Drum Bill
The bill with designs on reducing the daily bag limit of red drum and instituting a first-time boat limit on the species passed the South Carolina Senate by a 40-0 vote and was sent to the House of Representatives on Feb. 14.
If approved, the bill would:
Reduce the daily bag limit for red drum from three per person to two person.
Institute a boat limit of six red drum per day. South Carolina has never had a boat limit on red drum.
The current size slot limit of 15 to 23 inches for red drum would remain the same.
Scott Whitaker, Executive Director of Coastal Conservation Association South Carolina, expects the bill to be reviewed by the House’s Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee on Tuesday.
“It’s moving along real good,” said Whitaker. “We’ve done our homework in the house, and I don’t see any opposition to it whatsoever.”