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Last weekend for mini season on red snapper

November 11, 2017 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Last weekend for mini season on red snapper

Capt. Jay Sconyers, Grant Stadler and Amy Armstrong Stadler show off a red snapper in the 20-pound range caught on Nov. 3. Submitted photo
Red snapper highlight catch during mini-season

By Gregg Holshouser

For The Sun News

November 10, 2017 6:31 PM

There was a light north-northwesterly breeze blowing at 7:40 a.m. when Capt. Jay Sconyers of Aces Up Fishing pulled his 33-foot Hydra-Sports center console away from the public boat ramp in Murrells Inlet.

The calendar ready Nov. 3, and the occasion was the opening day of the 2017 red snapper mini-season in the South Atlantic region.

The season consists of two consecutive three-day weekends (Friday through Sunday, Nov. 3-5 and Nov. 10-12) with recreational anglers allowed to keep one red snapper per person per day, with no minimum size limit.

While this was a 3/4-day bottom-fishing trip in general, red snapper was the specific target for the group of five anglers, including Amy Armstrong Stadler and her son Grant Stadler of Garden City Beach, Scott Brown and Wick Fisher of Murrells Inlet, and myself.

Sconyers wanted live bait to drop down to the snapper, so after leaving the ramp he pulled up to an adjacent dock and broke out some fresh shrimp heads.

The captain dropped the shrimp heads around the pilings adjacent to the dock, waited about five minutes and then proceeded to cast-net pinfish and spots in the 3-5 inch range.

With at least 50 perfect baits swimming in the live well, Sconyers was ready to head offshore.

“I’m glad I saved those heads,” Sconyers said with a grin.

At 7:55 a.m. Sconyers zoomed past the Murrells Inlet sea buoy and headed in a south-southeasterly direction at 35 knots, with the wind at his back.

Sconyers’ plan was to fish ledges and rock piles in depths of 95 feet of water, and deeper, spots where he has caught, and released, red snapper in recent years.

About 9 a.m. and amid a much rougher sea, Sconyers arrived at his first spot and deployed the live bait on two Avet 80w reels on bent butt rods, one on each side at the middle of the boat.

As we all kept a wary eye on the two big rods, we dropped down assorted cut squid and cut bait on two hook rigs, on Shimano Torium 30 reels loaded with 65-pound test braid, on jigging rods.

The bites came quick and often on the two-hook rigs with plenty of vermilion snapper coming over the gunwale, most hovering right around the 12-inch minimum size limit.

A large grey triggerfish, which hit a piece of cut bait, was the top catch on that spot, but the bite tapered off, and Sconyers decided to make a move to a spot in a little deeper water, right at 100 feet.

This rock pile produced a little more variety, with vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, large white grunts and a few huge jolthead porgy among the catch.

After a while, the tip of one of the big rods began bouncing and I cranked up what we were looking for, a red snapper in the 6-7 pound range.

Finally, after so many releases, Sconyers was going to be able to harvest a red snapper.

We had many more big bites on the big rods, but instead of the red snapper or grouper we were hoping for, marauding greater amberjack in the 20- 40 pound range were nailing the live baits.

Alas, the greater amberjack had been closed to harvest three days earlier, on Halloween.

At one point, Brown was battling the largest amberjack of the day, estimated at over 40 pounds, on the big rod on the starboard side of the boat, when something hit the big rod on the port side.

While Sconyers dealt with Brown’s amberjack, Grant Stadler, a 2017 St. James High School graduate and freshman at the College of Charleston, began cranking up the fish on the other side of the boat.

Suddenly a commotion arose from the Stadlers as they realized Grant wasn’t cranking up any amberjack.

“It’s a genuine!” Grant exclaimed.

Sconyers dropped dealing with Brown’s amberjack and frantically rushed over just in time to see a genuine red snapper in the 20-pound range pop to the surface.

Sconyers gaffed the brilliant red snapper and pulled it over the gunwale. The day maker was on the deck, and it was whooping, hollering and high fives all around for the crew.

In a total of three spots, Sconyers had put us on plenty of fish, including the two red snapper, three almaco jacks and an amazing variety of reef species in the snapper-grouper complex.

From 38 miles offshore, Sconyers headed back into the teeth of a 10-15 knot north-northwest wind and a rough ocean, but once we were 20 out the seas began to calm.

At the 10-12 mile mark the wind had dwindled and the seas turned smooth with only one-foot rollers, making for a very comfortable ride to finish a spectacular day.


In 2009, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) determined the South Atlantic stock of red snapper was overfished and undergoing overfishing, and the fishery was closed in 2010 with a 35-year rebuilding plan put in place.

Other than mini-seasons allowed in 2012 through 2014 and the current mini-season, the red snapper fishery has been closed ever since and only the fish that have not survived the release process, known as dead discards, have been removed from the population during the eight-year period.

On the first weekend of fishing, opening day was the only decent day for anglers to get offshore. This weekend looks like a total blowout, as a Gale Warning was in effect for the offshore waters on Friday and very rough seas forecast through Sunday, when the fishery was set to close again.

Anglers participating in the red snapper mini-season are urged to report detailed information of their catches at, a voluntary recreational reporting program being developed by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) in collaboration with the Snook and Gamefish Foundation and Elemental Methods.

The site uses an online web portal that allows recreational fishermen to report their red snapper fishing activities, including the length of the fish kept and of those released, catch location, depth fished, hook type, hooking location, release treatment, and reason for release.

Fishermen may also report trips that are scheduled and not taken for various reasons, including weather. This pilot will only be available during the red snapper mini-season. Afterward, the site will be revamped based on suggestions from participating fishermen.

As of Wednesday, a total of 82 fishermen had signed up for the pilot program and 80 trips had been reported through the South Atlantic region from North Carolina through Florida.

With the cold fronts of autumn limiting the number of trips anglers can make during this mini-season, fishermen can also report weather cancellations.

The SAFMC cannot set or change fishing dates, as that authority goes to NOAA Fisheries and the Secretary of Commerce.

However, information on abandoned trips due to weather conditions could be helpful to the SAFMC when proposing future management decisions.

Information provided at will be provided to NOAA Fisheries by Wednesday, Nov. 15 following the end of the mini-season.

New aluminum tables in stock

November 10, 2017 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on New aluminum tables in stock

We just received an interesting addition to your great outdoors.  We now have aluminum tables displaying sea scenes in the center.  We have a variety of sizes and shapes, each with a different form of sea life displayed.  Beautiful, and functional, these tables are sure to be a distinctive feature of your living space.  #livegreatoutdoors

Rough weather makes fishing tough

November 10, 2017 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Rough weather makes fishing tough

Rough seas will mean very little, if any, fishing in the offshore waters. By the time the seas calm back down, the red snapper mini-season will be over and the species will be off-limits indefinitely. Contributed photo
Anglers waiting it out as cold front, rough seas make fishing difficult

By Gregg Holshouser

For The Sun News

November 09, 2017 10:03 PM

Look For: Red drum, spotted seatrout, black drum, flounder, sheepshead, spots.

Comments: If the fish weighed in during the inaugural Inshore Slam and Festival last Saturday out of Cricket Cove Marina is any indication, fishing in local inlets, sounds, bays and creeks is excellent. Clay Morphus was the big winner in the 46-boat field, claiming the aggregate category of largest redfish, trout and flounder with 12.56 pounds. Morphus also weighed in the largest spotted seatrout, a 4.74-pounder. Capt. Curtis Smith of Carolina Girl weighed in the largest redfish, a 5.41-pounder while Dean Spatholt of Fishmeister weighed in the largest flounder, a 5.41-pounder. In particular, trout fishing has been excellent in local estuaries. “It seems like (trout fishing) is in full swing,” said Capt. Patrick Kelly of Capt. Smiley Fishing Charters, one of the sponsors of the tournament. “Floating live shrimp is the preferred method, and Vudu shrimp are working also.” Ronald ‘Catfish’ Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway reports catches of spots was excellent in Murrells Inlet Monday through Wednesday. Bull reds can be found at area jetties and along the channels of inlets such as Little River Inlet and Winyah Bay, along with near-shore hard-bottom spots in the Atlantic. Anglers are urged to catch these fish quickly with beefed up tackle and release them carefully, being sure they are revived before letting them go.

Look For: King mackerel, bluefish, black sea bass, weakfish, flounder, whiting, croaker, pompano, black drum, sheepshead and red drum.

Comments: All was lovely early this week until the cold front roared into the area on Wednesday, putting a chill on fishing activity. Prior to the front, king mackerel action was excellent in mid-range areas such as Belky Bear and The Jungle. The ocean water temperature was still in the upper 60s on Thursday afternoon, so the kings should still be around when conditions stabilize late in the weekend. The near-shore hard-bottom areas should continue to produce weakfish, black sea bass, whiting and bull reds, plus a few flounder. Look for black sea bass, weakfish, flounder and tautog at the near-shore artificial reefs. Scott Skrzydlinski of the Cherry Grove Pier reports whiting, croaker, red drum, black drum and a few spots have been caught this week. The ocean water temperature topped out at 71 degrees on Tuesday, but by 5 p.m. Thursday afternoon had dropped to 67 degrees, surface and bottom.

Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, dolphin, grouper, red snapper, amberjack, vermilion snapper, triggerfish, red porgy, black sea bass.

Comments: We are right in the middle of the red snapper mini-season, consisting of three days of fishing for two consecutive weekends, Friday through Sunday. Last weekend, Friday (Nov. 3) easily offered the best sea conditions, and numerous boats made it out to ledges in 90-plus feet of water to try to catch a genuine red snapper, as they’re called locally. Most boats were able to harvest at least one, including some big sows in the 15-25 pound range. The limit is one red snapper per person per day with no minimum size limit, but they appear to be off the hook this weekend, Friday through Sunday, thanks to the cold front. Rough seas will mean very little, if any, fishing in the offshore waters. By the time the seas calm back down, the red snapper mini-season will be over and the species will be off-limits indefinitely. When sea conditions permit, bottom fishing is excellent for red snapper, amberjack, grouper, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, porgy and white grunts. Greater amberjack was closed to harvest for recreational anglers on Oct. 31 and will remained closed until March 2018. Also, cobia cannot be harvested in 2017 in South Carolina waters (to three miles offshore) or federal waters (beyond three miles) and must be released. Before the cold front arrived on Wednesday, trolling was excellent for wahoo, with blackfin tuna also available.

Look For: Bream, catfish, bass, crappie.

Comments: “Prior to today, it’s been very good,” ‘Catfish’ Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle said on a rainy Thursday afternoon. With autumn arriving in earnest, the crappie bite has turned on nicely. “I’d target creeks, lakes, lay downs, with some type of structure they like to school up around,” said Stalvey, who said crappie are hitting medium crappie minnows and jigs. Bream are hitting floated crickets and worms (throw lines) and worms bumped along the bottom (lead lines) in 3-6 feet of water. Stalvey noted it took a five-fish limit of over 15 pounds to win a local bass tournament over the past week. Stalvey reports bass are hitting jerk baits, crank baits and Texas-rigged worms. Catfish are hitting eels, bream and any cut bait, including mullet.