Blake Thompson and River Squires of Conway High School show off their winning fish in the bass division of last Saturday’s Student Angler League Tournament Trail (SALTT) tournament at Georgetown’s Carroll CampbellMarine Complex. Contributed photo
Windy conditions no match for determined anglers at SALTT event
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
Last Saturday dawned warm for mid-February – which has been the norm this winter – but a stiff wind greeted the anglers competing in the Student Angler League Tournament Trail (SALTT) event out of the Carroll Campbell Marine Complex in Georgetown.
Windy conditions aside, it was a record-breaking event for Coach Rayburn Poston and his trail, which features divisions for red drum and largemouth bass, with middle and high school anglers competing against each other.
“It was April conditions in February,” said Poston. “It was the most boats (26) we’ve ever had fish and the most boats we’ve ever had catch fish (15). I’m happy to see it growing.”
The majority of the anglers fishing in the Redfish Division left the Campbell Marine Complex, located on the Sampit River, and headed across Winyah Bay to fish North Inlet.
Middle school anglers finished at the top of the division, led by Ben Pardue and Charlie Holmes of Conway Middle School who brought two reds totaling six pounds to the weigh-in, including the biggest, a 4.24-pounder.
Kadyn Kellahan of Rosemary Middle School fished solo but claimed second with two reds totaling 3.77 pounds.
Henry Poston of Academy of Arts, Science and Technology and Benjamin Biddle of Blackwater Middle School teamed to finish third with two reds weighing 3.16 pounds.
Conway Middle School’s Ashton Rouhselang and Fisher Anderson took fourth place with one redfish weighing 2.12 pounds.
Bass action was better, with the anglers heading up the Waccamaw, Pee Dee or Black rivers to find their largemouth.
The Conway High School duo of Blake Thompson and River Squires claimed first place with a five-fish aggregate of 10.46 pounds. Whittemore Park Middle School’s Austin Winburn and Cooper Harrelson were second with five bass weighing 10.04 pounds.
Ben Cooper and Todd Howard of Conway High School weighed in four bass at 8.13 pounds to finish third. Conway Christian School’s Will and Trent Hucks were fourth with three bass at 5.65 pounds. Rounding out the top five were Allen and Colton Ledford of Forestbrook Middle School with three bass at 4.29 pounds.
Other anglers weighing in bass included:
▪ 6th Place: Asher Damon (Waccamaw High School) and Walker Todd (Socastee High School); three bass, 4.12 pounds.
▪ 7th Place: Mackenley Hucks (Conway High School) and Chandler Brown (Conway Middle School); two bass, 2.73 pounds.
▪ 8th Place: Gabe Brown (Aynor High School) and Stephen Smith (Academy for Technology and Academics); two bass, 1.94 pounds.
▪ 9th Place: Reid Richardson and Caleb Droll, Conway Christian School; one bass, 1.79 pounds.
▪ 10th Place: Gage Fortson and Jacob Richardson, Conway High School; one bass, 1.32 pounds.
▪ 11th Place: Bennet Lawshe, Georgetown High School; one bass, 1.23 pounds.
All fish caught during SALTT tournaments are released after the weigh-in.
The next two SALTT tournaments will be held Feb. 25 and March 11, which will conclude the series for the 2016-17 school year. All SALTT events are held out of the Campbell Marine Complex.
For more information, visit www.salttfishing.com.
Read more here: http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/sports/outdoors/article133461049.html#storylink=cpy
Members of Coastal Carolina University’s Saltwater Anglers Club show off a king mackerel caught in 2016 during the Fall Brawl King Mackerel Tournament at Ocean Isle Fishing Center. The club is hosting a fund-raising seminar on Feb. 18 on the CCU campus. Submitted photo
Proposed legislation could lead to larger flounder population in S.C. waters
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
A bump up in the size limit could be on the horizon for South Carolina’s population of flounder, and nowhere on the Palmetto State coast is flounder fishing more popular than along the Grand Strand from Georgetown to Little River.
The current minimum size limit for flounder is 14 inches, and proposed legislation calls for a 1-inch increase to 15 inches.
South Carolina House of Representatives Bill H 3665, which proposes the increase in size limit, was introduced and first read on Feb. 2 and was referred to the Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee.
In recent years, flounder in local estuaries have received unprecedented pressure from hook-and-line anglers and giggers as the coastal population has exploded.
Long-term trammel net sampling by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources in eight major estuaries along the coast, including Georgetown County’s Winyah Bay, has revealed a steady decline in the southern flounder population since 1994. Also, according to the agency, reported charter boat catch rates have declined over the same time frame.
According to Mel Bell, Director of S.C. DNR’s Office of Fisheries Management, female flounder first mature at 14 inches and begin substantially contributing to the spawn at 15 inches.
Raising the minimum size limit to 15 inches is designed to increase the number of females that successfully migrate into the ocean to spawn in late fall and winter.
“The benefit of going to 15 is allowing the females another year to mature and give them more spawning capacity,” said Bell. “Excluding the 14-inch fish, we would be reducing the (recreational) catch by 29 percent, and that should be beneficial.”
With legislation in process to increase the minimum size, some anglers question whether the current daily bag limits of 15 per person and 30 per boat should be lowered.
Bell notes that according to Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) data, the average recreational angler in South Carolina catches two flounder per trip.
“The problem with playing with the bag (limit) is, looking at the MRIP data, the average person only catches maybe two,” said Bell. “For an impactful bag limit change to help, you’d have to drop the bag significantly. You ‘d have to go lower than anybody is willing to go.”
Rep. Lee Hewitt, R-Georgetown, a member of the house’s Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee, co-signed the legislation.
Hewitt is a longtime area resident and sees the need to enhance the flounder population.
“I grew up on (Murrells Inlet), I’ve been out there since I was 10 years old, fishing, gigging and crabbing,” said Hewitt.
“(With the 14-inch minimum size limit) we’re taking fish out of the water without them having a chance to reproduce. We’re just trying to give them a chance to reproduce and produce more fish so we have more fish to catch.”
Hewitt has found the increase looks to have solid support in the House of Representatives.
“I’ve personally reached out to every House member who represents the coast seeking their support for the bill and the results have been positive,” said Hewitt.
Flounder are well-known as a meat fish, which means they make fine table fare. Bell points to this aspect of the flatfish that has contributed to the declining population.
“Over 80 percent of (red drum) are released, and some trout are released,” said Bell. “If a flounder is of legal size, it’s going into the cooler and going home. That’s one of the problems they have, they’re too popular and they’re so good to eat.”
Red Drum Report
According to a news release from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, the 2017 Red Drum Stock Assessment and Peer Review Report indicate overfishing is not occurring for red drum in either the northern or southern stocks.
The northern stock includes fish from North Carolina to New Jersey, while the southern stock includes fish from South Carolina to Florida.
The ASMFC accepted the stock assessment and report for management use, but no management action was taken since overfishing is not occurring.
Coastal Carolina University’s Saltwater Angler Club is staging its 8th annual Spring Fundraising Seminar on February 18 at Brittain Hall on the CCU campus in Conway.
The event features five 50-minute seminars, each with a 10-minute break.
“The seminar is a good way to give back to the community and provides fundraising for the club as well,” said Club President James Coleman. “It teaches people things they may not know about fishing. It helps allow us to go on trips and that’s one of our main goals in the club is to get Coastal students out fishing.”
Tickets are $15 for the public, and $10 for any students. Doors open at 9:30 a.m. with the first seminar beginning at 10 a.m. Breakfast and lunch will be served.
Seminar details follow:
▪ King Mackerel Fishing, Capt. Jodie Gay of Bluewater Candy.
▪ Offshore Bottom Fishing, Capt. Keith Logan of North Myrtle Beach Fishing Charters.
▪ Trout, Drum, Flounder Fishing, Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters.
▪ Offshore Trolling, Capt. Shawn Thomas of Underdog.
▪ GPS Systems, Capt. David Cutler of Low Country Fishing Charters.
Brittain Hall is located at 23 Chanticleer Drive, Conway, SC, 29526. For more information, contact Coleman at email@example.com.
This giant bluefin tuna was landed off the Carolinas coast on Dec. 16, 2015. The Sun News file photo
BY GREGG HOLSHOUSER
For The Sun News
Earlier this week, bluefin tuna moved into the area off Wilmington, N.C., area beaches, specifically off Kure Beach and Carolina Beach southward toward Frying Pan Shoals.
The bluefin tuna season opened on Jan. 1 and anglers began catching them farther north, out of Morehead City, N.C. But late last weekend, the giant tuna moved south and within reach of boats fishing out of Brunswick County.
Capt. Brant McMullan of Ocean Isle Fishing Center in Ocean Isle Beach, N.C., reports approximately 15 fish were caught in the vicinity and more than 30 hooked up from Sunday through Wednesday.
“There have been some really big ones, up to 106 inches,” said McMullan, who noted some of the fish have been brought in to Southport. “(The bluefin bite) has been super slow for the last three to four years but this is breathing a little bit of life back into it.”
The tuna have been found around right whales that are migrating through the area, and feeding on schools of menhaden.
“If you’re looking for anything to find the fish it would be whales,” said McMullan. “The formula is find the whales, which means bait and birds, gannets, are around.”
The fish have been found very close to the beach, some within a half-mile offshore in only 25-35 feet of water, as anglers trolled horse ballyhoo to catch them. The bite slowed a bit on Thursday, but boats continued to search for the monster tuna on Friday.
“(Thursday) everything disappeared,” said McMullan. “They’re still somewhere, we’ve got to figure out where they went. We all were fishing the same area but now we’ve got to start looking around.”