‘He was a pioneer’: Loved ones mourn the loss of well-known fishing captain
By Gregg Holshouser
March 29, 2019 08:56 PM,
From the start, Mark Dickson was cut out to be a life-long fisherman. The North Myrtle Beach native was on the water beginning at the age of 13, when he began fishing, duck hunting and accumulating his vast knowledge of the saltwater estuaries and Atlantic Ocean surrounding Little River Inlet.
By the age of 17, he was working as a mate at Harbourgate Marina, and his stellar fishing career had begun.
His career began at an early age and, sadly, Dickson’s life, too, ended at an early age. The well-known charter captain passed away last Saturday from natural causes at the age of 47 following a long illness.
In his early years, Dickson was a regular, and successful, competitor on the Southern Kingfish Association tour, and for the last 20 years made his mark as an inshore guide and owner-operator of Shallow-Minded Inshore Charters in Little River.
Capt. Jessey Vereen, a life-long friend of Dickson, has taken over Shallow-Minded Inshore Charters as the owner-operator.
“We just want to carry it on and keep it going,” said Vereen. “It’s a tough loss for a lot of people. A lot of people in the area here thought a lot of Mark. He was a pioneer of inshore fishing charters in the Little River area.”
Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters, who grew up hunting, fishing and attending North Myrtle Beach High School with Dickson, also credits him with being a pioneer in a couple different fishing settings.
In the early 1990s, Dickson fished with Wendell Vereen, Larry Fowler and the late Jim Caudle, targeting king mackerel. Dickson and his fishing buddies were some of the first in the Carolinas to stray away from the traditional method of trolling for kings.
“They started using pogies (menhaden) and slow-trolling with light wire (for kings) before many people did,” said Kelly. “They won a lot of king tournaments. I remember walking into Mark’s house and he had hundreds of these king rigs all over the place he was selling to local guys, competitive kingfish guys. He became pretty well known in the SKA.”
About 20 years ago, Dickson began to focus on fishing inside of Little River Inlet, targeting reds, trout, black drum and flounder, and soon established his guide service.
“Mark started working at Dock Holidays Marina and started guiding on the side,” said Kelly. “He was one of the first redfish, trout, and flounder guides in Little River, using the style we all have now.
“Before that it was just people trolling or drifting for flounder. Mark was one of the first guys to try using live bait and artificials, more cast and retrieve fishing instead of bottom fishing, and he got it going.”
Any of the hundreds, or thousands, of clients Dickson took fishing in the Little River area in the last two decades, would describe him as very knowledgeable and patient — willing to take the time to teach and explain his successful techniques on fishing trips.
For over a decade, Dickson was a regular contributor to my weekly fishing report, readily discussing the current trends in the Little River vicinity. Dickson was always willing to take plenty of time, even during charter fishing trips, to explain all the details of what was happening each week. He became more than a great fishing report contact, he became a good friend.
“He loved to be around people — he was a people person,” said Kelly. “He loved teaching people about fishing and the ocean in general. He was very conservation-minded and definitely a great steward to the area. We’ve lost a good friend and a great fisherman.”
Fair winds and following seas to you, Capt. Mark.
The Conway High School and Middle School and Whittemore Park Middle School teams competed in the S.C. Department of Natural Resources’ Youth Bass Fishing Championship last Saturday at Dreher Island State Park.
Following fishing on Lake Murray, the weigh-ins were held at the Sportsman Classic at the South Carolina State Fairgrounds with over 100 schools from across the Palmetto State represented.
Conway Middle School finished 3rd overall with a 2-boat total of 15.7 pounds led by Mason Hardee and Will Hardee-McGuirt with 12.20 pounds. The duo finished in 3rd place overall among the 2-man teams in the middle school division. Cody Wilder and Dalton Williams contributed one fish at 3.50 pounds to the total.
Conway High School finished 10th overall with a 2-boat total of 16.08 pounds. Austin Winburn and Jacob Martin had 11.33 pounds, with Noah Jones and Manning Feldner weighing in 4.75 pounds.
Only the top two teams from each school qualified to compete in the tournament.