Zachary Rosenberg shows off a red snapper caught aboard Painkiller out of Murrells Inlet. Dr. Jason Rosenberg Submitted photo
Here’s the latest on the 2018 red snapper open fishing season
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
July 13, 2018 05:06 PM
Yes, Carolina anglers, there will be an open season for the harvest of red snapper in the South Atlantic region in 2018.
The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council announced Friday word had been received from NOAA Fisheries that Snapper Grouper Amendment 43 has been approved, which opens the door for a red snapper season at some point in 2018 for both recreational and commercial fishermen.
The red snapper season will likely take place sometime in the month of August, with the announcement of the exact dates upcoming.
For the recreational sector, the bag limit for red snapper will be one fish per person per day with no minimum size limit. The recreational season will be open on weekends only (Friday through Sunday), with the number of weekend openings and exact dates still to be determined.
For the commercial sector, a 75-pound trip limit (gutted weight) with no minimum size limit will be in place. The commercial season will close when the commercial Annual Catch Limit (ACL) is met or projected to be met.
The total ACL for red snapper during the mini-season will be 42,510 fish, with 29,656 fish allocated to the recreational sector.
In the meantime, red snapper cannot be harvested and must be released in the South Atlantic region.
S.C. Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series
The fourth leg of the series is well underway out of City Marina in Charleston where the Megadock Billfishing Tournament is being held.
The Megadock has lived up to its reputation as a sailfish bonanza as 30 sailfish, three blue marlin and two white marlin had been released through Friday’s fishing action. The field of 24 boats is eligible to fish two of three days, with the final day of fishing upcoming on Saturday.
The crew of Rascal, with a home port of Georgetown Landing Marina, had an outstanding opening day of the tournament, compiling 1,100 points to sit atop the leaderboard.
Rascal started the opening day with a bang, releasing the first billfish of the tournament, a white marlin at 8:22 a.m. The crew then released four sailfish the rest of the day. Rascal took Friday off and is set to go for the win on Saturday.
Artemis and Man Cave are tied for second with 1,000 points apiece.
Only two boats (Reel Passion and Miss Magnolia) out of the field of 24 have fished out and are not eligible to fish on Saturday.
On Friday, the 13th no less, two boats, Miss Wy and Blue Sky, were struck by lightning according to the South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series Facebook page, but no one was injured.
Capt. Buddy Smith of Underdog shows off a 45-pound yellowfin tuna caught out of Murrells Inlet on a July 7 trip. Submitted photo
Grand Strand Fishing Report: Charter boat Underdog lands 45-pound yellowfin tuna
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
July 12, 2018 08:01 PM
Look For: Flounder, black drum, red drum, spotted seatrout, sheepshead, ladyfish, bluefish, tarpon.
Comments: Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters reports good action for a variety of species in the Little River area, even with the water temperature at a balmy mid-80s in mid-July. “It’s slowed down a tad, but it’s still excellent fishing for summertime,” said Kelly, who has been taking advantage of “tons of finger mullet” available for bait. Kelly has used live and cut mullet, and live shrimp on jig heads, plus live shrimp on popping corks to catch red drum, black drum, flounder and spotted seatrout. Kelly also has used Berkeley Gulp baits (shrimp and swimming mullet) to catch fish. After a slow start to the week, action heated up a bit on Thursday for Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown. McDonald produced several reds drum, a tripletail, a few flounder and a ladyfish on a trip in the Winyah Bay area. McDonald was using live and cut finger mullet and cut shrimp for bait, both floated and on a Carolina rig. Look for tarpon in Winyah Bay and in the vicinity of the bay’s jetties.
Look For: King mackerel, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, spadefish, black sea bass, flounder, weakfish, whiting, croaker, pompano, black drum.
Comments: Conditions were splendid on the inshore waters for early July before Hurricane Chris formed a week ago and messed everything up. The storm harmlessly pulled away from the East Coast in the last few days but still switched the wind to an unfavorable north-northeast direction and canceled numerous fishing trips. Conditions are returning to normal, and king mackerel remain available on bottom spots in 40-60 feet of water in areas such as Belky Bear and The Jungle. Near-shore artificial reefs are producing spadefish, flounder, black sea bass and possibly weakfish, with Spanish mackerel, king mackerel and cobia also roaming the reefs. Plenty of sharks of all sizes are also available on the reefs. Ronnie Goodwin of the Cherry Grove Pier reports a water temperature reading of 85 degrees. Goodwin says the pier has produced scattered catches of black drum, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, whiting, croaker and spadefish, plus an angler hooked a tarpon which was released. Richard O’Leary of 14th Ave. Pier reports flounder, spadefish, whiting, croaker and pompano have been caught on the pier this week.
Look For: Dolphin, blackfin tuna, wahoo, blue marlin, sailfish, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grunts, porgy, amberjack, grouper.
Comments: Inshore of the break, trolling has produced scattered catches of king mackerel, barracuda, dolphin, wahoo, blackfin tuna and even the occasional sailfish. Near the break (the Continental Shelf) and further offshore, dolphin, wahoo, blackfin tuna, sailfish and blue marlin are in the trolling mix. Yellowfin tuna have been extremely rare offshore of the South Carolina coast for the last decade and longer. But the species has been showing up more frequently for boats from North Carolina’s Outer Banks in 2018 and alas one was caught out of Murrells Inlet on a recent trip. Capt. Buddy Love and the crew aboard Underdog landed a 45-pound yellowfin tuna on a July 7 trip. 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 still cannot be harvested and must be released in the South Atlantic region.
Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.
Comments: Bream action is very good on the rivers, with fish hitting crickets, worms and wax worms fished in depths of 1 to 4 feet. Catfish catches continue to be very good with fish hitting bream, fresh cut eel or fresh cut shad or mullet. For bass, find shady areas on these scorching days and try plastic worms, trick worms, brush hogs, Senkos and top-water frogs.
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
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.”
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