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Results from the Georgetown Wahoo Challenge

August 19, 2017 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Results from the Georgetown Wahoo Challenge

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Mike Kuiken displays a dolphin at the stern of Bruno during the Georgetown Wahoo Challenge last weekend out of Georgetown Landing Marina. Submitted photo
‘A pretty fine little area’: Crew’s trek to secret spot leads to big win in fishing tournament

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

August 18, 2017 5:53 PM

It’s not easy to find a secret spot in this day and age, even in the massive area in the Atlantic Ocean along the Continental Shelf that local boats troll for big-game species such as dolphin, wahoo and tuna.

When the 21 boats fishing in the 2017 Georgetown Wahoo Challenge out of Georgetown Landing Marina zoomed offshore last weekend, one boat locked in a more northerly heading.

Capt. Todd Bruner headed Bruno, a 42-foot Bertram, to a spot north of the Winyah Scarp while the majority of the field of boats fished well to the south.

Bruner was fishing out of his homeport of Georgetown Landing Marina, where he operates Bruno Fishing Charters specializing in offshore trolling.

Two months earlier Bruner and crew won the Meatfish Slam, also out of Georgetown Landing, and were looking for a repeat.

Bruner fished the same spot – north of the Winyah Scarp in 163 feet of water – that produced the winning catch in the Meatfish Slam.

First place in the Wahoo Challenge was based on a two-wahoo aggregate weight, and the Bruno crew landed six on the day along with two dolphin and one blackfin tuna.

Yes, the little spot to the north was very productive again. Bruno’s top two wahoo weighed 64.5 and 47.4 pounds back at Georgetown Landing for two-fish aggregate of 111.9 pounds to easily win the tournament.

Big Sky was second with an aggregate of 81.2 pounds followed by HayFever at 79.6 pounds.

“We won the meatfish tournament out of the same area – (wahoo) just show up there in the heat of the summer,” said Bruner. “It’s a pretty fine little area.”

The crew trolled large ballyhoo/Ilander lure combos to catch their fish.

“The Ilanders, we keep an arsenal of them,” said Bruner. “The dark purples seem to work higher (in the water column) and the light colors, pink, chartreuse and light blue, seem to work better down deep.”

The largest wahoo hit a bait on a planer while the second-largest hit a surface bait.

The action was virtually non-stop for the crew, which included Bruner’s wife Lisa Loud, Bruno co-owner Mike Kuiken, Robert Mayer and his son Crayton, Max McMillan, Rod Bryant and Steve Smith.

“We dropped the lines in at 7 a.m. and at 7:20 had the first fish in the boat,” said Bruner. “It didn’t stop, it stayed active all day long. We had at least 30 cutoffs. We probably lost $500 to $600 worth of rigs. It’s a day that will stick in my head for a while.”

Margaret Stacy of Big Sky, Capt. Jim Johnston’s granddaughter, was the top Lady Angler with a 47.4-pound wahoo. Allen Butler of HayFever was the top Youth Angler with a 42.3-pound wahoo.
Cobia confusion

In the wake of a Fishery Bulletin released by NOAA Fisheries on Aug. 4, some anglers have had the misconception they will be able to harvest cobia beginning on Sept. 5.

The NOAA Fisheries bulletin announced new cobia regulations that will be effective beginning on Sept. 5, but the recreation fishery for cobia in the Atlantic Group (Georgia through New York) remains closed in federal waters through the remainder of 2017.

The recreational Atlantic Group cobia season will re-open on Jan. 1, 2018, at which time the new regulations outlined in the bulletin released on Aug. 4 will become effective.

The new cobia regulations for recreational anglers include an increase in the minimum size limit from 33 inches to 36 inches fork length. The recreational bag limit is now one fish per person or six fish per vessel, whichever is more restrictive.

For more information, visit
Spanish Mackerel Derby

The 7th Annual Spanish Mackerel Derby will be held out of the Mullet Hut in Murrells Inlet next weekend, Aug. 25-26.

First place is a $5,000 cash prize. For more information, call 843-602-0910.
SALTT registration

The Student Angler League Tournament Trail is entering its fourth season, and registration is now open.

The trail, open to middle and high school anglers and targeting red drum and largemouth bass in separate categories, opens on Sept. 16 with the first of six trails in the 2017-18 season.

All events are held at the Carroll Campbell Marine Complex, located on the Sampit River in Georgetown. For more information, visit

Plenty biting in the local area.

August 18, 2017 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Plenty biting in the local area.

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Captain Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service hooks into a shark several months ago in North Inlet. JASON LEE jlee@thesunnews
Fishing report: Red (drum) summer continues on local estuaries, plenty others biting

By Gregg Holshouser

For The Sun News

August 17, 2017 7:17 PM

Look For: Black drum, flounder, spotted seatrout, red drum, sheepshead, bluefish, tarpon.

Comments: It was quite a day Thursday for Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in the Georgetown vicinity. “We fished the (North) Inlet, the (Winyah) Bay, the jetties,” said McDonald. “We’ve been running from place to place trying to stay away from sharks and ribbonfish.” McDonald’s crew caught 14 trout, five flounder, three red drum and three ladyfish on the morning trip. “We’ve been doing fair to middlin’,” quipped McDonald, who noted a water temperature of 85 degrees. It’s been a week of trout and reds for Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters in the Little River area. “We’ve been mainly catching reds – it’s been a good summer for red drum,” said Kelly. “We’ve been using a lot of live shrimp in the deeper parts of the waterway. Kelly has also had success with spotted seatrout, also hitting live shrimp. “We’ve had some keeper fish in the two- to three-pound range and a lot of small fish,” Kelly said of the trout. Kelly also noted that large shrimp – eating size shrimp – have shown up recently in his cast net while he’s been catching bait. In Murrells Inlet, black drum and flounder have been the top catch this week with large croakers and even some spots also being landed. Ed Keelin of Georgetown Landing Marina reports plenty of tarpon have been spotted in the Winyah Bay vicinity, but few catches have been reported.

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

Comments: Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters has been targeting flounder on the near-shore reefs this week. On Thursday, he found plenty of flounder at Paradise Reef, located three miles east of Murrells Inlet, but keepers over South Carolina’s new minimum size limit for flounder of 15 inches were hard to come by. “We started at Paradise, and we must have caught 20 flounder at 14.5 inches,” said Maples. The captain then moved to the 10-Mile Reef, also east of Murrells Inlet. “We caught flounder there too but the barracuda were having a field day,” said Maples. “You’ve got to get them up quick or you’re only going to get half of it.” Maples also notes that large Spanish mackerel are available at both reefs, with king mackerel being caught at Belky Bear, just offshore of the 10-Mile Reef. Maples has also seen spadefish on the reefs but said “the ‘cudas are spooking them.” Numerous species are available off Grand Strand piers and near the surfline, headed by whiting, croaker, black drum and Spanish mackerel, but catches are scattered. The ocean water temperature was 86 degrees on the surface and bottom Thursday afternoon at Cherry Grove Pier.

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

Comments: August is known to be a solid month for wahoo trolling in areas near the break such as the Winyah Scarp and Georgetown Hole. Such was the case in the Georgetown Wahoo Challenge last weekend out of Georgetown Landing Marina, when 21 boats weighed in 67 wahoo. Blackfin tuna and a few dolphin and sailfish are also in the trolling mix in the same areas. Also look for king mackerel on bottom spots in depths of 50-80 feet. Vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, and amberjack lead the way for bottom fishermen, with grouper, porgy and grunts also available. Cobia cannot be harvested in 2017 in South Carolina waters (to three miles offshore) or federal waters (beyond three miles) and must be released. Red snapper must be released in the South Atlantic region.

Look For: Bream, catfish, bass, crappie.

Comments: After a cool start to the month, it has felt like the dog days of August this week. “It’s been so hot not a lot of people have been going,” said Ronald ‘Catfish’ Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. Bream continue to hit crickets and worms, but fishing a little off the bank in deeper water is a good plan. Fishing worms on the bottom may also be a good idea. Stalvey says bass action is good, but predominantly early and late in the day to avoid the oppressive heat. Try using spinnerbaits and buzz baits at dawn or dusk, and in between use a Texas-rigged worm on drop-offs and creek mouths. Catfish are hitting a variety of live bait (bream, black salties) and cut baits (eels, mullet). Surprisingly, the Waccamaw has more of a rise of in it than the Little Pee Dee. The Waccamaw was at 8.19 feet at 3:15 p.m. Thursday in Conway while the Little Pee Dee was at 4.71 feet at 3 p.m. at Galivants Ferry.

Changes in deer hunting regulations

August 5, 2017 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Changes in deer hunting regulations

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When deer hunting season opens in the majority of the state on Aug. 15, South Carolina will become the final state in the nation to institute a statewide limit on the harvest of bucks File photo The Sun News
What you need to know about S.C.’s new deer tagging system, limit on harvest of bucks

By Gregg Holshouser

For The Sun News

August 04, 2017 2:45 PM

Changes in South Carolina’s antiquated white-tailed deer hunting laws will go into effect in mid-August following years of public input and 14 months after legislation was passed by the state General Assembly.

When deer hunting season opens in the majority of the state — including game zones 3 and 4 for which Horry and Georgetown counties are a part of — on Aug. 15, South Carolina will become the final state in the nation to institute a statewide limit on the harvest of bucks.

S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) is in the process of instituting a first-time tagging system which will require all deer harvested – bucks and does – to be tagged at the point of kill, joining most other states with similar systems.

The legislation was signed into law by then-Gov. Nikki Haley on June 8, 2016.

The new laws are the result of well over a decade of input the agency received from hunters interested in improving the quality and quantity of bucks available in the Palmetto State.

Hunter input along with an estimated 35 percent decline in the state’s deer population since the turn of the century forced members of the state’s legislative body into action.

Resident hunters in game zones 3 and 4 that have purchased a hunting license and a big game permit automatically receive a base set of tags — three tags for antlered bucks and eight date-specific antlerless deer tags.

“It’s been in the works since 2003,” said SCDNR big game program coordinator Charles Ruth. “Clearly it was something hunters initiated and it gained momentum over time. Our deer population changed noticeably during the same period of time to get where we are. (The population decline) added fuel to what changes we were already talking about.

“It wouldn’t ever have gotten to the level where the legislature was interested in it if the hunters at the local level had not continued to bring it up. Then the legislature said they really wanted to see some changes. That’s when it all started to come together.”

The agency has been busy mailing deer tags to hunters in recent weeks, a new venture for Ruth and his cohorts — and the hunters.

“Since the legislation passed, the big thing has been orchestrating this tag program, getting the tags to the hunters that are supposed to have them,” said Ruth.

As for hunters that have questions on exactly how to use the tags, Ruth has a simple message — read them.

“The biggest message we can give to hunters is simply read your tags,” said Ruth. “It all will make more sense if you just read your tag. Most of the calls I’m getting from my constituents is ‘Hey, I got my deer tags and this makes perfect sense to me.’ Each tag has verbiage on it. The entire back side has info on it. The light bulb will go off and they’ll say, ‘I’ve got this.’”

Resident hunters in game zones 3 and 4 that have purchased a hunting license and a big game permit automatically receive a base set of tags — three tags for antlered bucks and eight date-specific antlerless deer tags.

“Those eight doe tags simply replace what used to be doe days,” said Ruth. “It’s the same eight days we’ve had the last four to five years … typically Saturdays, except the last one which is Jan. 1 (2018).”

The buck restriction is designed to take the pressure off the year-and-a-half old bucks. If the hunter wants that extra opportunity he has to get those tags, but he can’t just keep harvesting little bucks.

SCDNR big game program coordinator Charles Ruth

Resident hunters in game zones 3 and 4 can also purchase two antler restriction buck tags for $5 apiece, each of which are valid only on bucks with a minimum of four points on one antler or a 12-inch inside antler spread. As in the past, resident hunters can also purchase up to four individual antlerless deer tags for $5 each.

“The buck restriction is designed to take the pressure off the year-and-a-half old bucks,” said Ruth. “If the hunter wants that extra opportunity he has to get those tags, but he can’t just keep harvesting little bucks.”

SCDNR will in the future have the ability to alter the number of antlerless deer tags available to hunters, but a change in the number of buck tags available would require legislative approval.

“The tags are the actual tool to enforce that buck limit, and part of the process is the agency wants all deer tagged which will give us a better ability to manage the antlerless harvest as we go into the future,” said Ruth. “SCDNR will be able to manipulate the number of tags, especially the optional tags for does. It has been such that people could get up to four (additional doe tags) for a long time. If the agency sees the need for it to be less than four, or more than four for that matter, they could make that adjustment.”

With the start of deer hunting season fast approaching, Ruth says hunters who are due tags will soon receive them.

“As of today, the agency is basically caught up with the initial bulk distribution,” said Ruth. “The people who have an active big game permit, if they don’t have their tags, they’re in the mail. One of the most frequently asked questions is if you have an active hunting license and big game permit you automatically get your base set of tags.”

Senior hunters, lifetime license holders and youth hunters are entitled to the base set of tags, but have to request them by calling 803-734-3833.

The Deer Quota Program, formerly the Antlerless Deer Quota Program, is available for landowners with large properties and has been in place for over 50 years. SCDNR determines the property’s quota and issues tags based on the size and location of the property, along with the goals of the participant. A harvest report is required.

For more information on the South Carolina’s deer season visit For more information on the new tagging program visit