Gregg Holshouser and Dr. Jason Rosenberg display a dolphin caught aboard Painkiller on Wednesday. Dr. Jason Rosenberg Submitted photo
Old fishing trick helped our crew finish off successful day with quartet of dolphin
For The Sun News
September 22, 2017 6:28 PM
Finally, the offshore marine forecast was suitable, so it was on for the latest escapade of Dr. Jason Rosenberg’s ongoing series of “Wednesday Fishing With Friends.”
A light westerly wind was blowing as Capt. Jay Sconyers ran Rosenberg’s 32-foot Contender, Painkiller, past the Murrells Inlet sea buoy into a choppy 1-2 foot sea and headed in a south-southeasterly direction.
Sconyers was able to run the boat at nearly 50 mph on the way out, and a bouncy 55 miles later the crew of four arrived at our planned destination – the Winyah Scarp.
It was the next-to-last day of summer, and Rosenberg, Sconyers, Jimmy Kaminski and I had wahoo on the brain.
Nine days earlier, Hurricane Irma had passed well to the west of the Myrtle Beach area, but persistent east-northeast winds from the massive storm, with gusts over 50 mph, had seriously churned up the Atlantic Ocean not only locally but along the entire Southeast coast.
Fishing in the aftermath of such a major storm can be a crapshoot, and we were hoping to hit the jackpot.
The ocean was alive with birds working bait, especially numerous small flying fish, and the surface water temperature was in the lower 80s.
Rosenberg, a board certified neurologist and pain doctor at SC Pain & Spine Specialists in Murrells Inlet, and Sconyers decided the first plan of action would be to troll high-speed lures at 10 knots for wahoo.
About 45 minutes after Sconyers, regularly the owner/operator of Aces Up Fishing, except most Wednesdays, and crew got the lines out, one off the reels started screaming.
After a 10-minute fight, Rosenberg had reeled a wahoo in the 25-30 pound class to the boat and Sconyers gaffed the fish, which had hit a mammoth blue-white high-speed lure.
Another hour or so passed without a strike, although the birds and bait remained present, and Rosenberg decided to go to plan B – offer the fish some real meat. The switch was made to trolling ballyhoo with Ilander and Sea Witch skirts.
The trolling action still remained slow and after another hour it was nearly 2 p.m. Plan C was put into action.
Sconyers ran west to a spot in about 130 feet of water that had previously been productive for red porgy (pinkies) and triggfish, and we quickly dropped down cut cigar minnows on two-hook rigs.
The only quality bite came from an undersized triggerfish. Meanwhile, Rosenberg and Sconyers both thought they saw a sea turtle at the surface in the distance, until Sconyers saw a bird sitting on what wound up being a two-foot square pallet.
Sconyers eased up to the pallet, and small tripletail were immediately spotted in the beautiful clear blue water, hanging out under the pallet.
It was time for unexpected plan D – the chunking method.
Sconyers and Kaminski began tossing chunks of ballyhoo around the pallet and soon what we were looking for showed up – the vivid blue-green flash of dolphin (mahi mahi) appeared under the mini floating structure.
We worked a jig fish and tossed cut bait with no weight around the pallet. At first both the tripletail and dolphin were finicky, but eventually the free meal got to them.
The old trick of keeping one hooked dolphin in the water until another one is hooked up worked, although having a dolphin doubleheader on light spinning tackle can create chaos on the deck.
The dolphin lived up to their fine gamefish reputation with acrobatic jumps after being hooked.
We wound up with four dolphin over the 20-inch minimum size limit plus four tripletail, which prefer shrimp, went for the cut bait and wound up in the box.
Time flies when you’re trying to entice dolphin to bite, and soon it was nearly 4 p.m. with a 45-mile ride ahead of us.
The west wind had turned more southerly, and the ocean had laid down even further, allowing Sconyers to open up the dual 300-horsepower Yahamas to around 50 mph, making the run back to the inlet in just over an hour.
The season-opening event for the Coach Rayburn Poston’s Student Angler League Tournament Trail was held last Saturday out of the Carroll Ashmore Campbell Marine Complex, located on U.S. Hwy. 17 on the Sampit River in Georgetown.
The trail is open to middle and high school anglers targeting red drum and largemouth bass in separate categories.
A total of 27 boats from 18 high schools competed in the season-opener, the first of six trails in the 2017-18 season.
The anglers enjoyed calm wind and water, enabling the redfish anglers to spread out through Winyah Bay and even to adjacent North Inlet. The bass anglers had their choice of rivers to pursue their freshwater target species.
Anglers from Andrews High School won both divisions, with Noah Payne and Kadyn Kellahan claiming first place in the red drum division with a 9.74-pound aggregate including the big fish, a 4.78 pounder.
Andrews’ Caleb Thornell and Brandon Porter had a 6.99-pound aggregate of bass to win that division.
Marshall Sasser and Kel Owens of Georgetown High School finished second in the red drum division with an 8.66-pound aggregate followed by the sister team of Hailey and Christy Edmonds of Carolina Forest with 8.23 pounds.
TJ McKenzie and James Clark of Waccamaw High School finished second in the bass division with 6.96 pounds followed by brothers Jackson and Cooper Denny of Carolina Forest High School with 6.48 pounds.
Andrew Vereen of St. James High caught the big bass, a 3.49-pounder.
The next SALTT event will be held Sept. 30 in Georgetown. Teams can still register for trail tournaments. For more information, visit www.salttfishing.com.
Prince George Winyah Inshore Tournament
This tournament targeting redfish, trout and flounder will also be held Sept. 30 out of Georgetown Landing Marina.
The captains meeting and fish fry will be held Friday at the marina. For more information, call 843-240-2400.