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.
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 sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/fishery_bulletins/2017/045/index.html.
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.
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 SALTTfishing.com.