Cullen Gerace and his dad, Peter Gerace show off the 4.1-pound flounder the nine-year-old caught to win the Grand Strand Saltwater Anglers Association Spring Flounder Tournament last Saturday. Submitted photo
Here’s who all won during busy fishing weekend in Georgetown
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
May 04, 2018 06:12 PM
Updated May 04, 2018 07:32 PM
Georgetown County was a real hot spot for tournament fishing last Saturday, with three major events on tap.
The tournaments targeted fish species spanning the entire saltwater spectrum, from flounder and redfish in the inlets and bays to wahoo, tuna and dolphin on the offshore ledges.
Without further ado, here are the details, in alphabetical order:
Georgetown Meatfish Slam
Now that’s what you call cutting it close.
When 2 p.m. rolled around last Saturday afternoon, co-owners Lyle Floyd and Brian Ridgeway and the crew aboard Game Plan had boated a dolphin and a nice blackfin tuna while trolling ballyhoo with Bluewater Candy skirts just north of the Georgetown Hole.
Missing the final component of a meatfish slam – wahoo – they went to a new, well, game plan with an hour left before lines-in time of 3 p.m. in the 10th annual Georgetown Meatfish Slam.
“We started pulling high-speed lures for the last hour and we hooked up with (two wahoo) at 2:50 p.m.,” said Floyd. “It was probably two minutes before (3 p.m.) when they both hit the deck.”
Ridgeway, of Sumter, was the angler on the largest of the two wahoo, with Mikey Bozeman, also of Sumter, on the smaller fish. Larry Keeling of Sumter was the fourth member of the crew.
Knowing that the first boat to weigh in all three targeted species (wahoo, tuna, dolphin) stood to win a bonus $1,000, Floyd said they high-tailed it toward Georgetown in the 32-foot Contender as soon as the two wahoo were on ice.
“We ran in at 54-55 mph, and made it from (north of) the Georgetown Hole to the (Winyah Bay) jetties in an hour and five minutes,” said Floyd.
Game Plan didn’t make the weigh-in in time to earn the $1,000, as that honor went to the crew of Georgi Girl, of Florence.
The Game Plan crew was pleased when they did weigh in, as their 36.7-pound wahoo, 19.9-pound tuna and 9.5-pound dolphin equated to a 66.1-pound aggregate, good enough to win first prize of $5,000.
“I knew we had a decent chance since we had all three fish, but I didn’t think it was going to be quite enough,” said Floyd. “We were really happy with it.”
Georgi Girl won 2nd Place Aggregate with 31.8 pounds.
Game Plan also won the Big Dog Aggregate and 1st Place Tuna. Yard Man won 1st Place Dolphin with a 19.6-pounder that also earned top Lady Angler honors for angler Hayden Kelly. Beach House weighed in a 41.4-pounder to win 1st Place Wahoo honors.
GSSWA Spring Flounder Tournament
To put it bluntly, the small fry caught the big fish in the 17th annual Grand Strand Saltwater Anglers tournament in Murrells Inlet.
Nine-year-old Cullen Gerace bested all the anglers in the adult division with a 4.1-pound flounder to win the $3,500 first prize.
Cullen is a veteran angler, considering he’s a third-grader at Coastal Montessori Charter School in Pawleys Island, and he even caught the winning fish on a grub.
Two years removed from winning top junior angler honors in the tournament, Cullen made the decision to move up a division this year.
“I said ‘You can either fish for $300 and a fishing rod you’ve already got or you can fish with the big boys for $1,500,’ ” recalled his Dad, Peter Gerace. “He said ‘I want to fish with the big boys.’ ”
After a late start, the father-son duo were fishing on the north end of the inlet when Cullen hooked up with the eventual winning fish on a Z-Man (New Penny) grub a little before 9:30 a.m.
“When (Cullen) hooked the big one it swam right to the boat,” said Peter Gerace. “Then the fish came up and I realized how big it was. I missed it the first time, then it took off and it went bananas. I thought we were going to lose it.”
But Peter Gerace did manage to net the fish, and they were thrilled to see the size of it.
“It was very thick,” recalled Peter Gerace. “When I netted it and dropped the net with the fish in the boat I said ‘How does it feel to win?’ He said ‘Awesome!’ I told him how proud of him I was and he said ‘Thanks Daddy, you’re my favorite thing. And that’s the biggest flounder I’ve ever caught.’
“I told him ‘Well, you picked the right day to catch your biggest one!’ ”
After finishing out the day, the verdict at the weigh-in was confirmed – the third-grader had indeed beaten all the big boys and won the tournament. He topped 183 other adult anglers, with a total of 27 flounder weighed in the division.
“I’m real proud of him,” said Peter Gerace. “He’s been practicing, keeping at it. He’s going to be a good fisherman. He does it all himself.”
George Smart finished second with a 3.40-pound flounder good for $600. Tommy Collins was third with a 2.85-pounder, Bentley Lachicotte fourth with a 2.40-pounder and John Harrington and Charles Gamber Jr. finished tied for fifth with 2.15-pound fish.
Camden Lee won the Youth Division and $150 with a 2.10-pound flounder. Ava Heise was second with a 2.0-pounder and Kinsley Glover third with a 1.9-pounder.
Josh Winesett won the Bluefish Division with a 2.25-pounder.
IFA Redfish Tour
A pair of Horry County anglers ventured to neighboring Georgetown County to win the IFA Redfish Tour stop out of the Carroll Ashemore Campbell Marine Complex on Saturday.
Steve Fennell of North Myrtle Beach and Bobby Marks of Conway weighed in a two-redfish aggregate of 11.57 pounds, but it was the larger of the pair of fish that had the crowd buzzing at the weigh-in on the banks of the Sampit River.
Each two-man team was allowed to weigh in two red drum measuring within South Carolina’s slot limit of 15 to 23 inches.
The duo’s lunker measured 22 inches but weighed an astounding 7.04 pounds. Fennell and Marks paired the tournament lunker with a nice 4.53-pounder for their winning aggregate.
Fennell was pleased with the conditions, along with the fishing which enabled them to finish atop the field of 55 boats.
“It was outstanding,” said Fennell. “There were light winds in the morning but picked up during the day. We caught good fish all day and we were able to cull.”
According to the IFA, Fennell and Marks caught their fish on Berkeley Gulp baits fishing the Sampit River.
The duo won a Ranger RB190 powered by a 90-horsepower four-stroke Mercury valued at over $26,000.
The hometown duo of Brian Goude and Derek Tayor, both of Georgetown, ventured south to fish Bulls Bay and fished floated Berkely Gulp baits to catch reds weighing 5.41 and 4.75 pounds. Their aggregate of 10.16 pounds was good for second place and $2,131 in winnings.
The lowcountry duo of Marvin Benford, of Summerville, and Rob Cowen, of John’s Island, fished Bulls Bay with Berkely Gulp baits and finished third with an 8.80-pound aggregate.
The tournament was the first of two in the Redfish Tour’s Atlantic Division, with both staged in Georgetown. The second event is scheduled for the Campbell Marine Complex on Sept. 22.
The Atlantic Division is one of five on the Redfish Tour. The tour championship will be held Oct. 26-27 in Hopedale, La.
Steve Fennell of North Myrtle Beach and Bobby Marks of Conway show off their winning red drum in the IFA Redfish Tour’s Atlantic Division stop in Georgetown last Saturday. IFA Redfish Tour