Weather will provide opportunity to seek offshore prizes along Grand Strand

Outdoors ColumnistApril 4, 2013 

This has been a spring to forget for local anglers, with windy weather and well below average temperatures the norm.

Data recently compiled by WBTW News 13 Meteorologist Andrew Phillips very accurately paints a picture of the weather that unfolded along the Grand Strand and across the Southeast in March, which has carried over into early April.

Phillips noted the average high temperature for the first 25 days in March in North Myrtle Beach was 59.2 degrees. Compare that to the first 25 days of January when the average high in North Myrtle Beach was 61.6 degrees.

“It’s been the worst spring I can remember,” said John Horton, general manager of Georgetown Landing Marina. “Hopefully we’ve put in our dues here and we’ll have a great summer.”

Ocean water temperatures likewise are well below average, but all this doesn’t mean prospects are dim for big-game offshore anglers in search of wahoo, blackfin tuna and, soon enough, dolphin.

Case in point, this past Saturday. Numerous boats took advantage of a window of weather opportunity to head offshore and do some trolling in the Georgetown Hole/Winyah Scarp area. The results were good, and surprising.

Catches of wahoo and blackfin tuna were very good for boats from Georgetown to Ocean Isle Beach, N.C., with numerous bonito also in the mix.

Several smoker wahoo over 50 pounds were caught – more were lost – and the largest blackfin tuna reported was a 31-pound, 11-ounce specimen landed by Critter Gitter out of Georgetown Landing Marina, which had several boats head offshore on the day.

“The fishing was great,” said Horton. “They're out there - they're hungry because nobody has been able to go feed them. There’s literally no pressure on those fish. I’d imagine the wahoo are prolific and the tuna are all over the place.”

Georgetown boat Earl E Bird, with Capt. Ed Keelin at the helm, had a nice catch of two wahoo and eight blackfin tuna while fishing in 150 feet of water northeast of the Georgetown Hole. The water was green and 68 degrees but bait was abundant.

Now here’s the surprise. The Earl E Bird, owned by Earle Atkinson III, caught and released a blue marlin estimated at 275 pounds with first-time offshore angler Dalton Collins serving as the angler.

“[The marlin] was in there in cool water, shallow water where you wouldn’t normally see them,” said Horton. “It was probably in there getting a belly full of all those false albacore [bonito].”

The blue hit a ballyhoo with a green/white Sea Witch skirt.

Could this be a good premonition for the upcoming 46th annual Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament which will kick off the 25th edition of the South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series May 22-25? Time will tell.

Billfish releases

Amy Whitaker Dukes, a coordinator of the Governor’s Cup, reminds anglers to report their billfish releases to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. Anglers reporting a release will receive a Billfish Release Certificate from DNR.

To report billfish releases or request billfish release cards, call 843-953-9365 or email dukesa@dnr.sc.gov.

Contact GREGG HOLSHOUSER at 651-9028 or wholshouser@sc.rr.com.

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