The time-tested method of fishing for flounder in Murrells Inlet paid off for Shaun Bess and his two fishing partners in the 8th annual Murrells Inlet Rotary Flounder Tournament held last Saturday.
Going back decades, fishermen have been a fixture on the inlet, puttering along at a snail’s pace in small boats, slow-trolling bottom rigs with live mud minnows for bait.
That is just what Bess, his 17-year-old son Coleman, a rising senior at St. James High School, and fishing buddy Haslin Rogers did to win the tournament — along with nearly $2,000 in prize money.
The trio fished in a 15-foot McKee Craft in the one-day tournament, and went to a spot that is also proven its worth over time — the Charlie Cut area.
“It was basically a beautiful day, the tide had just started falling and we started picking up some fish,” recalled Bess. “All three of us were catching some good fish. We were just out there trolling around and sure enough I caught a good one. I just reeled him in, netted him and put him in the box.”
After measuring the fish at 22 inches on his cooler, Bess felt like they were in the running.
“I was thinking we all had a couple good fish, ‘Man, we have a chance, maybe we'll be lucky enough to place,’” said Bess. “I really didn't think it would win but knew it was a good fish based on prior tournaments.”
Late in the afternoon at the weigh-in at Crazy Sister Marina, the three-man crew learned their flounder weighed 3.43 pounds and was the largest caught among the 74 anglers fishing in the tournament. The $1,000 first prize for biggest flounder was theirs, in addition to winning the tournament-within-a-tournament (TWT) categories for biggest flounder and heaviest three-fish aggregate.
“It was awesome,” said Bess, owner-operator of Bess Landscaping in Murrells Inlet. “I just thought somebody would bring in a 5-plus pound fish.”
Aside from the prize money, Bess, who was sponsored in the event by Sons of Zorn, a landscape supply company, was happy to fish in and win the tournament with his two best fishing buddies.
“Haslin and I are pretty solid fishing partners,” said Bess. “We really just enjoy fishing together. We had Coleman in the boat this time. It was awesome having him out there with us.”
Jeff Heise finished second with a three-fish aggregate of 6.45 pounds. Mike Brady took third place with a 3.13-pound flounder.
David Strickland was fourth with a 2.39-pounder and Robert Hoops took fifth with a 2.31-pounder.
Bess won the TWT three-fish aggregate of 7.43 pounds and the largest flounder TWT with the 3.43-pounder.
The top Youth Angler was seven-year-old Wyatt Stiles with a 2.69-pound flounder and 11-year-old Cameron Lee was second with a 2.62-pounder.
The 9th annual Meatfish Slam was held last weekend out of Georgetown Landing Marina after being postponed from its original dates in late April.
Capt. Todd Bruner of the charter boat Bruno, a 42-foot Bertram, and his crew won the $5,000 first-place prize with an aggregate of 63.1 pounds.
The winner was determined by the heaviest aggregate weight of the largest wahoo, dolphin and tuna caught by each participating boat, and Bruno was the only boat to weigh in all three.
The Bruno crew boated a 41.8-pound wahoo, the key to their victory, a 13-pound dolphin and an 8.3-pound tuna. The wahoo was the largest weighed in.
“The wahoo is always the kicker in this tournament,” said Ed Keelin of Georgetown Landing Marina.
The top Youth Angler was Kaylee Thomas, who caught the 41.8-pound wahoo aboard Bruno. The top Lady Angler was Madison Scimanico who caught a 15.5-pound dolphin.
Bruno also won the tournament-within-a-tournament categories for aggregate weight, Big Dog aggregate and largest wahoo. Pain Killer was second in both aggregate categories with 41.4 pounds while Georgi Girl caught the second-largest wahoo, a 23.4-pounder.
Pain Killer caught the largest dolphin, a 23.4-pounder followed by Earl E Bird with a 15.6-pounder.
Pain Killer also weighed in the largest tuna — a 17.7-pound blackfin — followed by Earl E. Bird and its catch of a 15.6-pound blackfin.
Jolly Mon Classic
A field of 250 boats was expected to fish in the Yellowfin/Yamaha Jolly Mon King Classic Saturday and Sunday out of Ocean Isle Fishing Center in Ocean Isle Beach, N.C.
Competing boats can fish one of the two days in the tournament which is the first event in the inaugural Kingfish Cup series. The tournament is not part of the Southern Kingfish Association (SKA) schedule of tournaments this year.
Other events in the Kingfish Cup are the Got ‘Em On Classic (July 7-9), the Fall Brawl King Classic (Oct. 13-15) and the Rumble in the Jungle (Oct. 20-22).