Harbourgate Marina in Little River often serves as a fishing tournament venue and weigh-ins are a common occurrence. The weigh-in scheduled for about 3 p.m. Sunday at the marina will certainly be a little different.
The marina will be the center point of Little River’s 2nd annual River Sweep, which is designed to give the adjacent waterways, islands and beaches a good clean up.
The event runs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Harbourgate with a weigh-in of the rubbish gathered by participants. Prizes will be awarded for the boat that, well, catches the largest amount of trash.
Capt. Patrick Kelly is deeply rooted to the Little River water scene and has been instrumental in organizing the event since its inauguration last year.
“I’m on the water constantly, fishing, surfing,” said Kelly. “I’m a water person. I’ve got to see and touch it about every day.”
Kelly, operator of local fishing charter service Capt. Smiley Charters and a North Myrtle Beach native, cut his teeth boating and fishing in the estuaries surrounding Little River.
“We went to Hog Island (now Waites Island) back in the day, that was the big weekend spot to hang out,” said Kelly, 41, a graduate of North Myrtle Beach High School. “That’s where I fell in love with the Little River area when I was a kid. Now most people go out on Bird Island.”
Kelly’s concern for keeping the local marine environment clean started in his teenage years.
In 1986, for an Eagle Scout project, the then 15-year-old Kelly helped coordinate placing trash cans and signs urging beachgoers to keep the beach clean at beach accesses in the Arcadian Shores section of Myrtle Beach.
In the 26-plus years since, the amount of boat traffic and number of beachgoers in the area have exploded and the need to help keep the waterways, islands and beaches clean is greater than ever.
“It’s probably quadrupled since then – I don’t even know how to put a number on it,’’ said Kelly of boat traffic in the Little River area. “Every weekend day there are hundreds of boats that use the islands. Boating is huge here in Little River – pleasure boaters, fishermen, jet skiers, tour boats, fishing charters. People use these islands and we’ve got to keep the trash off of them, give them a sweep every year, clean ‘em up.”
Patrick has a particular disdain for one-time use plastic items such as water bottles and grocery bags. According to the Wall Street Journal, the United States goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually. The bags, as well as plastic water and drink bottles, are a real threat to a variety of marine life, particularly sea turtles.
“One-time use items are just a total waste,” said Kelly. “Reusable bags at a grocery store is an easy solution for the plastic bags. The wind catches them, they get caught in trees, they eventually wind up in ocean. Turtles mistake them for jellyfish. It’s not going to go away unless we pick it up.”
Boaters are invited to join the event to clean up, plus there are opportunities for those that are boat-less to help out.
Getaway Adventures is offering free trips to the islands during the event – the only caveat being those taking part must help pick up trash.
Getaway Adventures will depart from Harbourgate Marina for three free trips Sunday at 8 a.m., 10 a.m. and noon, with a maximum of 34 people allowed on each trip. J&L Kayak Ecoventures will offer kayak trips to join the expedition. All trips are offered on a first come, first served basis.
Participants will be navigating Spartina grass, pluff mud and even oyster beds to pick up the trash. Those helping should expect to get dirty and wear a sturdy old pair of shoes to protect their feet.
Lunch will be provided for the participants at the marina by Snooky's Casual Waterfront Dining.
*Sports & Outdoor Living Show: It will be a busy weekend in Little River, with the Sports & Outdoor Living Show to be held on Saturday at Harbourgate Marina from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.. Featured activities will include an in-water boat show, archery, fishing, hunting, gardening and landscaping.
Admission is $5 with children under 12 accompanied by an adult admitted free. For more information on either event, contact the Little River Chamber of Commerce at (843) 249-6604 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Crazy Sister Offshore Challenge: With the offshore trolling action heating up, the Crazy Sister Offshore Challenge is set for Saturday, April 20 out of Crazy Sister Marina in Murrells Inlet.
The event features a total purse of $15,000 based on a minimum of 30 boats entered plus a tournament-within-a-tournament entry is offered.
Targeted species include wahoo, dolphin and tuna. The largest combined weight of up to three fish of each species will determine the winners in the regular tournament.
Entry fee is $500. Captains Meeting is set for April 19, 7 p.m., at the marina and Wicked Tuna Grill on the south end of the Marshwalk. For more information, 843-995-7446.
*Seacoast Anglers: The Seacoast Anglers Association will meet Monday with social hour starting at 5:30 p.m. followed by the meeting at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will be held at the VFW post located at the intersection of Hwy. 57 and Hwy. 9 in Little River.