What has become a rite of spring returns to the banks of Murrells Inlet next Friday.
For the fourth consecutive year, the Waccamaw Chapter of Coastal Conservation Association South Carolina will stage its annual fundraising banquet at Sunnyside Plantation, a perfect setting under vintage mossy oak trees overlooking the inlet.
The Waccamaw Chapter has proven to be one of the top chapters in the Palmetto State, as the banquet raised a whopping $96,000 a year ago, according to chapter chairman Chris Hawley.
The funds raised go to ongoing programs and projects along South Carolina coast along with CCA’s advocacy work.
“The money raised at the banquet, it goes to all that habitat work and advocacy work,” said Scott Whitaker, executive director of CCA South Carolina. “It’s very unique to say the money raised from our local chapters, it stays right here in South Carolina for those kind of projects.”
CCA teams with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources on tangible projects that have an impact locally such as the South Carolina Oyster Restoration and Enhancement (SCORE) program and the establishment and enhancement of artificial reefs in the Atlantic Ocean.
The SCORE program, which involves establishing strategic new oyster reefs in estuaries along the S.C. coast, has been particularly prolific.
Whitaker says over 3,000 volunteers have deployed 29,950 bushels of used oyster shell weighing 681 tons on 136 reefs at 50 sites while using CCA-donated equipment.
Some of the sites are close to home, located in Murrells Inlet and Georgetown’s Winyah Bay.
CCA SC has supplied a bevy of oyster recycling equipment to the SCORE program including five trailers, three barges for oyster reef deployment and a dump truck. The program’s reach has spread inland with three oyster recycling sites now available in non-coastal counties.
Since 2009, six near-shore artificial reef projects have been completed off the S.C. coast, including placing Miss Candace, a 65-foot tugboat, on the North Inlet Reef located off Georgetown County and the Apollo, a 42-foot tugboat, on the Little River Offshore Reef.
The banquet begins at 6 p.m. on March 24, starting with a social hour during which attendees can enjoy drinks, bid on silent-auction items and enter raffles.
The Inlet Affairs-catered dinner is up next before the night is capped by a live auction, which will feature various hunting and fishing trips among other items.
OIFC Spring Kickoff & In-Water Boat Show
Capt. Brant McMullan of Ocean Isle Fishing Center says the OIFC’s Spring Kickoff, scheduled for next weekend March 25-26, is a three-fold event.
First, seminars conducted by outstanding saltwater fishing experts – both local and regional – will be held both days. Second, a store-wide sale on boating and fishing equipment is set for the OIFC both days.
But what sets this free event apart is the in-water boat show at the OIFC, located adjacent to the Intracoastal Waterway in Ocean Isle Beach, N.C.
Boat manufacturers that will have center-consoles on display include Yellowfin, Contender, Freeman, Onslow Bay, See Vee and Invincible.
“It’s an opportunity to get in and ride the top-of-the line center consoles in the industry,” said McMullan, a center-console connoisseur in his own right. “The only other place you can find the name brands we are hosting in the water is at (the Miami International Boat Show), and that’s the biggest boat show in the world.
“Right here at the OIFC, we’ll have 24-to-42 foot boats available. All these boats are recognized as the very best, but they’re all different, and you’ve got them all side-by-side to compare.”
The seminar speakers include Al Fulford (Flounder), McMullan (Kingfish Cup Series), Clay Morphis (Trout and Redfish), Jacky Dufour (Swordfish), Mark Henderson (King Mackerel), Ricky Kellum (Trout) and Joe Seegers (Dolphin).
A used tackle forum will also take place during the event. For more information, visit www.OIFC.com/kickoff or call (910) 575-FISH.
Marshall’s Marine Spring Fling
Another free event is set for Saturday morning at Marshall’s Marine in Georgetown, located at 507 Church Street, which includes seminars and a fish fry.
Those attending will be entered into a drawing to win a four-hour flounder trip with Capt. Jason Burton of Fly Girl Charters and Capt. Englis Glover.
Seminar speakers include Capt. J Baisch of Fishful Thinking Guide Service, Burton of Murrells Inlet Fishing Center, Capt. Fred Rourke of Sweet Tea Charters, Capt. Robert Strickland of Crazy Sister Marina and Capt. Randall Robinson of Crazy Sister Marina.
Event organizers ask attendees to donate used rod and reels if possible for an upcoming kids fishing program. A donation is not required to attend the event.
The event is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, call (843) 655-5459.
Gregg Holshouser: email@example.com
If you go
What: Coastal Conservation Association Waccamaw Chapter's Annual Banquet.
Where: Sunnyside Plantation, located at 3741 Hwy. 17 Business, Murrells Inlet.
When: Friday, March 24, 6 p.m.
Tickets: $60 for individuals, $85 for couples and include a year’s membership to CCA. Sponsorships are available.