After long fight, local fishing crew hauls in catch of a lifetime

Capt. Danny Juel and Capt. T.J. Nixon of Fish Screamer Charters in Little River show off the 115-pound wahoo they caught on April 29.
Capt. Danny Juel and Capt. T.J. Nixon of Fish Screamer Charters in Little River show off the 115-pound wahoo they caught on April 29. Submitted photo

Capt. Danny Juel of Fish Screamer Charters was fishing a bottom spot 45 miles southeast of Little River in 90 feet of water last Saturday for the typical reef species such as grouper, vermilion snapper, black sea bass and triggerfish.

As usual, Juel and his mate for the day, fellow Capt. T.J. Nixon, also deployed what Juel called a “light line” for any marauding pelagic species attracted to the action around the boat.

“We had that light line out for whatever would eat it,” said Juel.

When something did eat the dead sardine used for bait on the light line a little before 10 a.m., Juel immediately knew this wasn’t your ordinary pelagic.

“He took about every drop of line I had (on the reel), 150 yards or more,” said Juel. “I told T.J. that has to be a wahoo, that’s the only fish that will run like that.”

A member of Juel’s crew for the day took the rod and the battle was on, with the fish on an Avet reel loaded with 40-pound line on a Shakespeare rod, a standard set-up for king mackerel.

Although Juel had a good idea what he was hooked up with, it was over an hour before he knew for sure.

“We fought the fish for an hour and five minutes when he rolled up behind the boat,” recalled Juel. “We said ‘Whoa man, that’s a heckuva wahoo.’ We got lucky and got him.”

Juel gaffed the fish but quickly realized he needed help from Nixon getting it over the gunwale. That afternoon at Juel’s home marina – Hurricane Fleet Marina in Calabash, N.C. – the wahoo weighed 115 pounds even on certified scales.

“I’m sure he lost some weight, we put him in the boat at 11 a.m.,” said Juel.

One thing is for sure, it was the wahoo of a lifetime, even for a veteran fisherman like Juel.

“I’ve been fishing 40 years in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and a lot in the Bahamas when I lived in Florida,” said Juel. “I’ve caught a lot of wahoo, several in the 80-pound range, but never one like that.”

The fish measured 73 inches long with a 34-inch girth.

The North Carolina state record for wahoo is a 150-pounder caught by Kevin Elwell out of Ocracoke in 1994. The South Carolina state record for wahoo is a 130-pound, 5-ounce fish landed by R.J. Moore out of Murrells Inlet in 1998.

Far Out Shoot Out

The Far Out Shoot Out, staged by Ocean Isle Fishing Center, opens Saturday, with competing boats able to fish one of 15 days through May 20.

But a gale warning was in effect Friday morning, and Monday looks like the next fishable day for boats to get offshore to catch the event’s target species, wahoo, dolphin and tuna.

The event was originally scheduled for an eight-day run but was extended to 15 days by tournament director Capt. Brant McMullan on Thursday.

For more information, call 910-575-3474 or visit www.OIFC.com/FOSO.

S.C. Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series

The 2017 South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series kicks off next week with the Bohicket Marina Invitational Billfish Tournament.

Fishing days in the tournament are Thursday through Saturday, May 11-13. Bohicket Marina is located at 1880 Andell Bluff Blvd. in John’s Island, south of Charleston.

Next up in the series is a historic event – the 50th Annual Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament out of Georgetown Landing Marina May 24-27. For more information, call 843-546-1776.

Meatfish Slam

The 9th Annual Meatfish Slam, also out of Georgetown Landing Marina, was originally scheduled for April 27-29 but was postponed.

As of Thursday afternoon, a make-up date had not been set.

Southern Redfish Cup

The series makes a stop at Harbourgate Marina in North Myrtle Beach, with fishing set for Saturday. Weigh-in opens at 3:30 p.m. at the marina.

The series returns to the area on Sept. 9 with a stop in Georgetown.

Gregg Holshouser: wholshouser@sc.rr.com