Outdoors column: Quality, not quantity for Myrtle Beach winner

Out of 14 flounder caught by Bert Williams and his local crew of bankers, just one was a keeper. But that one keeper was a real good one, good enough to win the Grand Strand Saltwater Anglers Association’s Spring Flounder Tournament Saturday in Murrells Inlet.

The 41-year-old Williams, a Myrtle Beach resident and native of Garden City, was fishing with banking buddies Greg Suggs of Conway and Brian Ferguson of Myrtle Beach in Suggs’ 17-foot Scout during the 13th annual tournament.

The trio was using two-hook rigs with mud minnows for bait, and fishing in the vicinity of Marlin Quay as the tide approached dead low.

“We were about to go out to Charlie Cut, but we decided we were going to give it 15 more minutes,” recalled Williams. “At 12:55, I gave it one more cast and slowly reeled it in, and it hit it. I could tell it was a decent size fish. When we saw how big it was we got pretty excited.”

Williams noted the other 13 flounder the trio caught all measured about 12-13 inches, just below South Carolina’s minimum size limit of 14 inches.

Later in the afternoon, the flounder tipped the scales at 5.65 pounds and wound up being easily the largest caught in the tournament, good for the first prize of $1,500.

“It was fun, it was the biggest one I’ve ever caught,” said Williams. “We were at the right place at the right time. There’s just so much luck involved in (winning the tournament). You never know where that big one is going to be laying.”

Charles Beverly of Myrtle Beach finished second with a 4.30-pounder which earned $600. Scott Wilkerson of Orrum, N.C. finished third ($300) with a 3.40-pounder, Phylis Baynes of Conway was fourth ($275) with a 2.45-pounder and Shaun Bess of Murrells Inlet was fifth ($250) with a 2.40-pounder.

Five-year-old Cullen “Cullpepper” Gerace of Murrells Inlet won the Youth Division with a 1.85-pound, 16-inch fish that earned $150. Ethan Brekke of Myrtle Beach and Ava Heise of Murrells Inlet tied for second each with a 1.75-pounder, with both winning a rod-and-reel.

A total of 209 anglers fished in the tournament, the largest number in the 13-year history of the event.

A total of 68 fish were weighed in, 59 by adult anglers and nine by youth anglers.

Super snowy

Jeff Martini and his crew aboard Dirty Martini, a 30-foot Robalo, headed way offshore – 80 miles south of Little River – last weekend and caught a memorable Snowy grouper.

The fish, caught by John McLaurin of Columbus County, N.C., on cut squid, weighed 38 pounds on a scale on the boat and 34 pounds back on shore. The current state record is a 30-pound, 3-ounce Snowy caught in 2011 off Charleston.

So, a new state record has been set, right? Well, no. The problem is an electric reel was used to bring the fish to the surface, as the crew was fishing in over 600 feet of water for the deep-water grouper species. The use of the electric reel disqualifies the catch from state record consideration.

The Dirty Martini crew also caught gray tilefish and dolphin on the trip.

Waccamaw Audubon Society

The local chapter has two events scheduled next week.

On Wednesday, the chapter will meet at 8 a.m. at the Hampton Plantation Historic Site on the South Santee River just north of McClellanville for a birding and historic walk with ranger Mary Mikulla. The chapter will hold a general meeting Thursday at 6 p.m. at Christ The Servant Lutheran Church on U.S. 501 in Conway. The speaker will be Andrea Demuth, curator at Brookgreen Gardens, who will discuss butterfly conservation. For more information, visit www.waccamawaudubon.org.

Far Out Shootout

The Ocean Isle Fishing Center is staging this event targeting the offshore trio of dolphin, wahoo and tuna. Boats can fish one out of eight days from May 10 through May 17.

The Dinner and Captains Meeting will be held at 8 p.m. on May 9 at the OIFC Wing & Fish Company, located at 4764 Main Street in Shallotte, N.C. The Wing & Fish Company will also be the site of the Awards Ceremony and Dinner at 9 p.m. on May 17.

For more information, call 910-575-3474 or visit www.oifc.com.

Gator Season

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources will begin accepting online applications for the 2014 Public Alligator Hunting season and the Wildlife Management Area (WMA) Alligator Hunting Season at www.dnr.sc.gov/wildlife/alligator/index.html.

More than 100,000 alligators live from the Midlands to the coast of South Carolina and the population is not threatened by the regulated removal of a relatively small number of alligators. Last year, hunters took 452 alligators during the public alligator hunting season, with the average size being eight and a half feet in length.

A $10 nonrefundable application fee is required to apply for the Public Lands Hunt and a $15 nonrefundable application fee is charged to apply for the WMA Alligator Hunt. A randomized computer drawing based on a preference point system will determine the selection of hunters. Applicants can only apply and pay fees online or at one of the walk-up counters at a S.C. DNR Regional Office in Clemson, Florence, Columbia, or Charleston. No paper applications will be accepted. This year’s season will begin at noon on Sept. 13 and run until noon on Oct. 11. The deadline to apply is June 15th.

Boat show

The Freedom Boat Club of the Grand Strand is hosting a boat show on Saturday at Boardwalk Billy’s Restaurant, at 1407 13th Ave. North, located at The Marina at Dock Holiday’s, in North Myrtle Beach.

The event, scheduled for noon to 6 p.m., will feature numerous boats on display both in the water and on trailers including Former President George H.W. Bush’s 38-foot Fountain center console. Several competitive king mackerel fishing teams are expected to be on hand.

“We are expecting more than a dozen fishing teams from around the area to display boats at this show,” said Chris Speckman of Freedom Boat Club. “It is a great way to meet fishermen and see a variety of sport fishing boats.”

For more information, call 843-399-8711.