‘One of a kind’: ‘Big Dave’ left lasting impression on Murrells Inlet fishing family

Susan Huntley Claud and David Altman at Big Dave's Bait & Tackle in Murrells Inlet.
Susan Huntley Claud and David Altman at Big Dave's Bait & Tackle in Murrells Inlet. Courtesy of Susan Huntley Claud

The little bait and tackle shop on U.S. 17 Business right across from the Murrells Inlet waterfront and just down from the boat ramp is suddenly dormant, but its memory will live on among members of the Murrells Inlet fishing community.

David Altman, known as “Big Dave” and the owner/operator of Big Dave’s Bait & Tackle, passed away from natural causes unexpectedly on Jan. 18.

Appropriately, Altman was laid to rest under the massive, mossy oaks at Belin Memorial United Methodist Cemetery, across the street from the inlet and just a 1/4-mile up the road from his shop.

A native of Georgetown, Altman was the perfect bait shop owner for the inlet, always ready with Southern hospitality to offer fishing advice or help his customers in any way.

Aside from the regular business of a bait and tackle shop, Big Dave’s was a gathering spot for fishermen or simply locals to share a cup of coffee, a few fishing tales or the intricacies of catching fish.

Bryan Claud and his wife, Susan Huntley Claud, are avid saltwater anglers and part-time Murrells Inlet residents who patronized Big Dave’s for their fishing needs.

“Big Dave will truly be missed by all the fishermen in the inlet,” said Susan Huntley Claud. “He was not just a friend, but he was thought of as part of our inlet family.

“Fishing is not just about catching fish, it is about the whole experience, and Big Dave was part of that experience, from putting that minnow on the hook to calling Dave and reporting our catch for the day.”

Capt. Jeff Maples, operator of Reel Salty Charters, first fished in Murrells Inlet in 1988 when he was in the Air Force, and became friends with Altman five years ago when he opened his guide service.

Maples, like many other guides in the inlet, operates his trips out of the Murrell inlet boat ramp. When cleaning the fish caught on a trip in the boat ramp parking lot was no longer an option, Altman was ready to help out.

“He told me to come on down and clean the fish there at his shop,” said Maples. “I always offered to pay him but he’d take no money. He even helped me clean fish. Numerous times if I had two trips in one day, he would bring bait or ice or whatever I needed (to the boat ramp) for the second trip.

“Anybody and everybody, it didn’t matter if you’d been there one time or 100 times, he’d help you out.”

Altman is the third member of the inlet fishing community to pass away in an untimely manner over the last seven months, along with Jessica Hill of Perry’s Bait and Tackle (Sept. 2017) and Wayne “Squally” Wesley of Boat Restore (June 2017).

“(Big Dave) was one of a kind, that’s for sure,” said Maples. “He’s truly going to be missed not only by me but a lot of people.

“A couple of us (guides) were scratching our heads and thinking what are we going to do this summer? So much has changed in the last six months or so. It’s not going to be the same.”

SALTT seminar

The Student Angler League Tournament Trail is hosting a fishing seminar next Saturday (Feb. 3), with a different twist.

The SALTT is a tournament trail staged out of Georgetown that features teams from middle and high schools that have the option to fish in red drum or bass categories in each tournament.

Attendees to the seminar will have the same option. Capt. Rayburn Poston, founder and coordinator of the SALTT, will have two seminars at the same time on separate stages, one for saltwater and one for bass fishing.

The lineup of local captains and fishing experts is superb, with numerous fishing subjects being covered.

“I want it to be a seminar that everybody in the area looks forward to,” said Poston.

The seminar will be held from 8 a.m. to noon at St. James Intermediate School, located at 9641 Scipio Lane, Myrtle Beach, SC 29588.

Proceeds from the seminar will benefit the fishing clubs at each school competing in the SALTT.

Tickets are $20 before the seminar and $25 at the door. The event will feature a silent auction, raffle packages and a drawing for a fishing trip with Capt. Jason Burton of Murrells Inlet Fishing Center.

For more information, contact Poston at rayburnposton@gmail.com.

Gregg Holshouser: wholshouser@sc.rr.com

SALTT seminar

The seminar schedule follows:


8 a.m.: Inshore Winter Fishing for Drum, Capts. Dan Connolly and Jerry Condenzio.

8:30 a.m.: Near-Shore Trolling for Mackerel, Capt. Jeff Maples.

9 a.m.: Offshore Trolling for Dolphin and Wahoo, Capts. Jay Sconyers and Russell Baisch.

9:45 a.m.: Inshore Kayak Fishing, Mike Eady and Johnny Wigfall.

10:15 a.m.: Near-Shore Reef Bottom Fishing, Capt. J Baisch.

10:45 a.m.: Offshore Bottom Fishing, Capts. Tommy Werner and Justin Witten.

11:30 a.m.: Inshore Flounder Fishing, Capts. Jason Burton and Adam Goodwin.

Bass Fishing

8 a.m.: Winter Fishing, Conway Bassmasters.

8:30 a.m.: Spring Fishing, Pee Dee Bassmasters.

9 a.m.: Multi Species on the Sampit River, Sampit Bassmasters.

9:45 a.m.: Pre-Trip Planning, Tony Carter.

10:15 a.m.: Organizing The Chaos, Englis Glover.

10:45 a.m.: Tournament Pre-Fishing, Phantom Outdoors.

11:30 a.m.: Q&A Session, Phantom Outdoors.