Any time is a good time to catch a doormat, but the timing was absolutely impeccable for a trio of Murrells Inlet fishing buddies competing in the 2018 Murrells Inlet Rotary Flounder Tournament.
The trio of Chase Limehouse, Brunson Miller and Dennis Lee Smith weighed in a 7.25-pound, 26.5-inch flounder to win the 15th annual tournament and about $1,600 in prize money last Saturday at Crazy Sister Marina.
The trio started their day by securing six dozen mud minnows from Baisch Boys Bait and Tackle in Murrells Inlet, and then headed out on Limehouse's 16-foot High Tide.
Smith noted they were trolling the mud minnows on "double-hook, old-timer rigs, with a few adjustments."
They were working a very popular spot on the north end of the inlet, when fate intervened and they realized they had hooked up with a huge flounder - a doormat - that was now at boatside.
"The first thought was 'Get it in the boat,' " said Smith. "The next reaction was 'You probably won't ever see another one like that fishing with a rod and reel.' It was once in a lifetime, especially fishing in a tournament. It was about as good a timing as you can get."
The trio are frequent competitors in the two major flounder tournaments in the inlet - the Rotary event and the Grand Strand Saltwater Anglers event in April.
"We've been fishing in them for six years now and we're usually right there at the top," said Smith. "We've come close in a lot of them. It was nice to win one."
Bill Blakely finished second with a three-fish aggregate of 8.14 pounds, followed by Chris Stanley with a 3.61-pounder.
Michael Stutts was fourth with a 3.4-pounder and Coleman Bess fifth with a 3.27-pounder.
Ava Heise was the top Lady Angler with a 2.28-pounder. Ethan Schamuse was the top Youth Angler with a 1.95-pounder, Pheonix Brunko was second with a 1.66-pounder followed by Breanna Williford with a 1.25-pounder.
The proceeds from the tournament benefit community service projects supported by the Murrells Inlet Rotary, which hosts the tournament.
CCA Oyster Recycling Project
The local Waccamaw Chapter of Coastal Conservation Association South Carolina will continue an ongoing oyster reef enhancement project in Murrells Inlet on Tuesday.
The group of volunteers will place oyster shell on a site adjacent to Crazy Sister Marina in an area that sees heavy boat traffic. This is the fourth time the group has placed used oyster shell on the site.
Volunteers are encouraged to help with the latest oyster reef enhancement event. The group will meet Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. at the Murrells Inlet public boat ramp, with the event lasting until approximately 3:30 p.m.
For more information on assisting with the event, contact Chris Hawley at 843-455-0371.
The project is a continuation of a cooperative program between CCA SC and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources' SCORE (South Carolina Oyster Restoration and Enhancement) program.
Through 2017, the partnership has resulted in nearly 36,000 bushels of oyster shells used to construct or enhance 52 oyster reef sites in South Carolina estuary waters.
The new reefs are composed of primarily recycled South Carolina oyster shell, which is provided by restaurants and private citizens, mainly at shell drop-off sites located along the coast and inland as well.
The shell is natural material for spat, or oyster larvae, to attach to, thus creating new oysters. The reefs are created at strategic locations where new oyster beds are needed along the shoreline, to prevent erosion and create new oyster reef habitat.