It all came together perfectly for the Georgetown Wahoo Challenge last weekend, with tranquil seas and a record number of entries in the tournament.
The Game Hawg Fishing Team gave credence to the high-speed trolling method for wahoo with a two-fish aggregate of 111.4-pounds to win the tournament staged out of Georgetown Landing Marina.
Jerry Fehlig, of Conway, and Joey Arakas, owner of Joe’s Bar and Grill in North Myrtle Beach, are partners aboard the 32 Contender with twin 300 Yamahas provided by Sportsman’s Choice Marine in Longs.
Game Hawg’s big day was last Friday, highlighted by a 70.5-pound wahoo to go with a 40.9-pounder to complete the winning aggregate.
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Pawley Girl was second with an 81.9-pound aggregate and Big Sky was third at 78.7 pounds as the field swelled to 41 boats, a record for the event as a total of 67 wahoo were weighed in.
Boats were allowed to fish one of two days, last Friday or Saturday, but Game Hawg submitted two entry fees and fished both days.
The five-man crew, including Fehlig and his sons Watson and Wade, Arakas and Allen Cooper, caught four wahoo both days, but Friday was when they ran across big fish.
With Wade Fehlig at the helm, the crew trolled high-speed lures, including Ballyhood, Bost and custom-made lures, from the Georgetown Hole to the Winyah Scarp.
“(Trolling) speed depends on sea conditions, between 12 and 18 mph,” said Jerry Fehlig.
The bite of the day came on a Bost lure, with Cooper serving as the angler on a 50-wide Shimano reel.
“The bite is pretty ferocious when you’re going that fast with a fish that big,” said Jerry Fehlig. “It’s a cool bite. It usually takes 5-15 minutes to get the fish on gaff. It was closer to 15 than five with this fish. That’s a good fish. We put two gaffs (by Joey and Watson) in that fish to make sure we got it in the boat.
“We weren’t thinking much about how big it was until we got him in the boat. Until you get him in the boat you gotta keep your game face on. There was a lot of hollering and high fives when it hit the deck.”
The Game Hawg Fishing Team is a regular competitor in Southern Kingfish Association and Kingfish Cup king mackerel tournaments, along with various wahoo tournaments, but this is the first time they’ve finished in the winner’s circle.
“I’ve been second a lot,” said Jerry Fehlig, who said the team finished third in the event two years ago. “We were due.”
The victory earned the crew over $16,000 in the tournament, sponsored by Georgetown’s Tailwalker Marine.
“It’ll pay for some fuel,” said Jerry Fehlig.
Murrells Inlet’s Spanish Mackerel Derby will be held next weekend, Aug. 24-25, based out of the Mullet Hut on the Marshwalk. The tournament has deep pockets for the 8th annual edition, including over $20,000 in cash and prizes. For more information, call Robert Thompson at 843-602-0910.