The arrival of prime fishing season coupled with nearly perfect weather makes this an excellent time to explore the deep seas around Charleston. And just in time, as area fishing charter companies have suffered at the hand of the COVID-19 stay at home restrictions.
In our area, there are two ways to reel in a catch from the ocean: trolling or bottom fishing.
“Trolling is fishing with the boat in motion, dragging baited lines on top of the water behind the boat,” explained the folks at Charleston Fishing Charters. Trolling allows a fisherman to target large species. When a fish gets hooked, the experience is thrilling — a battle of wills with the fish often soaring in the air. Trolling is considered to be the traditional and true method of sportfishing.
Bottom fishing, on the other hand, is fishing when the boat is not in motion. Vessels will hover over an identified ocean reef and drop baited lines to the bottom. Many fish can be caught more quickly, and they are the smaller but tasty species like grouper, sea bass, or snapper.
“It’s important for people to understand that deep sea fishing is completely different from in-shore fishing,” said John Madden, owner of Wahoo Fishing Charters LLC. “We aren’t looking around for fish. We research and track the locations of the fish and know exactly where to find them.”
He explained that May and June are the peak months for catching mahi, billfish, marlin, sailfish, tuna, and wahoo. Madden is excited to see a return of yellowfin tuna to the area. “They have been nonexistent in Charleston for the last 15 years,” he said. “And now they are coming back. We caught 10 last Saturday and another dozen two weeks ago.”
Captain Ron Walker of Sea Walker Fishing Charters LLC also is enthusiastic about this year’s catch. “The dolphin bite has been really good, as well as tuna and wahoo. We are seeing some marlin and sailfish action as well.”
Madden oversees three fishing charter boats: the Git R Done, a 58-foot vessel with the capacity for six passengers; the Wahoo!, a 48-foot boat for six passengers, and the recently purchased 48-foot Teaser 2.
The Teaser 2 is an iconic fishing boat and an important part of the history and seascape of Shem Creek, noted Madden. Purchased last June from seasoned captain Mark Brown, the boat was custom designed to hold 20 people and is laid out perfectly for bottom fishing. The Teaser 2 is the only Coast Guard inspected charter vessel in Charleston that is certified to carry more than six passengers.
COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on bookings for fishing charter excursions. Between the company’s three boats, Wahoo Fishing Charters lost 120 reservations due to cancellations. Now that restrictions have loosened, Madden said that he wants customers to feel comfortable and, if requested, the crew is prepared to practice social distancing on the boat. The captain drives the boat from the top and customers can request the level of hands-on assistance they would like from the crew.
At Sea Walker Fishing Charters, Captain Walker added, “We are following all CDC recommendations; cleaning and sanitizing before and after every trip. We are trying to take every precaution to keep our customers and crew safe.”
Despite a delayed start, Madden is anxious to get the season underway. “We love showing people a great time … watching their eyes pop out when they catch a big one! Our goal is to show customers the time of their life.”
To book a charter with one of the three boats from Wahoo Fishing Charters, visit charlestonfishing.net or call 843-991-7557.
Additional area fishing charters:
Charleston Sport Fishing Charters
Climb aboard Reel Interest, a 56-foot Ocean Yacht
Sportfisher located in Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant,
operated by Captain Steve Smith. 843-278-1861
Tide Down Sport Fishing
Deep sea fishing and cruises on a custom 50-foot Carolina
boat, located in Ripley Light Marina, Charleston. 843-593-4920
Fin Stalker Charters
Owned and operated by Captain Chris Chavis, a Charleston native. Inshore and offshore packages are available. 843-509-9972
Benchmark Fishing Charters
Captain Bobby Garmany navigates a 57-foot custom Carolina boat out of Toler’s Cove Marina in Mount Pleasant. 864-554-6699