It was a family affair in late February aboard Sunshine and Whiskey, Micah Young’s custom-built 27-foot boat, which was launched from the Carroll Campbell Marine Complex in Georgetown.
The plan was to catch Young’s father, John Young, a mess of black sea bass and run the boat in advance of competing in the ongoing South Carolina Wahoo Series.
In late 2021, Micah Young, a Marine Biology teacher at Wilson High School in Florence, headed north from the Winyah Bay jetties to a bottom spot and found a very nice grade of black sea bass, much larger than the 13-inch minimum size limit, in about 40 feet of water.
The Youngs, with Micah’s 15-year-old son Thomas and brother Kevin also aboard, returned to the same spot and quickly found black sea bass were still there, readily hitting mullet and squid, but the fish were a smaller grade.
As usual, Micah Young worked a Bluewater Candy Roscoe jig on the spot soon after they got set up.
“A lot of people use those for black sea bass, especially targeting the big ones. I don’t pull up on any (spot) that I don’t put a jig down — anything will hit them. I always put one down first and give that a whirl while everybody else is fishing with bait.”
After about 15 minutes, Micah Young hooked up with a fish bigger than he expected on the jig in about 40 feet of water.
“To be honest, I’ve heard rumors over the years, especially around Beaufort, of people catching goliath grouper,” said Micah Young, who was using a medium-class setup with a Quantum reel and 20-pound test. “The way the fish was pulling, I couldn’t think of anything else pulling that big in that shallow water. It kept digging in the structure like a 30-40 pound grouper.
“I couldn’t do much, I couldn’t put too much pressure on (the fish). Once we got him off the wreck, he headed north and just went. We had to follow him like you would a really big king.”
After about 30 minutes they finally got a good look at the fish and knew it wasn’t a goliath grouper.
“When we saw it we thought it was a 100-pound redfish,” said Micah Young. “It was gold, a beautiful fish. Then it rolled over and we immediately saw it was a black drum.”
They worked to get the fish in the boat for a quick photo op before the all-important release.
Young estimated the old female spawner weighed 80-90 pounds and was 12 inches thick.
“Going black sea bass fishing and pulling this up, this was just crazy,” said Young. “I’m 6-2, 230 pounds and it was all I could do to hoist that thing up to get a picture.”
Then it was on to the release, as black drum are governed by a 14-27 inch slot limit in South Carolina waters.
“I’ve taught Marine Biology for 22 years, and to make sure that fish survives is important,” said Young. “That fish is probably 50-60 years old. The pic was taken quick — I was adamant we were not going to let her die. We pulled her along with the boat and she kicked and took off. Then we stayed right there where I dropped her.”
Young, 49, has been fishing from Georgetown to Murrells Inlet since he was a youngster, and was exhilarated with the catch and release.
“It took me 40 years to catch a fish like that,” said Young.
On a standard near-shore bottom-fishing trip the Youngs ended up with a catch of a lifetime, and their mess of black sea bass to boot.
The Student Angler League Tournament Trail opened the spring semester of the 2021-22 season last Saturday in Georgetown.
The trail features three tournaments each semester of the school year with all six events based out of the Carroll Campbell Marine Complex on the Sampit River. The student anglers, from elementary to high school, can target bass or red drum in SALTT events.
A cold front with heavy winds was in the offing, but the student anglers weathered the poor conditions and still weighed in numerous quality fish.
The division winners follow:
Elementary School Redfish: Madelyn Taylor of Kensington Elementary won with a big fish of 1.40 pounds. No other anglers weighed fish in the division.
Middle School Redfish: Aden Day and Ayden Rouhselang of Conway won with a two-fish aggregate of 5.08 pounds including the Big Fish at 2.91 pounds. No other anglers weighed fish in the division.
High School Redfish: Cubby Weaver of Georgetown won with a two-fish aggregate of 7.93 pounds including the Big Fish of 4.16 pounds. Mackenzie Hardwick of Hartsville finished second with a two-fish aggregate of 7.54 pounds. Oliver Bomar and Connor Strickland were third with two fish weighing 7.09 pounds.
Elementary School Bass: Hartley Davis of Andrews won with a big fish of 1.43 pounds. No other anglers weighed fish in the division.
Middle School Bass: Branson and Tucker Howell of Conway won with a five-fish aggregate of 12.85 pounds including the big fish of 5.13 pounds. Wilson Hewitt of Georgetown and Tucker Howard of Andrews finished second with a five-fish aggregate of 8.63 pounds. Gunner Hucks of Whittemore Park and Levi Dickerson of Aynor were third with a five-fish aggregate of 6.92 pounds.
High School Bass: Dalton Hewitt and Brantley Todd won with a heavy five-fish aggregate of 18.65 pounds. Gavin Porter of North Myrtle Beach finished second with a five-fish aggregate of 14.43 pounds including the big fish of 4.24 pounds. Riley Harrington of Andrews finished third with a five-fish aggregate of 11.67 pounds.
The next events in the series are set for March 12, March 26 and May 7. For more information about the trail visit www.salttfishing.com.
▪ Seminar: SALTT Director Rayburn Poston is staging a monthly fishing seminar at Harvest Church in Murrells Inlet the second Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m.
The next seminar will be held March 8 with Englis “Capt. E” Glover speaking on Sheepshead fishing.