Charleston’s Fish Sticks Boat Wins SC Wahoo Series | Sin

One of the smallest boats in the 2022 South Carolina Wahoo Series came home with the tournament top prize of $35,000. Fish Sticks, a 23ft Seacraft skippered by Gifford Scott of John’s Island, was the winning boat in the tournament which ended on April 17.

Virtually assured of a top-five spot after using two of their three days of fishing, Scott and his crew headed out to sea on April 11 for their final day of fishing and caught a 71.6-pound wahoo which catapulted them to the front row.






Fish Sticks is the winning boat in the 2022 SC Wahoo series, landing this 42.7-pound wahoo on April 3. Pictured are Drew DeMasi (left to right), Palmer Freshly and Kinley Durant. Supplied/Capt. Gifford Scott


Fish Sticks’ winning weight was 177.4 pounds in the tournament in which a team’s two heaviest fish over three days of fishing count towards the overall total. The crew landed a 105.8-pound wahoo on March 28, caught a 42.7-pound catch on April 3 before adding the fish that took them past Kalli Kat, commanded by Larry Mullis or Ridgeville. Kalli Kat finished fishing on March 14 with 167.0 pounds, landing a 99.7 pound wahoo on the final day.

“You have to choose your days, and that’s what this tournament is designed for. It worked well this year,” Scott said of a small participating boat.

Scott, a 34-year-old fishing guide (scflatsfishing.com), has fished the SC Wahoo series for several years, but only the last three in his 23 Seacraft. His crew members who turned days on the boat during the competition included Drew DeMasi, Cotes Simons Jr., Joe Benton, Ethan Frye, Palmer Freshly and Kinley Durant.


Record fish among the big catches in the SC Wahoo series

“I thought it was one of the big heavyweight battles. They fought it all the way. We had an outstanding year with some really nice fish,” said SC Wahoo Series President Marc Pincus. The tournament had 162 participants.

Scott knew his team was in position to do well after their first day of fishing, March 28, when they sailed the 105.8-pound wahoo, one of the two-hundred-pound wahoos caught during the tournament.

“It wasn’t the greatest day in the world. I would say it’s moderate but tolerable,” he said. “We went out and had a trolling shot but we didn’t get it, then this one hit a decoy.

“The fish caught a good end of the line, so we thought it would be a good fish. We’ve never caught such a big one, but we’ve caught a good fish. Cotes was on the rod when we cast him. we goofed and I got it on board,” Scott continued.

“When that fish came up to the surface and we saw it, the whole boat went very quiet. Drew did a good job directing the fish and Joe goofed it. When we got him on board, I think there was about another 10 seconds of quiet disbelief and then excitement. It was pretty wild. We walked straight in and weighed it.

Scott said he caught a 96-pound wahoo last year and knew he was in that size range “but having him smash 100 pounds was a real treat.”

The second fish, a catch of 42.7 pounds on April 3, propelled Fish Sticks into third place and Scott said he was confident they would stay in the top 11 (who won checks), but their total was still beatable.

April 11, the last day of fishing for Fish Sticks, started with a lot of wind and competition.

“There were 69 boats fishing the tournament that day and that doesn’t include the other boats fishing there, so it was pretty busy,” Scott said. “It was very busy with lots of people trying to catch fish in a fairly small area. And the bite didn’t last long for us.”

They lost a fish early, checked their rig, then went back and got another shot which turned out to be the 71.6 pound fish. They fished a little longer and caught one more fish before heading to Toler’s Cove to weigh their catch.

“It wasn’t a super long fish, but a really big fish, so it was a bit difficult to judge. We were confident we were going to go up, but we didn’t know how high,” Scott said. And, he added, even after finding out they had moved into first place, there were still other boats with an opportunity to catch them.

“I love the format. It’s super competitive with different size boats. We were in pretty good shape, but it’s a pretty nerve-wracking tournament,” Scott said.

Scott said one of the advantages of fishing a small boat is that it doesn’t burn as much expensive fuel as some of its bigger competitors.

In addition to the $35,000 grand prize, Fish Sticks won an additional $4,000 for finishing second in the heaviest wahoo TWT (tournament within a tournament).

Second-placed Kallie Kat won a total of $17,700.

The biggest winner was third-placed Reel Labor, led by Chapin’s Mark Pate, with 162.3 pounds, including the biggest wahoo in series history, 119.3 pounds. Reel Labor took home a total of $45,500 to $10,000 for finishing third; $22,000 for winning the High Roller TWT (the biggest fish in the tournament); $6,900 for winning the Wahoo TWT; and $6,600 for winning day one’s TWT.

Also finishing in the money: It Ain’t Easy, Jon Cameron, Murrells Inlet, 143.5, $7,000; Midnight Rider, Adam Brown, Murrells Inlet, 128.5, $5,500; The Cure, Clinton Beck, John’s Island, 127.0, $4,000; Stranglehold, Chas Shiels, Statesboro, Georgia, 119.1, $2,500; Riff Raff, Rob Holmes, Mount Pleasant, 113.1, $2,000; Unnamed, Ted Joye, Charleston, 108.2, $1,500; Stocks and Blondes, Michael Schiess, Pawleys Island, 107.5, $1,200; Fish Meister, Russell Spathold, calabash, 107.4, $1000.

Beaufort’s Full Hookups won the Mahi TWT and $7,900 with a catch of 35.5 pounds; High Yield took home $8,700 with a 31.9-pound black fin in the Tuna TWT; and Mas Pescado won the Amberjack TWT and $3,000 with a catch of 56.2 pounds.

Kalli Mullis, aboard Kalli Kat from Ridgeville, was the top youngster (167.0 pounds) and top angler (99.7 pounds). Jack Walker, aboard Vitamin Sea, was the top senior with a 43.6 pound wahoo.

Big daily gainers included: Day 1, Reel Labor, 119.3; Day 2, Healing, 88.4; and day 3, Swedish fish, 71.4.

SC Mahi Series

The Captains Meeting for the 2022 SC Mahi Series (scmahiseries.com) will be held from 1-4 p.m. on April 30 at the Pioneer Boat Factory, located at 208 Upchurch Lane in Walterboro.

Fishing days are May 1-28, with boats allowed to choose two fishing days and weigh two mahi (dolphins) each day. The two heaviest dolphins in a boat count towards the winner’s prize of $15,000.

Charleston Inshore Fishermen

The 29th annual “Big Ed” Sheepshead Charleston Inshore Fisherman’s Tournament will be fished April 30. The weigh-in will also take place at post 147 from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. on April 30. The tournament entry fee is $40. Contact Kevin Mischke at 843-324-1006; Nick Kvestad at 843-557-2811 or Gene Broderick at 843-224-6826.

American yacht club

America’s Boating Club Charleston will be holding boating safety courses April 30 and May 14 at 1376 Orange Grove Road, Charleston. Classes start at 9 a.m. and end around 4 p.m. Successful participants are awarded the SC Department of Natural Resources Boater Education Card. Cost is $25 for adults and youth 12-18 are free. Call 843-312-2876 or email fearlessness.

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