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March 6, 2008

New state records for white grunt, sheepshead

One marine game fish record was recently dismantled, and another record added to the list with recent catches of a sheepshead and a white grunt by two S.C. anglers.

Sean Murphy, of Myrtle Beach, caught a 3 pound white grunt on February 2nd off of Murrells Inlet, which adds a record for this species to the marine game fish list.  Jimmy Widener, of Hanahan, caught a 16 pound, 6 ounce sheepshead on March 1st in the Wando River to claim the new state record by a mere 10 ounces.

Murphy, 36, ventured out from Murrells Inlet to the Bill Perry artificial reef site, approximately 30 miles offshore, for a day of fishing with his family. Fishing specifically for black seabass, Murphy was using shrimp pieces for bait on a J-hook weighted bottom rig, and an Otter Banks 6-foot rod with an Okuma Gold reel when he landed the record white grunt catch. The 3 pound white grunt was the exact minimum weight that is accepted as a state record. The species was added to the S.C. State Record Marine Game Fish list in 2002, and remained unclaimed until Murphy’s recent catch. Murphy noted that he had not seen a grunt of this size before, and doubting its identity, contacted the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for clarification. DNR biologist David Player came to identify Murphy’s catch, and reported the record to the Marine Resources Division in Charleston.

Widener, 38, was fishing on the Wando River with his friend and captain, Steve O’Neil of Summerville on March 1st when he caught the record sheepshead. They were anchored in Berford’s Creek when Widener landed the 16-pound, 6-ounce sheepshead. He was fishing with a Penn rod and reel combo, using a weighted blue crab for bait. Widener’s catch tops the previous marine game fish state record holder for sheepshead by 10 ounces, which was set by Douglas Hover of James Island in 2001.

Check the current listing of S.C.’s State Record Marine Game fish or contact Program Coordinator Amy Dukes with the Office of Fisheries Management, DukesA@dnr.sc.gov, or call at (843) 953-9365.

DNR protects and manages South Carolina’s natural resources by making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the state’s natural resources and its people.

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