Choppy seas kept most of the 22 boats entered in the 14th annual Hilton Head Harbor Wahoo Shootout from fishing this week, but the windy conditions didn’t stop Team Renegade from Mount Pleasant.
Capt. Stuart Lackey’s team dug out a 62.4-pound wahoo Saturday to win the Shootout and clinch the title in the S.C. Wahoo Series. Hilton Head’s Capt. Blair Willis and Team A Live One finished second in the Shootout with a 20-pounder caught Wednesday, and it looked like it might hold up.
But Renegade was able to endure the rough seas Saturday and reel in the winner, claiming more than $32,000 in prize money by sweeping both the Shootout and Series titles.
“This is our 14th year, and this is the only year that we’ve had difficulty getting the guys out,” tournament director Marc Pincus said. “It’s unprecedented. But I give a lot of credit to the guys who actually did go and actually pulled one. They earned every bit of it.”
A record 128 boats entered this year’s Wahoo Series, in which anglers pick just two fishing days from early-February to mid-April, then fish one more day during the week-long Shootout, which serves as the series finale and a last chance to move up the leaderboard.
Renegade totaled 154 pounds for two fish in the Series – including an 88.3-pound monster – and added the 64.2-pounder on the final day of the Shootout.
“We were in first place and we knew we need to try to stay there,” Lackey said. “Plus, we’ve all been fishing a long time, so we’re kind of used to it.”
It was a tough pill to swallow for last year’s Shootout champs, Team Gross Tonnage out of McClellanville, who often fished alongside the Renegade and watched firsthand as they missed out on the fish that won this year’s Series title and the $25,000 payday that went with it but only made it 10 miles offshore on the final day before turning back when waves started crashing over the bow of their boat.
“I fished beside him both days, so not only did he beat us, but I was right there,” Capt. Gardner McClellan said. “I saw him win this tournament. I watched both of them come over the rail. That’s pouring salt in the wound right there.”
Capt. Trae Everett and Team Reelist out of St. Helena Island landed a tournament-record 105.5-pound lunker on his first fishing day but could only manage a 36.5-pounder on day two to finish fourth overall.
“South Carolina showed it’s got some world-class wahoo fishing here,” Pincus said. “Right now we’re the only tournament in the world that I know of that weighed one over 100 pounds this year, and you’re talking about Jacksonville and the Bahamas, and some pretty fishy places. South Carolina, man. I’m real proud of that.”