The 60-mile stretch of Carolina coastline known as the Grand Strand is lined with excellent seafood restaurants. But for the freshest catches and best times on the high seas, nothing beats the all-you-can-catch buffet you can only find a few miles offshore. Thanks to the many charter boats and guide services that sail out of the Strand every day and return loaded down with big ones from the sea, Compass Cove Resort guests can easily enjoy a fun day of deep sea fishing in the Atlantic Ocean.
Sure, you and your group can go to a local fishing pier or surf-fishing spot and try to hook some of the smaller species that swim close to the coast, but the real fun is in offshore sport fishing. If you want to land a big one, you have to go to the Gulf Stream where they live and feed — and the experienced captains and crews that operate local charter boats know how to find them. They will even bait your hook, help you cast and take your catch off the line so you can go back to fishing for more.
Most local outfitters offer half-day, full-day and even overnight charters that provide all the equipment, gear, tackle and licensing you need to enjoy a day of fishing on the high seas. Full-day tours make the 90-mile journey to the Gulf Stream — the underwater current of warm water traveled by the big sport fish and bottom-dwellers. Using high-tech fish finders and the best equipment, a good charter service will put you in the right place at the right time to bag some big ones, including snapper, grouper, sea bass, tuna, king mackerel and more.
Half-day tours don't travel as far off the coast as the Gulf Stream trips, but they do put you in some active areas for fishing. No matter what type of fishing you are looking for, you can find it along the Grand Strand. Here are some of the most popular outfitters for an action-packed day of ocean angling:
* Capt. Dick's: Sailing out of Crazy Sister Marina in Murrells Inlet, this experienced outfitter features several boats and trip options, including shark fishing, offshore and even a unique 3/4-day tour for those torn between a full- and half-day excursion. For more information, visit www.crazysister.com.
* Express Watersports: This Murrells Inlet-based outfitter offers a wide range of water-sports activities, such as parasailing, jet-ski rentals and banana boat rides. But their specialty is deep sea fishing and dolphin-watching cruises. For more information, check out www.expresswatersports.com.
* Fish Hook Charters: Operating two boats for sport fishing, trolling and bottom fishing — the 34-foot Fish Hook I and the 43-foot Fish Hook II — this North Myrtle Beach-based outfit has more than 25 years of experience of putting passengers in the middle of all the action. For more information, visit www.fishhookcharters.com.
* Hurricane Fleet: Sail out of the “Seafood Capital of the World” (Calabash, NC) aboard the Hurricane I or Hurricane II. The location and speed of these boats provide a quicker trip to the Gulf Stream. The ships sail out of the Calabash River near the famous seafood restaurants, so you can always get a great dinner even if you strike out at sea. For more information, visit www.hurricanefleet.com.
* Voyager Deep Sea Fishing: Sailing out of The Marina at Dock Holidays in North Myrtle Beach, this outfit features some of the finest vessels on the Strand, including a new, 100-foot Continental Shelf and the state-of-the-art Super Voyager III. To make reservations, visit www.supervoyagerdeepseafishing.com.
After a long day at sea, return back to dry land and your vacation headquarters at Compass Cove Resort to relax and recover. And if you don’t manage to fill the boat with big ones, you can always stop at one of the many nearby seafood buffets and catch a great dinner the easy way.