When the Charleston Inshore Anglers sheepshead tournament rolls around each year, the secret is out that another summer of fishing tournaments is officially under way. Carl Hitchcock of James Island took first place during this year’s 19th annual event, which was held April 31. Hitchcok beat out 150 other anglers to take home the $1,000 payday with his 8.62-pound sheepshead.

Hitchcock was fishing on a 23-foot Sailfish with fishing buddies Chris Rapchick and Ricky Baturin. They left the Remley’s Point boat landing in Mount Pleasant at 6 a.m., and found choppy conditions on their way out to fish the Capers Reef, which subsided to flat calm soon afterwards.

“We were fishing with fiddler crabs for bait and used 2-ounce egg sinkers,” Hitchcock said. “We rigged up 24-inch leaders of 25-pound fluorocarbon, and put the fiddlers on 2-ought Owner mutu light circle hooks.”

After catching 15 smaller sheepshead in 35 feet of water, the winning fish bit at 1 p.m. just after dead low tide.

“I used a Penn Sargus 4000 reel on a Penn rod to bring him up in a slow and steady fight,” Hitchcock explained.

He has fished the CIA tournament for the past three years, so he knew he had a shot to win with this fish and was relieved after the hour-long weigh-in was completed.

Capt. Robert Olsen of Knot at Work Charters finished in second place with his 8.42-pound sheepshead, and took home $500.

“I actually had a charter, and we fished at the 4-KI reef and caught sheepshead all day,” said Olsen, who caught his fish first thing at 7:30 that morning.

Olsen and the three men fishing with him all finished in the top 10.

Sean Nelson, George Morris and Joel Terrebone all work together and had been booked a charter with Olsen before.

Amazingly, the fish Morris caught and took seventh place with was his first ever sheepshead. Terrebone took fourth place with a 7.40-pound fish and Nelson finished in ninth with his 6.66-pound sheepshead.

Steve Joy earned a $200 prize, finishing in third place with an 8.12-pound sheepshead. Roy Hall took fifth place with a 7.24-pound sheepshead. In sixth place was Gary Wilson with a 7.16-pound fish. Eighth place went to Chris Chavis with a 6.78-pound fish, and Butch Day finished 10th with his 6.12-pound sheepshead.

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