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Bluefish and Spanish Mackerel are here


Bluefish, Spanish mackerel showing up in near-shore waters

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

April 12, 2018 05:52 PM

Updated April 12, 2018 05:52 PM
Estuary

Look For: Red drum, black drum, flounder, spotted seatrout, sheepshead.

Comments: Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters put a productive trip in the books on Wednesday in the Little River vicinity. “I found a hole with a bunch of spottails and black drum in it,” said Kelly. “We probably caught 20-plus fish, (ranging from) 17-26 inches.” Kelly started by offering Berkeley Gulp baits and mud minnows on 1/4-ounce jig heads, but with little luck. “I switched to fresh cut shrimp and they went to chewing,” said Kelly. “It seems like they were more into scent, being lazy. If you had some soft shell crab (for bait) you’d probably have some really good luck.” Kelly reports catches of flounder are starting up in Cherry Grove Inlet, but most fish are under the 15-inch minimum size limit. Last Saturday, Kelly’s crew caught and released a 7.5-pound spotted seatrout, caught on a mud minnow in the ICW. Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions had success with red drum in Murrells Inlet on Tuesday, fishing in chilly 56-58 degree water. By Thursday at midday, at dead low tide, Connolly observed a water temperature of 61.5 degrees. Connolly reports plenty of flounder in the 14-inch range are being caught in the inlet, with the occasional keeper above the 15-inch minimum size limit.
Inshore
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Look For: Bluefish, Spanish mackerel, black sea bass, weakfish, flounder, whiting, croaker.

Comments: Connolly and his O-Fish-Al Expeditions crew had a very active trip and saw a new arrival on Thursday at Paradise Reef, three miles east of Murrells Inlet. “Some Spanish are starting to show up,” said Connolly. “We caught a ton of bluefish and a stud weakfish that made the leader board at MIFC (Murrells Inlet Fishing Center). We were catching blues on jigs and I had foul hooked a blue. Fifteen feet under the boat, I saw a big gray, yellow back, and two weakfish in the 5-7 pound range were trying to eat my bluefish off my jig. My client dropped a mud minnow down on a jig and caught the weakfish.” The weakfish weight 5.5 pounds. Connolly also noted numerous black sea bass were caught on the trip, most around 12 inches but a handful just a hair under the 13-inch minimum size limit. The ocean water temperature along the beach is on the verge of topping the 60-degree mark for good. Ronnie Goodwin of Cherry Grove Pier reported a surface water temperature of 62 degrees Thursday at 4 p.m., a day after a reading of 59 was recorded. Goodwin reports bluefish and flounder have made a showing on the pier this week, plus the regular whiting and croaker. A few of the flounder measured 14 inches, just under the 15-inch minimum size limit. “They’re catching a decent whiting here and there,” Goodwin said.

Offshore

Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, dolphin, grouper, vermilion snapper, triggerfish, porgy, black sea bass, grunts.

Comments: The South Carolina Wahoo series was on fire earlier this week, topped by a 105.5-pound smoker weighed in by Trae Everett and the crew of Reelist out of St. Helena. Renegade out of Mt. Pleasant weighed in an 88.3-pounder last Friday. Both of those boats still have one fishing day to declare in the tournament which concludes Sunday. With the wahoo bite on, trolling boats are also after blackfin tuna and dolphin. With warmer weather and water on tap, the number and size of dolphin will increase in the next 2-3 weeks as the species moves in from the south and southeast. Bottom, or reef fishing has been excellent, especially in depths of 90 feet and beyond. Look for vermilion snapper, black sea bass, amberjack, grey triggerfish, white grunts and red porgy. Only a few more weeks remain in the annual Shallow-Water Grouper Spawning Season Closure, which is in effect through April 30. Red snapper are closed indefinitely in the South Atlantic region and must be released.

Freshwater

Look For: Bream, , bass, crappie, catfish.

Comments: The weather finally turned nice at mid-week, and the action on the rivers has been excellent. “There’s been a lot, a lot of fish caught,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. “Crappie, bream, quite a few bass. Everything’s still pulling up shallow to spawn. Most of your nicer fish are being caught in 3-4 feet of water.” Bream action is very good in that 3-4 feet range with fish hitting both crickets and worms. “I’ve been seeing some nice, big bream,” said Stalvey. Bass are in spawning mode and are hitting senkos, trick worms, craw-type baits and diving crank baits.