Grand Strand Fishing Report: Despite first cold snap of 2019, bites have been solid
By Gregg Holshouser
January 18, 2019 02:46 PM,
Look For: Spotted seatrout, red drum, black drum, flounder, sheepshead.
Comments: Despite last weekend’s cold weather, the first significant cold snap of the fall and winter, fish have remained active in local estuaries. Capt. Englis Glover of Reelin Up The Coast was joined by Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions and Capt. Jason Burton of Murrells Inlet Fishing Charters on Wednesday to film a segment of the show. The trio stuck with the Murrells Inlet jetties and had success with a variety of species. “We caught a ton of fish, trout, reds, sheepshead, black drum,” said Connolly. The crew floated live shrimp to catch their fish, although live shrimp are scarce at local bait shops. Earlier in the week, Connolly fished the creeks of the inlet and found there remain good numbers of trout under the 14-inch minimum size limit. “We caught 60 trout with two keepers on Z-Man (artificials),” said Connolly. Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Charters went out in the middle of the cold snap last Saturday and had a solid day. “It was semi slow compared to last week,” said Kelly, who produced a “nice red” and six trout on the trip. Kelly has his eye on the coldest weather of the winter, due to arrive Sunday night. “I think until then the fishing should be pretty good (with midday low tides),” said Kelly. “(The midday low tide) gives the flats time to warm up a little bit, and you can fish that incoming tide.” Kelly will initially fish for red drum on low water, then trout as the tide rises.
Look For: Black sea bass, sheepshead, black drum, flounder, weakfish, whiting, croaker.
Comments: Capt. Perrin Wood of Southern Saltwater Charters headed out to the near-shore artificial reefs on Wednesday in search of sheepshead and black drum, which are expected to arrive on such spots at any time. Wood found plenty of black sea bass, most under the 13-inch minimum size limit and a slot red drum instead. Look for sheepshead and black drum to show up on the reefs after the pending cold front, if not before. Norma Madaras of Apache Pier reports pretty good action on the pier for mid-January, with anglers catching whiting, croaker, trout and black drum, including some keeper trout and black drum. Madaras reported an ocean water temperature of 53 degrees. “We’ve got people fishing out there every day,” said Madaras. “They’re mostly catching whiting.”
Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, king mackerel, dolphin, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grunts, porgy, amberjack, grouper.
Comments: The Dirty Martini crew out of Little River headed offshore Wednesday and good success on a commercial outing for snowy grouper, plus added a wahoo in the 80-pound class to their catch. Trolling is producing wahoo and blackfin tuna. Bottom spots are producing vermilion snapper, black sea bass, grey triggerfish, amberjack, red porgy and grunts. There are plenty of fish in the snapper-grouper complex that are currently closed for recreational anglers. The annual shallow-water grouper spawning season closure is in effect through the month of April and includes gag grouper, black grouper, red grouper, scamp, red hind, rock hind, yellowmouth grouper, yellowfin grouper, graysby, and coney. In addition, Greater amberjack is closed until March 1, and deep-water blueline tilefish and snowy grouper are closed until May 1. Red snapper are off-limits indefinitely in the South Atlantic Region and must be released.
Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.
Comments: Area rivers are receding and in much better shape this week, with only the Great Pee Dee River at Pee Dee still in Minor Flood Stage. The Waccamaw at Conway was at 10.22 feet at 3:15 p.m. Thursday and falling. The Little Pee Dee was at Galivants Ferry was at 8.75 feet, just below Minor Flood Stage, at 3 p.m. Thursday and falling. Although few anglers are on the water, the lower Waccamaw and Pee Dee in the Ricefields vicinity are good spots to target bream, bass, crappie and catfish.
As winter rears its ugly head, here’s a way to become a better fisherman away from water
By Gregg Holshouser
January 18, 2019 03:03 PM,
With the first major cold front of the winter on the way, it’s perfect timing to kick off fishing seminar season.
Rayburn Poston, founder and operator of the Student Angler League Tournament Trail (SALTT), has got a real doozy of a seminar set up for Feb. 2.
The event is practically three seminars in one, with one setting each for Inshore Fishing, Nearshore/Offshore Fishing and Bass Fishing.
Attendees will have some tough decisions to make with three excellent seminars going head-to-head all morning beginning at 8 a.m. at St. James Intermediate School.
Numerous local captains and experts are donating their time and fishing expertise to the event to benefit Poston’s SALTT, which features divisions for red drum and largemouth bass with middle and high school anglers competing against each other.
From bass fishing on local rivers to targeting wahoo, tuna and dolphin in the bluewater offshore, virtually all types of fishing available to Grand Strand residents will be covered.
The seminars are perfect for newcomers to the area who are eager to dip into the local fishing scene or seasoned veterans looking to glean a few tips from the pros.
“We hope this will help anglers who seem to specialize in a (certain) zone,” said Poston. “This gives someone who is new to the area a chance to take home a cooler full of knowledge. The very best way to learn is hands on by booking a trip with these boat captains who are volunteering their time.”
Aside from the seminars, the event will feature a silent auction and raffle packages.
“The silent auction (includes) fishing charters from Reel Salty Charters, Marlin Quay Marina, Chilly Water Fishing, Yak Kayak Fishing & Outdoor Guides and O-Fish-Al Expeditions,” said Poston. “(Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters) has a voucher for one youth to enjoy his Palmetto Kids Camp in the summer. The raffle packages will be mainly rod and reel combos and fishing tackle bundles.”
The event will be held Feb. 2 from 8 a.m. to noon at St. James Intermediate School, located at 9641 Scipio Lane, Myrtle Beach.
The seminar is designed for adults and students in the sixth grade and up, with students admitted free of charge.
A Kid’s Camp is being held in conjunction with the seminar for youngsters in grades 1 through 5.
For more information, contact Poston at 843-902-4274.
S.C. Wahoo Series
The Captains Meeting for this state-wide tournament will be held Jan. 26 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Skull Creek Dockside, located at 2 Hudson Road on Hilton Head Island.
The tournament runs from Feb. 8 through April 27 with three weigh-in locations — Hilton Head Harbour Marina, Toler’s Cove Marina in Mt. Pleasant and Georgetown Landing Marina.
For more information, visit www.scwahooseries.com.
SALTT Seminar Schedule
8 a.m.: Little River Slam, Capt. Patrick Kelly and Capt. Chris Ossman, Captain Smiley Fishing Charters
8:30 a.m.: Motherships and Kayaks, Mike Eady and Johnny Wigfall, Yak Outdoor Guides
9 a.m.: Matching Bait for Target Species, Capt. Jerry Condenzio, Capt. Crumb’s Outpost
10 a.m.: Winter Fishing Trout and Drum, Capt. Dan Connolly, O-Fish-Al Expeditions
10:30 a.m.: Flounder Inshore/Nearshore, Capt. J Baisch, Fishfull Thinking
11 a.m.: Seasonal Fishing Patterns, Murrells Inlet Fishing Center staff
Near Shore/Off Shore
8 a.m.: Murrells Inlet Offshore Reefs, Capt. Alex Hrycak, Marlin Quay Marina
8:30 a.m.: Little River Offshore Reefs, Capt. Bevan Hunter, Chilly Water Fishing
9 a.m.: Trolling for Kings, Capt. Jeff Maples, Reel Salty Fishing
10 a.m.: Offshore Trolling, Capt. Dan Carey, Careyon Charters
10:30 a.m.: Murrells Inlet Offshore Reefs, Capt. Ned Campbell, Murrells Inlet Outpost
8 a.m.: Fly Fishing, Michael Matthews, Orvis
8:30 a.m.: Adapting to Conditions, Bobby Marks, Bass Pro Shops
9 a.m.: Finesse Jig Fishing, Caleb Hartley, Carolina Hook and Line
10 a.m.: Line Choices, Phantom Outdoors
10:30 a.m.: Topwater River Fishing, Rickey Woods, Coastal Carolina Bass Team
‘That’s massive’: How this North Carolina crew won inaugural Capt. Roger Wahoo Challenge
By Gregg Holshouser
January 11, 2019 08:12 PM,
The inaugural Capt. Roger Wahoo Challenge based out of Ocean Isle Fishing Center in Ocean Isle Beach, N.C., is in the books, and what a testament it was for the quality of wahoo fishing available during fall and winter off the Carolina coast.
Eligible fishing days were Nov. 23 through Dec. 31, 2018, with teams able to fish up to two days and weigh in four wahoo during that stretch.
The crew of Hammer Down out of Carolina Beach, N.C., led by Preston Davis, needed only one day to land their impressive aggregate of four wahoo weighing 288.45 pounds. Hammer Down weighed wahoo tipping the scales at 92.85, 74.45, 69.85 and 51.3 pounds to claim first place in the event.
“That’s massive,” said Capt. Brant McMullan, director of the event.
McMullan said Hammer Down fished an area north of The Steeples, about 85 miles due east of Ocean Isle Beach, trolling ballyhoo. The crew caught the four monster wahoo by 11 a.m. on Dec. 26 and earned $10,875 for the victory.
Brad Wood and crew aboard Ratz Azz finished second with a four-wahoo aggregate of 248.4 pounds, with the fish ranging from 55.9 to 66.25 pounds. Ratz Azz earned $6,525.
Jeff Martini and crew aboard Dirty Martini out of Little River was third with a four-wahoo aggregate of 234.45 pounds, earning $4,350.
Quote Boat was just behind Dirty Martini in fourth place by less than a pound with a 233.50-pound aggregate.
Perhaps most impressive of all was that 10 entries out of the field of 58 boats weighed in aggregates of 200 pounds or more, an average of more than 50 pounds per fish.
The largest wahoo was a 97-pounder weighed in by Doug Illing and the crew of Salty Fin.
McMullan is not surprised at the number of large wahoo and eye-popping weights accumulated in the tournament.
“One of the cool things is this tournament brings to light the incredible fishery we have,” said McMullan. “It’s really a growing fishery. We’re either getting more wahoo or people are getting more effective fishing for them. I think it’s a combination of both.”
Wahoo tournaments have become very popular along the Southeast coast with events such as the NE Florida Wahoo Shootout out of Jacksonville, Fla., the South Carolina Wahoo Series and Martini’s Hook-A-Hoo Rodeo out of Little River becoming established.
The Bahamas are also renowned for its wahoo fishery and has several tournaments targeting the species
“You look at the wahoo tournaments in The Bahamas, that’s thought to be the hotbed,” said McMullan, “but it’s evident on the Southeast coast there is a population of world-class wahoo – they just live here. It’s all the same fish. They just fluctuate up and down the coast.”
McMullan, who says high-quality wahoo fishing is available off the Carolina coast from August through April, hopes his tournament will join the annual list of wahoo tournaments in the Southeast.
“We had 58 boats and I’m hoping now that we’ve got a year behind us, it will have a chance to grow,” said McMullan.
Capt. Roger Legacy Fund
The tournament was established in honor of Capt. Roger Gales, who passed away Oct. 18 at the age of 48.
Gales was McMullan’s brother-in-law and was a fixture at the OIFC. His loved wahoo fishing, thus the tournament was established in his honor and to help his surviving family financially.
The tournament raised $16,950 to be donated to the Capt. Roger Legacy Fund, benefitting his family.
“There’s a very specific purpose for this event,” said McMullan. “Their house payments are being directly drafted from this account.”
For more information on the tournament visit www.OIFC.com/wahoochallenge.com.