Grand Strand Fishing Report: A crew out of Marlin Quay Marina in 2018 displays a large king mackerel. The migratory king mackerel arrived in local waters this week. Photo courtesy of Marlin Quay Marina
King mackerel have arrived off the Myrtle Beach coast
By Gregg Holshouser
April 18, 2019 06:32 PM
Look For: Flounder, red drum, black drum, spotted seatrout, sheepshead, bluefish.
Comments: “It’s been the attack of the bluefish,” said Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions in Murrells Inlet. “The blues are just crazy. It doesn’t matter where you are, the creeks, the jetties or the reefs.” Spring flounder action is good with most fish under the 15-inch minimum size limit, as expected. “There are good numbers of flounder but just small,” said Connolly. “It’s a little early though, too.” On a Thursday trip, Connolly’s crew caught one 3-pounder out of 11 flounder using mud minnows on a Carolina rig. Connolly has also produced black drum on cut shrimp. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service has had to deal with very high tides and thus muddy conditions this week in the Winyah Bay area. Still, McDonald’s clients caught black drum on cut shrimp Wednesday. Then on Thursday, McDonald and crew found some spotted seatrout action on soft plastic grubs, namely Opening Night by Matrix. McDonald noted a water temperature of 67 degrees.
Look For: Black sea bass, sheepshead, black drum, flounder, weakfish, whiting.
Comments: A few weeks ago, it was Spanish mackerel invading near-shore waters off the Grand Strand from the south to hang out for the season. This week, the kings showed up. “They’re here,” said Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Fishing Charters. King mackerel have been caught in good numbers on typical bottom spots in 50-60 feet of water. “I started at Belky Bear (Thursday) and then went a little deeper (to 60 feet of water),” said Maples. The crew wound up with 12 kings in the 5-10 pound range plus caught Atlantic bonito while slow-trolling cigar minnows. The near-shore artificial reefs, such as Jim Caudle, Paradise and Ron McManus, have been hot spots this week, holding a combination of bluefish, Spanish and large weakfish. The numbers and size of the weakfish have been astonishing. “It’s looking like it’s going to be a heckuva year,” said Maples. The magic springtime water temperature of 65 degrees has been breached, and the fish have also shown up along the beach. Tony McElveen of Cherry Grove Pier reported a water temperature of 66 degrees Thursday afternoon and noted good catches this week of bluefish, Spanish, whiting and black drum. “They’ve been tearing it up since Tuesday,” said McElveen.
Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, dolphin, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grunts, porgy, amberjack.
Comments: Jeff Martini and crew aboard Dirty Martini had a super day offshore on Wednesday while fishing in the S.C. Wahoo Series, landing five wahoo, a 26-pound blackfin tuna and two king mackerel. With the big push of dolphin expected anytime, now is the time to get in some offshore trolling. “It’s red hot right now,” said Little River Capt. Danny Juel of Fish Screamer Charters and the Atlantic Star party boat. Juel reported a great catch aboard the Atlantic Star last Saturday, with plenty of vermilion snapper, triggerfish, black sea bass, white grunts, almaco jacks and a few red porgy. Juel said four red snapper were released along with about 15 grouper. Of course the annual shallow-water grouper spawning season closure ends on April 30, with recreational anglers once again able to harvest grouper starting on May 1.
Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.
Comments: The rivers remain high, but springtime fishing is good on local rivers, particularly the Intracoastal Waterway and Waccamaw. “It’s high as a Georgia pine,” Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle said of the river levels. “They need to drop and stay dropped. The Pee Dees have been flooded for seven months.” April is prime time for bream fishing on the rivers, and considering the current caterpillar hatch, it’s on. Find the caterpillars and find the fish, Stalvey says. “They’ve been catching some nice bream,” said Stalvey. “I’d recommend using crickets (on floats) in 2-4 feet. Find what they’re feeding on and they’re pretty much stacked up.” Stalvey says catfish action is very good. “They’ve been amazing on eels and bream – eels have been the best,” Stalvey said. The winner of the Bassmaster Elite event at Winyah Bay last weekend fished the lower Waccamaw, and Stalvey takes pride in that. “The (bass) are here,” said Stalvey, who recommends using buzz baits, Senko worms or Texas-style rigged worms.
Who is leading a field of 74 competitors in the Bassmaster Elite at Winyah Bay
By Gregg Holshouser
April 12, 2019 03:45 PM, Updated April 12, 2019 03:53 PM
Conway banker John Proctor has qualified for the World Championship of bass fishing, The Bassmaster Classic. Proctor is heading to Tulsa, OK to compete against 54 of the biggest names in the fishing world on March 3-6 at Grand Lake O’ the Cherokee By McClatchy
The Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Elite at Winyah Bay began Thursday morning with the field of 74 boats zooming in a variety of directions after takeoff from the launch at the Carroll Campbell Marine Complex in Georgetown.
Winyah Bay, considered the third-largest watershed on the East Coast, offers rivers such as the Waccamaw, Pee Dee and Black as options for the Elite Series bass anglers to find the heaviest limit of five lunker largemouth possible. About 10 miles south of the bay, the Santee Rivers are another option.
Numerous anglers even prefer to take the long ride down the Intracoastal Waterway to Charleston Harbor and then as far as 40 miles up the Cooper River, revered for its population of big bass, to fish.
Sometimes, though, it pays off to stay close to the launch site, and the extra fishing time that affords.
That is the route Jason Williamson took on Thursday, opting to fish the Waccamaw and Pee Dee rivers, a relatively short run from the launch site on the Sampit River, according to his Marshal, Chris Jones of Conway.
Williamson, of Wagener in Aiken County, is a Bassmaster veteran who has Elite Series wins at Lake Amistad in Texas in 2009 and Clarks Hill Reservoir on the border of South Carolina and Georgia in 2010.
Bass in local waters are in spawning mode, with some in pre-spawn, some post-spawn and some currently spawning.
Williamson wound up with a five-fish limit weighing 15 pounds, 11 ounces to take the early, slim lead over Hunter Shryock of Newcomerstown, Ohio in second place with a five-fish bag of 15-8.
“I feel like the two bigger fish (Williamson) caught were getting ready to spawn,” Jones said. “He wasn’t sight fishing, just blind casting. He’s got three more days to go, but he’s off to a good start.”
Williamson’s lunker, a 6-10 fish, was the largest weighed in during Thursday’s opening day of fishing.
Williamson and Shryock were the only two anglers to top the 15-pound mark Thursday.
Jones enjoyed the experience of riding with the early leader, and was happy with where Williamson caught his fish.
“I think that’s a great thing,” said Jones. “Our rivers would have won the last time (the Elite Series was) here (if not for) one or two lost fish.”
The weigh-in for the second day of the tournament was underway Friday afternoon. The tournament continues through Sunday with the field trimmed to the top 35 anglers for Saturday and the top 10 on Sunday.
The tournament can be followed live at www.bassmaster.com.
With the Winyah Bay Heritage Festival joining the festivities Saturday and Sunday, Georgetown will be, well, one festive place over the weekend.
“It’s great for the economy and great to showcase our area,” said Jones, the vice president of the Conway Bassmasters. “There’s no downside to it at all.”
Grand Strand Fishing Report: Spring flounder, Spanish mackerel arriving in local waters
By Gregg Holshouser
April 12, 2019 12:37 AM
Look For: Flounder, red drum, black drum, spotted seatrout, bluefish, sheepshead.
Comments: Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters in Little River has worked the Intracoastal Waterway and the tidal creeks to catch red drum on fresh cut shrimp and live mud minnows this week, but a few days the wind has been a real challenge. “On windy days we’ve been hunkering down on docks fishing the pilings for reds and black drum using cut mullet, crab or fresh (cut) shrimp,” said Kelly. “There are still loads of small trout with a few keepers.” Kelly has used Vudu or Berkley Gulp shrimp to catch the trout. Flounder have shown up a bit in the Little River vicinity, but Kelly points to one estuary in particular to catch the flatfish. “We’ve caught a couple flounder here and there but we’re always late to catch them (in Little River Inlet). You could probably go into Cherry Grove (Inlet) right now and unload on them.” Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions has targeted flounder in Murrells Inlet, with success. Connolly has floated mud minnows to catch decent numbers of flounder and a few trout in the creeks of the inlet. On Thursday, Connolly produced two keeper trout in the 17-inch range, one keeper flounder (15 inches minimum size) and “a good handful” of bluefish in the 18-19 inch range. “The trout bite is starting to slow down – the fish are starting to spread out,” said Connolly.
Look For: Spanish mackerel, bluefish, weakfish
Comments: There had been a few flashes of Spanish mackerel showing up in local waters over the last few weeks, but early this week they arrived up in full force. On Tuesday, several guides out of Murrells Inlet set up shop on Paradise Reef and had a ball catching nice-size Spanish. “We were all catching them,” said Connolly, of O-Fish-Al Expeditions. “It didn’t matter what you were doing, trolling a tree rig on a No. 1 planer or throwing a jigfish, they were all working.” Connolly’s fish measured from 14-20 inches. “They were decent, all keepers,” said Connolly, who used Big Nic Fishing’s Spanish Candy jig. Plenty of sizable bluefish are hanging out with the Spanish mackerel. Connolly also set up over the structure of the reef and vertical jigged to produce nice weakfish, some to three pounds. Kelly of Capt. Smiley Fishing Charters also has had good success with big weakfish and bluefish on near-shore reefs off Little River Inlet. “The weakfish are real nice and lots of them,” said Kelly. “You can get a lot of action out there.” Action is also heating up in the surf zone and from Grand Strand piers. Pier anglers can look for Spanish, bluefish, whiting, croaker, plus the much-anticipated pompano have made the scene.
Look For: Dolphin, wahoo, blackfin tuna, king mackerel, bonito, black sea bass, grey triggerfish, vermilion snapper, red porgy, white grunts, amberjack.
Comments: Capt. Danny Carey of Carey-On Charters headed offshore Sunday to compete in the South Carolina Wahoo Series, and wound up fishing in the vicinity of the Georgetown Hole. “We didn’t have much luck with the wahoo,” said Carey. But what Carey and crew did find bodes well for the upcoming weeks in April and May. The crew worked a broken weed line and found dolphin ready to bite. “We caught a lot of fish and threw a lot of small peanuts back,” said Carey. “We wound up keeping a dozen.” Trolling action has also been good for blackfin tuna and wahoo, so offshore Carolina Slams are available along the break and the Gulf Stream. Gusty winds this week have kept boats in port for the most part, but fishing should be prime when conditions calm back down. “Once we get back out there again, we’ll do alright,” said Carey. Bottom fishing is excellent for black sea bass, grey triggerfish, vermilion snapper, red porgy, white grunts and amberjack. Closures of reef species currently in effect for recreational anglers in South Atlantic waters include the annual shallow-water grouper spawning season closure, plus deep water blueline tilefish and snowy grouper until May 1. Red snapper are also off limits indefinitely and must be released.
Look For: Bream, bass, catfish.
Comments: The focus this week has been in Georgetown for the Bassmaster Elite Tournament out of the Carroll Campbell Marine Complex, but there is plenty of other good action available. Warm weather has arrived over the past week, causing a rapid rise in water temperature and the bream have moved closer to the banks. Fishing crickets under floats in 2-5 feet of water will produce fish. Plenty of nice catfish are available with a variety of baits including cut shad, cut mullet, live bream and nightcrawlers all working well. Bass continue to be in bedding mode with spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, Senkos or craw-type baits all working.