Casting a line? A lot of good bets this weekend in area waterways
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
Look For: Flounder, spotted seatrout, black drum, red drum, bluefish.
Comments: Flounder catches continue to improve in areas such as Cherry Grove, Murrells Inlet and Pawleys, as the water temperature warms into the mid 70s, even the upper 70s on lower tide stages during the day. Spotted seatrout, red drum and black drum are also available but catches are scattered. Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Charters in Little River has observed catches have been best on the last few hours of the falling tide and the start of the rise. Kelly says trout are hitting Vudu shrimp and mud minnows fished on popping corks, with red drum and flounder hitting mud minnows and shrimp fished on the bottom on jig heads. Look for black drum taking shrimp around docks. Kelly has observed water temperatures in the 74 to 75-degree range. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown had a solid trip on Thursday, catching a variety of species in the Winyah Bay vicinity. McDonald’s crew caught four flounder, six trout, two lady fish and whiting. McDonald notes red drum are very scattered. “We catch one here, ride 10 miles and catch another,” McDonald said.
Look For: King mackerel, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, whiting, croaker, black drum, pompano, spadefish, flounder, cobia.
Comments: After a windy weekend, calmer conditions and pretty water prevailed along the beach this week. Predictably, so did the Spanish mackerel and bluefish. Anglers have had success jigging both species off Grand Strand piers Monday through Thursday, using mackerel trees and gold-hook rigs. Shrimp fished on the bottom is producing mainly whiting and croaker, along with some black drum including a few keepers within the 14-26 inch slot limit. A few sizable pompano have also been caught on shrimp, from the piers and the surf. Steve Gann of the Cherry Grove Pier reported a water temperature of 74 degrees Thursday afternoon. Spanish can be found around bait from near the beach to 10 miles offshore, especially around hard-bottom areas and artificial reefs. With the water temperature in the mid-70s, also look for spadefish on the near-shore reefs up to the 10-12 mile range. Head to bottom spots in depths of 55 feet and beyond to find good numbers of king mackerel. All cobia must be released in 2017 in all waters off South Carolina.
Look For: Dolphin, wahoo, tuna, billfish, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, porgy, triggerfish, grunts, grouper, amberjack.
Comments: It is absolutely prime time for offshore trolling, especially for good numbers of dolphin plus blackfin tuna and wahoo. The South Carolina Governo’s Cup Billfishing Series is underway at Bohicket Marina and the 50th annual Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament is two weeks away, so billfish are also in the trolling mix. Bottom fishing is very good on spots in depths of 90 feet and beyond, with vermilion snapper the dominant species. A good mix of black sea bass, triggerfish, porgy, grunts and a few grouper are also available, with plenty of sharks to avoid. Red snapper are off-limits and must be released in the Southeast Region.
Look For: Bream, catfish, bass, bream.
Comments: Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway reports bream fishing is excellent on the Waccamaw and the Intracoastal Waterway, with fish hitting crickets and worms in 2-4 feet of water. The Waccamaw from Conway to the Ricefields is producing good catches of fish. Stalvey says catfish catches are good on eels, shiners and frozen shad and herring. “There haven’t been any giants, but good ones,” said Stalvey. Bass are in a little deeper water. “The topwater bite had kind of shut off,” said Stalvey, who has used swim baits and crawfish lures to catch fish this week. A few anglers continue to catch crappie on minnows and jigs. As for the Pee Dee rivers, Stalvey says they are “high as a Georgia pine.”
Capt. Danny Juel and Capt. T.J. Nixon of Fish Screamer Charters in Little River show off the 115-pound wahoo they caught on April 29. Submitted photo
May 05, 2017 2:45 PM
After long fight, local fishing crew hauls in catch of a lifetime
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
Capt. Danny Juel of Fish Screamer Charters was fishing a bottom spot 45 miles southeast of Little River in 90 feet of water last Saturday for the typical reef species such as grouper, vermilion snapper, black sea bass and triggerfish.
As usual, Juel and his mate for the day, fellow Capt. T.J. Nixon, also deployed what Juel called a “light line” for any marauding pelagic species attracted to the action around the boat.
“We had that light line out for whatever would eat it,” said Juel.
When something did eat the dead sardine used for bait on the light line a little before 10 a.m., Juel immediately knew this wasn’t your ordinary pelagic.
“He took about every drop of line I had (on the reel), 150 yards or more,” said Juel. “I told T.J. that has to be a wahoo, that’s the only fish that will run like that.”
A member of Juel’s crew for the day took the rod and the battle was on, with the fish on an Avet reel loaded with 40-pound line on a Shakespeare rod, a standard set-up for king mackerel.
Although Juel had a good idea what he was hooked up with, it was over an hour before he knew for sure.
“We fought the fish for an hour and five minutes when he rolled up behind the boat,” recalled Juel. “We said ‘Whoa man, that’s a heckuva wahoo.’ We got lucky and got him.”
Juel gaffed the fish but quickly realized he needed help from Nixon getting it over the gunwale. That afternoon at Juel’s home marina – Hurricane Fleet Marina in Calabash, N.C. – the wahoo weighed 115 pounds even on certified scales.
“I’m sure he lost some weight, we put him in the boat at 11 a.m.,” said Juel.
One thing is for sure, it was the wahoo of a lifetime, even for a veteran fisherman like Juel.
“I’ve been fishing 40 years in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and a lot in the Bahamas when I lived in Florida,” said Juel. “I’ve caught a lot of wahoo, several in the 80-pound range, but never one like that.”
The fish measured 73 inches long with a 34-inch girth.
The North Carolina state record for wahoo is a 150-pounder caught by Kevin Elwell out of Ocracoke in 1994. The South Carolina state record for wahoo is a 130-pound, 5-ounce fish landed by R.J. Moore out of Murrells Inlet in 1998.
Far Out Shoot Out
The Far Out Shoot Out, staged by Ocean Isle Fishing Center, opens Saturday, with competing boats able to fish one of 15 days through May 20.
But a gale warning was in effect Friday morning, and Monday looks like the next fishable day for boats to get offshore to catch the event’s target species, wahoo, dolphin and tuna.
The event was originally scheduled for an eight-day run but was extended to 15 days by tournament director Capt. Brant McMullan on Thursday.
For more information, call 910-575-3474 or visit www.OIFC.com/FOSO.
S.C. Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series
The 2017 South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series kicks off next week with the Bohicket Marina Invitational Billfish Tournament.
Fishing days in the tournament are Thursday through Saturday, May 11-13. Bohicket Marina is located at 1880 Andell Bluff Blvd. in John’s Island, south of Charleston.
Next up in the series is a historic event – the 50th Annual Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament out of Georgetown Landing Marina May 24-27. For more information, call 843-546-1776.
The 9th Annual Meatfish Slam, also out of Georgetown Landing Marina, was originally scheduled for April 27-29 but was postponed.
As of Thursday afternoon, a make-up date had not been set.
Southern Redfish Cup
The series makes a stop at Harbourgate Marina in North Myrtle Beach, with fishing set for Saturday. Weigh-in opens at 3:30 p.m. at the marina.
The series returns to the area on Sept. 9 with a stop in Georgetown.
Captain Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service hooks into a shark in North Inlet. JASON LEE jlee@thesunnews
May 04, 2017 7:03 PM
Fishing report: May’s arrival marks prime time for offshore trolling action
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
Look For: Flounder, spotted seatrout, red drum, black drum, bluefish.
Comments: In the middle of a Thursday trip, Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters in Little River had already produced six flounder and six trout, including a pair breeders in the 4-to-6-pound range that were released. “The tide turned (to rising) and w’’ve been catching them pretty good,” said Kelly, who used shrimp on popping corks and Vudu shrimp to catch the trout and mud minnows for the flounder. Kelly also notes red drum are holding on structure such as docks on the Intracoastal Waterway in the Little River area, plus black drum are hitting fresh shrimp on the Tilghman’s Point area. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service noted a water temperature in the mid 70s on a recent trip in the Winyah Bay vicinity. “Those water temperatures shouldn’t be there until the third week of May,” said McDonald, who produced trout, bluefish and whiting on the trip.
Look For: King mackerel, Spanish mackerel, cobia, spadefish, black sea bass, whiting, bluefish, flounder, pompano, croaker.
Comments: Windy weather has produced murky water along the beach, which has hampered catches from Grand Strand piers this week. “The mud line is halfway out the pier,” said Michael Wallace of Cherry Grove Pier, who noted a water temperature of 71 degrees Thursday morning. “The water’s been stained all week,” said Carsten Fischer of Apache Pier. “They’ve been catching whiting, and every once in a while a blue, Spanish or flounder.” By boat, find clear water and bait, and you’ll find Spanish mackerel and the occasional king from just off the beach to about four miles offshore. On the near-shore reefs, look for black sea bass (13-inch minimum size limit), spadefish, weakfish and flounder. Spanish and king mackerel are roaming around the reefs, and be ready for a cobia to show up around the boat. All cobia must be released in South Carolina waters in 2017. Kings are on hand on bottom spots, particularly from 12 to 20 miles offshore.
Look For: Dolphin, wahoo, blackfin tuna, grouper, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, amberjack, triggerfish, porgy, grunts.
Comments: Relatively tranquil winds and sea conditions are required for boats to get offshore to the ledges of the Continental Shelf, and May is a prime month to catch three major pelagic species — dolphin, wahoo and blackfin tuna – plus billfish. The wind and seas haven’t cooperated much this week, but catches have been very good when boats have made it to areas such as the Blackjack Hole, Winyah Scarp and Georgetown Hole. Of course, excellent bottom fishing is available too, and May means the end of the four-month grouper spawning season closure. Wednesday provided a good weather day, and Jeff Martini’s crew out of Little River landed seven dolphin while trolling. They then went deep-dropping and caught several snowy grouper including a 40-pounder. The crew of the Painkiller out of Murrells Inlet made a quick Wednesday afternoon run out to the ledges and landed a couple of dolphin before switching to bottom-fishing. The crew landed a scamp, a tilefish and a few amberjack to go with vermilion snapper and triggerfish on the short trip.
Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.
Comments: “I’ve just seen pretty mess of bream after pretty mess of bream,” said Ronald ‘Catfish’ Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. “It’s quite phenomenal. They’re just smoking them on crickets in 2-to-4 feet of water.” Stalvey has personally had good success catching bass on the Waccamaw and Intracoastal Waterway between Conway and Bucksport using trick worms and spinnerbaits. Stalvey also reports good catfish action with fish hitting bream and eels. The water levels of both Pee Dee rivers is high, but the Waccamaw is just a little high and very fishable. “The Waccamaw is good, it’s higher than normal, but I’ve been seeing prettier fish than when it was lower,” said Stalvey.