Flounder size limit in S.C. increasing to 15 inches on Saturday. The Sun News file photo
June 29, 2017 4:22 PM
South Carolina’s flounder limits set to change on Saturday
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
Look For: Flounder, spotted seatrout, black drum, red drum, sheepshead, bluefish.
Comments: Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters in Little River and his clients have had a blast this week with a super early-morning top-water bite of spotted seatrout. Kelly saw a first for him when a trout attacked a Mirrolure at the surface close to daybreak. “I saw a trout jump about five feet out of the water,” he said. “He skied like a king on (the lure).” Casting lures mimicking mullet is the trick to getting the early trout bites. “As long as it looks like a mullet and has a little rattle to it,” Kelly said. “It’s been very consistent.” Trout are also hitting live shrimp on a popping cork for Kelly, who has also been producing 6-8 flounder per trip including 2-3 keepers. Kelly reports over-slot sized red drum in the 27-34 inch range can be found in the vicinity of the jetties at Little River Inlet, hitting live or cut mullet. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown has had good success with black drum this week, plus red drum and flounder. On Tuesday, McDonald produced 15 black drum, a pair of reds in the 20-inch range and a few flounder. On Wednesday, McDonald’s group caught black drum and flounder plus a 3-pound weakfish. McDonald, who noted an 80 degree water temperature in the Winyah Bay vicinity, was using live finger mullet and cut shrimp for bait. Flounder catches have been good this week, with black drum, trout and red drum also available. Tripletail, a summer-time visitor to local estuaries, have made a good showing this week. Anglers should take note, South Carolina’s minimum size limit for flounder will increase to 15 inches on Saturday (July 1). The daily bag limit is decreased to 10 per person per day with a maximum boat limit of 20 flounder per day.
Look For: Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, bluefish, black sea bass, spadefish, weakfish, flounder, whiting, croaker, pompano, black drum, sheepshead and red drum.
Comments: Conditions were relatively calm and the water cleared up along the beach early in the week, and catches off Grand Strand piers responded. The Cherry Grove Pier reported good catches of staple species whiting and croaker, with scattered catches of pompano, black drum, red drum and spots. A few of the red drum were within South Carolina’s 15-23 inch slot limit. Also look for Spanish mackerel, bluefish and flounder off the piers. A cool front was in the offing early in the week, and Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters found himself wearing long-sleeve t-shirts early in the day, a rarity for late June. Maples has found good numbers of flounder on near-shore artificial reefs such as Paradise Reef three miles east of Murrells Inlet, but has found few keepers above the old 14-inch minimum size limit. The daily bag limit is decreased to 10 per person per day with a maximum boat limit of 20 flounder per day. Also look for Spanish mackerel, black sea bass, spadefish and weakfish, plus plenty of sharks, on the reefs. King mackerel action has been hit or miss this week on bottom spots such as Belky Bear, Myrtle Beach Rocks and The Jungle. Cherry Grove Pier reported a water temperature of 80 degrees Wednesday at 6 p.m.
Look For: Dolphin, blackfin tuna, wahoo, sailfish, vermilion snapper, triggerfish, white grunts, red porgy, black sea bass, grouper, amberjack.
Comments: Capt. Danny Carey of Careyon Charters reports excellent bottom fishing and good catches of king mackerel of late. “Bottom fishing is hot,” said Carey, who has produced vermilion snapper, triggerfish, grunts and porgy along with scamp and gag grouper. Carey is hitting bottom spots in 100-120 feet of water and has found kings 20-25 miles offshore in depths of 60-70 feet. Trolling is producing scattered catches of dolphin, blackfin tuna and wahoo, plus sailfish action is excellent in the Gulf Stream. Don’t be surprised to find dolphin or encounter a sailfish while fishing for kings on shallower spots. A few reminders – cobia cannot be harvested in 2017 in South Carolina waters (to three miles offshore) or federal waters (beyond three miles) and must be released. Also, red snapper must be released in the South Atlantic region.
Look For: Bream, catfish, bass, crappie.
Comments: A rainy spell was followed by a dry spell and slightly cooler weather, resulting in superb summertime fishing on the Waccamaw and Little Pee Dee rivers. River levels are good, as the Waccamaw at Conway was at 7.93 feet at 4 p.m. Wednesday and making good tides while the Little Pee Dee at Galivants Ferry was at 4.93 feet at 5 p.m. Wednesday. “Bream are biting on crickets and worms on the Little Pee Dee and Waccamaw the most, from 8 inches to 3 feet (deep),” said Ronald ‘Catfish’ Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. “The big Pee Dee is still a little muddy.” Stalvey described bass action as “phenomenal” on the Little Pee Dee and Waccamaw with crawfish, senkos, buzz baits and Bang-O-Lures working well. Catfish are taking live and cut bait such as black salties and eels.
The crew of Do Work/OIFC shows off the winning 42.75-pound king mackerel last Saturday in the Jolly Mon King Classic at Ocean Isle Fishing Center. From left are Jeff Beck, Camdyn Beck, Jeremy Phillips, Jon Hayes and Ivy Hayes. Submitted photo
June 23, 2017 5:16 PM
One bite does the trick for winning crew in Jolly Mon Classic
By Gregg Holshouser
One quick bite is all it took for Capt. Jeff Beck and his crew aboard Do Work/OIFC to catch the winning king mackerel in the Yellowfin/Yamaha Jolly Mon King Classic last weekend out of Ocean Isle Fishing Center.
It’s a good thing the bite came early, too.
Beck was fishing last Saturday with his 11-year-old daughter, Camdyn, and two former Lenoir-Rhyne College classmates and football teammates, Jeremy Phillips and Jon Hayes, aboard the 27-foot Contender.
Fishing in 65 feet of water at The Jungle, the crew members hooked up with their only fish of the day a little after 10 a.m. The bite came on a ribbonfish 30 feet deep on a downrigger.
“We caught a ribbonfish in the (cast) net catching pogeys that morning,” said Jeff Beck. “We had some (frozen ribbonfish) but I said ‘Let’s go ahead and use that one.’ Something was right about it. It was our first and only bite.”
Hayes was the angler on the fish, which made an initial long run. Hayes worked it to the boat but it made two more runs.
“After a 15-20 minute fight Jon had it beside the boat and I gaffed the fish,” said Beck. “We realized we had a very good king on board.”
After a quick celebration, it was decision time for the crew.
“The question was “Do we want to keep fishing or head that way,’ ” said Beck. “We knew we weren’t going to top that one.”
The decision was made easy a few minutes later when Beck looked at the boat’s instruments.
“We had lost all electronics – GPS, radio and everything,” said Beck. “Seeing that, I took the reciprocal heading where I at least knew I would see land.”
They made their way back to the Shallotte Sea Buoy around 11 a.m., and just motored around the buoy for three hours, killing time before the scales opened at the OIFC at 2 p.m.
The crew’s 42.75-pound king held the lead after 173 boats in the field of 185 fished on Saturday. After the remaining boats fished on Sunday, Do Work/OIFC was declared the winner and took home over $32,000 in winnings.
Beck and crew are regulars in king mackerel tournaments in both Carolinas, and previously won the Jolly Mon in 2010.
Camdyn is an important member of the fishing team, and was named Junior Angler of the tournament.
“I’d be willing to put that 11-year-old against most grown men when it comes to king mackerel fishing,” said Beck. “She’s pretty seasoned when it comes to being on the ocean. She won her first junior angler award as a 5-year-old.”
The second-place king in the tournament was a 35.90-pounder weighed in by Strictly Business of Oak Island, N.C. Man O’ War/AM of Ocean Isle Beach, N.C., was third with a 31.55-pounder, followed by Top Choice of Wilmington, N.C., in fourth with a 31.40-pounder and Open Wide of Cedar Point, N.C., in fifth with a 30.95-pounder.
The tournament was the first event in the inaugural Kingfish Cup series, with boats entered in the cup receiving points for the series. The top four boats in the Jolly Mon are all entered in the Kingfish Cup.
Other events in the Kingfish Cup are the Got ‘Em On Classic (July 7-9), the Fall Brawl King Classic (Oct. 13-15) and the Rumble in the Jungle (Oct. 20-22).
For more information, visit www.OIFC.com.
The Murrells Inlet fishing and boating community was stunned this week by the tragic and untimely death of Wayne Wesley at the age of 52.
Known by his nickname, “Squally,” he was owner-operator of Boat Restore, a throw-back type business in the inlet where he dabbled in a variety of services including engine repair, fiberglass work, bottom painting, and, of course, boat restoration.
Capt. Jason Burton, an inlet native and owner/operator of Murrells Inlet Fishing Charters, was a longtime friend and business associate of Wesley.
“Squally was everybody’s friend, I don’t think he ever met a stranger in his life,” said Burton. “On a daily basis … he was going above and beyond to help somebody or fix something.
“He is a representation of what Murrells Inlet is all about – every man is out to help someone out. He genuinely loved people and wanted to help anybody he could.
He was one of those good guys. The whole thing is pretty tragic.”
Burton recalled one incident that personified Wesley’s helpful nature.
“We had a boat break down at 9 p.m., and everybody else was closed so we called Squally,” Burton said. “He gave us the keys to his shop and every tool we needed to fix the boat. That’s the kind of guy he was, he’d give you the shirt off your back if you needed one.”
Captain Mike McDonald throws a cast net to catch menhaden to use for bait in Winyah Bay, Georgetown. JASON LEE jlee@thesunnews
June 22, 2017 5:22 PM
Rain has brought water temps down, but anglers having little trouble reeling ‘em in
By Gregg HolshouserEstuary
Look For: Black drum, red drum, flounder, spotted seatrout, sheepshead.
Comments: Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown found a rain-cooled water temperature of 78 degrees Thursday in Winyah Bay. “The rain has cooled it down from the 80s,” said McDonald. “We’ve got a lot of fresh water in here right now.” Still, McDonald’s customers caught a few red drum, black drum, spotted seatrout and flounder on a Thursday morning trip. McDonald produced the trout and flounder on artificial grubs and the black and red drum on cut shrimp. On a Monday trip, McDonald produced trout, red drum and black drum. Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters has found trout responsive on a falling tide in the Little River vicinity. “On the falling tide every morning, we’ve caught a nice mess of trout,” said Kelly, who has used live shrimp on a popping cork. Kelly has also produced black drum, red drum and flounder. “The flounder fishing has not been super great (with) a lot of short fish,” said Kelly. “But fishing’s been good, I cannot complain.”
Look For: Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, bluefish, black sea bass, spadefish, weakfish, flounder, whiting, croaker, pompano, black drum, sheepshead, red drum.
Comments: Rainy and stormy weather has kept some boats from heading out into the Atlantic this week, but Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters slipped out between rain showers Thursday morning and saw a pleasant sight at Paradise Reef, located three miles east of Murrells Inlet. “It was calm and like glass when I got out there,” said Maples. “Spanish were jumping all over the place out there.” The size of the fish was nice, as Maples used a jigfish lure to catch three Spanish, the smallest a 22-incher. Also look for spadefish, flounder, black sea bass, weakfish and sharks on the near-shore reefs. Kings can be found around bait from the beach on out, but head to spots in 50-plus feet of water to find good numbers of fish. The Spring King Mackerel Tournament, staged by the Grand Strand Fishing Rodeo, was held last Saturday and Sunday on two piers this year, the Cherry Grove Pier and Myrtle Beach State Park Pier. There were no kings caught by the 43 competing anglers and a drawing was to be held to determine the winners. The piers are producing scattered catches of Spanish mackerel, bluefish, whiting, croaker, pompano, black drum, flounder, sheepshead and red drum. Scott Skrzydlinski of Cherry Grove Pier reported a water temperature reading of 80 degrees surface and 77 degrees bottom at 2:30 p.m. Thursday.
Look For: Dolphin, blackfin tuna, wahoo, sailfish, vermilion snapper, triggerfish, white grunts, red porgy, black sea bass, grouper and amberjack.
Comments: Dolphin catches are becoming more scattered and sailfish releases more common for trolling boats on the offshore waters. Blackfin tuna are around, and if a school is encountered and willing to bite, catches can be good. A few wahoo are also being landed. Bottom fishing is very good for vermilion snapper, triggerfish, white grunts, red porgy, black sea bass, grouper and amberjack. Best catches are in depths of 90-plus feet. Cobia cannot be harvested in 2017 in South Carolina waters (to three miles offshore) or federal waters (beyond three miles) and must be released. Red snapper must be released in the South Atlantic region.
Look For: Bream, catfish, bass, crappie.
Comments: It’s been a rainy week, but the Waccamaw and Little Pee Dee rivers remain in good fishing shape. The Waccamaw at Conway was making good tides and at 7.85 feet at 1:15 p.m. Thursday while the Little Pee Dee at Galivants Ferry was 5.44 feet at 4 p.m. “The rivers haven’t been affected much at all,” said Ronald ‘Catfish’ Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. “Thank God this rain didn’t mess things up. I had one (customer) who limited out in no time (on bream) on the big Pee Dee.” It’s summertime fishing as usual for bream, with fish hitting crickets (or worms) floated in 2-4 feet of water off the banks. Catfish action is good on live bait (black salties, bream) or cut bait (eels, mullet, shad). Stalvey says bass are hitting top-water lures, senkos and frogs.