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Wahoo challenge underway

August 10, 2018 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Wahoo challenge underway

Wahoo, like this one caught early in 2018 by Collins Doughtie & Bryan Baker, are the targeted fish in this weekend’s Georgetown Wahoo Challenge out of Georgetown Landing Marina. Collins Doughtie

Grand Strand Fishing Report: Conway crew’s trips show variety of active species

By By Gregg Holshouser

For The Sun News

August 09, 2018 05:16 PM

Updated August 09, 2018 08:47 PM

Look For: Flounder, red drum, black drum, spotted seatrout, sheepshead, ladyfish, bluefish, tarpon.

Comments: Local estuaries from Winyah Bay to Brunswick County, N.C., are producing scattered catches of a variety of fish. Finger mullet are abundant, and the bait of choice for flounder, red drum and spotted seatrout, but live or fresh cut shrimp are better bait choices for black drum. As Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions points out, blue crab chunks are a good bait option for red and black drum. Connolly’s crew caught 15 red drum in the 12-21 inch range in a two-hour period in Murrells Inlet Tuesday, mainly on live finger mullet or cut mullet. Connolly reported a water temperature of 84-85 degrees. Other species available include sheepshead, bluefish, ladyfish and a variety of sharks. Winyah Bay is home to tarpon in late summer, and the sizable sport fish are roaming the bay and jetties despite a heavy influx of freshwater from recent rains.

Look For: King mackerel, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, spadefish, black sea bass, flounder, weakfish, whiting, croaker, pompano, black drum.

Comments: Spadefish, flounder and black sea bass are the best bets on near-shore artificial reefs such as Jim Caudle Reef, Ron McManus Memorial Reef and Paradise Reef, but anglers should keep in mind that flounder have a 15-inch minimum size limit and black sea bass a 13-inch minimum size limit. Pelagic species roaming around the reefs include Spanish mackerel, king mackerel and cobia, plus sharks of all sizes are on hand. Scattered catches of a variety of species are also coming in off Grand Strand piers. “They’re not killing them but they’re catching some fish,” said Moe Deets of The Pier at Garden City Thursday afternoon. Deets reports whiting, blues and pompano have been caught this week, with some keeper flounder and Spanish mackerel also landed. Look for king mackerel on live bottom areas in 40-60 feet of water.


Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, dolphin, king mackerel, sailfish, barracuda, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grunts, porgy, amberjack, grouper.

Comments: What happens when a “Catfish” leaves the river behind and heads offshore? In this case, the results were spectacular. Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway joined fishing buddies Trey Jordan and Logan Estep aboard Jordan’s 22-foot Sea Pro Saturday and started by trolling in the Georgetown Hole vicinity and produced a king mackerel in the 20-pound range, two blackfin tuna and, to their surprise, a yellowfin tuna. Next, they ran back in to 110 feet of water and hit the bottom with cigar minnows and squid, and brought home four sizable scamp, black sea bass, triggerfish, red porgy, vermilion snapper and white grunts. The Conway crew liked it so much, they went back for more to the same bottom spot on Sunday. This time they landed three more scamp, one gag grouper, plus vermilion snapper, black sea bass, red porgy, triggerfish and white grunts, plus released five red snapper, including a 30-incher. The red snapper releases bode well for this weekend when recreational anglers can harvest one red snapper per person with no size limit on Friday,Saturday and Sunday. The mini-red snapper season concludes with the same limits next weekend (Aug. 17-19). The Sea-Batical out of Murrells Inlet caught five wahoo in 180 feet of water Sunday, which is a good sign for this weekend’s Georgetown Wahoo Challenge. The tournament will be held out of Georgetown Landing Marina with competing boats able to fish one day, Friday or Saturday.


Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.

Comments: The rivers are undoubtedly high, especially the Great Pee Dee and the Waccamaw, but Stalvey says good fish are being caught. “The weather’s beautiful, they need to get out there,” said Stalvey. “The Waccamaw is pretty high but it’s still making a good tide. I think everything is about to get back on track.” What is Stalvey’s current best bet for bream? “I’d tell ‘em to go to the Little Pee Dee and use crickets, worms, beetle spins and popping bugs,” said Stalvey. “People going there are doing that and catching some nice fish.” Bass action continues to be solid despite the high water. “They’re still pulling up some nice bass, fishing in the trees, back creeks and ditch mouths on top-water,” Stalvey said. The Waccamaw near Conway was near crest at 9.63 feet at 2:15 p.m. Thursday while the Little Pee Dee near Galivants Ferry was near crest, at 6.52 feet at 2 p.m. Thursday.

The crew of Margaritaville displays a wahoo caught Sunday out of Georgetown. The Georgetown Wahoo Challenge is underway and runs through Saturday out of Georgetown Landing Marina. Photo Courtesy Georgetown Landing Marina

Rain’s a Pain

August 3, 2018 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Rain’s a Pain

The arrival of August means tarpon (pictured) are roaming local inlets and bays, particularly Winyah Bay and points farther south. Submitted photo
Latest News
Grand Strand Fishing Report: Relentless rain hampering activity

By Gregg Holshouser

August 02, 2018 03:19 PM

Updated August 02, 2018 03:19 PM

Look For: Flounder, red drum, black drum, spotted seatrout, sheepshead, ladyfish, bluefish, tarpon.

Comments: More rain. Oh brother. Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions in Murrells Inlet has had some success catching red drum and flounder this week, but daily rains causing decreased water clarity have hampered catches. “The more it’s raining, the harder it is to catch them,” said Connolly. “It needs to quit. The areas where we usually have clean water, the fish are not used to (murky water).” Connolly has been using finger mullet, both live and cut, fished on Carolina rigs to target reds and flounder. “I’ve been trying to fish with some cut bait to get some smell in the water – that seems to be working better, but it’s not easy,” said Connolly. “They’ll hit it if they can find it.” Murrells Inlet received over 14 inches of rain for the month of July. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service took a late morning trip on Wednesday and his crew caught flounder, red drum and ladyfish in the Winyah Bay area. McDonald also was using finger mullet for bait, live and cut, under floats and on Carolina rigs. August has arrived which means so have tarpon in the estuaries along the South Carolina coast, including Winyah Bay. With huge amounts of freshwater flowing into the bay, McDonald doesn’t see that as a problem for the prized gamefish. “Freshwater doesn’t hurt tarpon,” said McDonald, who noted a water temperature of 82 degrees. “I haven’t seen any this morning (Wednesday), but they were thick for a while.” Georgetown received more than 16 inches of rain for the month of July.

Look For: King mackerel, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, spadefish, black sea bass, flounder, weakfish, whiting, croaker, pompano, black drum.

Comments: It’s been a bad stretch of weather over the last two weeks for local charter fishing operators, or anybody wanting to get out into the ocean for some fishing. “It’s been horrendous, relentless,” Capt. Buddy Smith of Underdog in Murrells Inlet said at midweek. “If it’s not the rain, it’s the storms, if it’s not the storms, it’s the wind.” On Sunday, Smith ventured out to the 10-Mile Reef vicinity. “The water just looked horrible,” said Smith. “We caught some bottom fish but as far as trolling goes it was bad. I saw bait but we just couldn’t get bites. I’ve been telling my customers unless you want to go bottom fishing there’s not a lot going on.” Of course, conditions can quickly improve in a matter of a few days, and when they do, look for king mackerel to be found on live-bottom areas and ledges in 40-80 feet of water. The near-shore artificial reefs such as Jim Caudle Reef, Ron McManus Memorial Reef and Paradise Reef are holding spadefish, black sea bass and flounder, plus weakfish. Spanish mackerel, king mackerel and cobia can also be found in the vicinity of the reefs, along with plenty of sharks. Whiting and croaker are the best bet on Grand Strand piers.


Look For: Dolphin, blackfin tuna, wahoo, blue marlin, sailfish, barracuda, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grunts, porgy, amberjack, grouper.

Comments: Bottom fishing is currently the best bet in the offshore waters, particularly in depths of 80-120 feet. Vermilion snapper, red porgy and grey triggerfish are on hand in good numbers along with black sea bass, white grunts, amberjack and grouper. Scamp are the most common grouper showing up. Red snapper continue to be caught in good numbers but must be released in the South Atlantic region. However, the window of opportunity for recreational anglers is fast approaching. Starting next Friday, recreational anglers will be able to harvest red snapper for six days this month (Aug. 10-12, 17-19) with a limit of one per person per day with no size limit. After Aug. 19, the red snapper fishery will close once again. Trolling is often slow in the Dog Days of August, but king mackerel, dolphin, wahoo, blackfin tuna, barracuda, bonito along with sailfish are all a possibility on live-bottom areas and ledges in depths of 80 feet and deeper. “Before the rainy stretch, we were catching more dolphin in the Parking Lot area than last year,” said Smith.


Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.

Comments: The area has received beaucoup rain over the last few weeks. If you think anglers are staying off the rivers, thanks to almost daily downpours, you would be right. But, even with a rise in the rivers, fish are still being caught. “Not many people are going at all but the few that are going are catching nice fish,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. “It’s been quite surprising. Bream are still biting good, the bass and catfish. Some of those fish will move up into the lakes but fishing’s still good on the main river too.” The Waccamaw River near Conway was at 8.73 feet Wednesday at 10:15 a.m. and was forecast to remain steady at that level through Monday. Minor flood stage on the Waccamaw near Conway is 11.0 feet. The Little Pee Dee at Galivants Ferry was still relatively low Wednesday at 10 a.m., at 3.92 feet, but was expected to rise to 6 feet by Monday.

Red Snapper Season Set

July 28, 2018 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Red Snapper Season Set

Capt. Jay Sconyers, Grant Stadler and Amy Armstrong Stadler show off a red snapper in the 20-pound range caught with Aces Up Fishing during the 2017 red snapper season last November. Submitted photo
Red snapper season set. Here’s the limited time frame when you can fish for them

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

July 27, 2018 05:09 PM

Yes, Capt. Justin Witten is glad to see a season for red snapper in the South Atlantic Region in 2018, but he simply would like to see it open for more days to account for inevitable rough seas.

On Monday NOAA Fisheries announced the red snapper season for recreational anglers will open for six days on back-to-back August weekends, Aug. 10-12 and 17-19.

“I wish they’d have it open more days than six,” Witten, owner/operator of Ambush Sport Fishing out of Murrells Inlet, said. “If the weather’s nice, that’s great but they opened it for nine days last year and there was one questionable weather day and all the others were not fishable.”

In 2017, the red snapper season was held in November, and Witten is hopeful more tranquil seas will be in the offing this year during the Dog Days of August.

For recreational anglers, red snapper can be harvested on the six days in federal waters (beyond three miles offshore) with a daily bag limit of one fish per person per day and no minimum size limit.

For the commercial fishing sector, the season opened on Thursday and will close on Dec. 31, unless the commercial annual catch limit (ACL) is met or projected to be met sooner. The commercial limit per trip is 75 pounds (gutted weight).

Red snapper have been caught and released commonly on offshore bottom spots off the South Carolina coast this year, an ongoing trend in recent years.

“You can find them pretty much anywhere out there on ledges or live bottom in 80-120 feet (of water),” said Witten. “It doesn’t really matter. I usually use a Carolina rig with live bait to target bigger fish, but I’ve caught them on everything including cut bait on a two-hook rig.”

During the red snapper season, marine resource agency personnel from North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida will be conducting surveys at various locations and collecting samples from fishermen. Anglers are encouraged to provide carcasses for data collection.

Fishermen are also urged to help minimize the number of released red snapper and help improve the likelihood that released fish will survive.

If a boat’s limit of red snapper is caught, anglers are urged to move to a different area to avoid unnecessary catch and release of more red snapper.

Anglers are also advised to use single hook rigs – since the bag limit is 1 per person, as this potentially reduces the number of red snapper caught on one drop.

The use of descending devices is encouraged when releasing red snapper suffering from barotrauma.

Recreational anglers are encouraged to report the details of their red snapper fishing trips via, which allows anglers to report their catches using photos to document lengths, as well as depths from which fish are caught.

The MyFishCount app is available via smart phones.