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Wahoo, other game fish active

October 26, 2018 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Wahoo, other game fish active


Ron Lovelace shows off a 21.65-pound king mackerel he caught Tuesday off Myrtle Beach’s Apache Pier. Submitted photo
Outdoors
Grand Strand Fishing Report: Wahoo, other game fish active. But will seas cooperate?

By Gregg Holshouser

For The Sun News

October 25, 2018 06:42 PM

Updated October 25, 2018 06:45 PM
Estuary

Look For: Red drum, spotted seatrout, flounder, black drum, sheepshead.

Comments: An extreme cold weather event in late December and early January this past winter quickly dropped water temperatures to dangerous levels and threatened local estuary species, especially spotted seatrout. There were confirmed fish kills in many areas along the Carolina coast. In response, South Carolina advised anglers to release any trout caught through the end of September while North Carolina closed the trout fishery through June 15. Now that the cooler weather of autumn has ushered in the traditional trout fishing season, the question has been how healthy would the trout stock be? From Little River to Murrells Inlet, the trout action has been strong this week. “They’re here, thank goodness,” said Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters in Little River. “I’ve caught a ton of 13 1/2-inch fish with a few keepers.” Maples has caught the trout on artificial Vudu shrimp presented under a float. Live shrimp are a good option but pinfish and other bait stealers can be bothersome until the water temperature cools further. Top-water lures are working well for trout, especially at dawn. Action has also been very good for red drum, flounder and black drum.
Inshore

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

Comments: King mackerel action continues to be strong from the beach to 20 miles offshore as the kings are feasting on migrating baitfish such as mullet, menhaden and herring. Capt. Kyle Fisher of Warrior Charters landed five king mackerel, plus his customers lost several hook ups on a Tuesday five-hour trip to Buoy City, with two of the kings weighing just under 30 pounds. Fisher slow-trolled dead cigar minnows to catch the fish. A little closer in, also on Tuesday, Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters kept five kings up to 20 pounds while fishing Belky Bear using live pogeys (menhaden). “The water’s looking great, there’s about three feet of visibility,” Maples joked. “Normally you can see 10-plus feet down (at Belky Bear), but it’s better than that coffee we had after (Hurricane) Florence.” The king action continues to be good at the beach, too, as Apache Pier produced two kings (21.55 and 22 pounds) on Tuesday and Cherry Grove Pier produced two kings (26 and 22 pounds) on Wednesday. The run of the bull red drum continues with anglers catching the big spawners from Grand Strand piers and live-bottom areas within a mile or so of the beach. These fish should be caught quickly, handled delicately and released carefully. Weakfish, black sea bass, flounder and whiting are also available on the same live-bottom areas. The piers are also producing scattered catches of Spanish mackerel, bluefish, whiting, croaker, black drum, red drum, flounder, and a few spots. Wick Fisher of Cherry Grove Pier reports the ocean water temperature was 70 degrees at the surface and 69 at the bottom Thursday afternoon.
Offshore

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

Comments: Capt. Brant McMullan of Ocean Isle Fishing Center says the offshore trolling scene in late October is simple – wahoo are available, but reasonably calm seas are needed to get to them. And reasonable seas have been few and far between of late. “Wahoo, they’re there,” said McMullan. “I guarantee you they’re there.” Unfortunately, a Gale Warning is on tap for Friday with winds gusting to 40 knots, and the next several days look rough too. Blackfin tuna are also available for trolling boats when conditions permit. Typically fall bottom fishing is excellent for grouper, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, grey triggerfish, amberjack, red porgy and white grunts. Red snapper must be released indefinitely in the South Atlantic Region.
Freshwater

Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.

Comments: Area rivers remain a mess well after the historic flooding spawned by Hurricane Florence. “I haven’t heard anything from the rivers,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. Concerns of a confirmed fish kill on the Waccamaw River remain, with the extent of the kill unclear for the foreseeable future. The Waccamaw River at Conway was at 9.65 feet at 4:15 p.m. Thursday and was forecast to fall below 9 feet in the next few days for the first time since before the storm. The Little Pee Dee River remains high at 8.18 feet at Galivants Ferry as of 4 p.m. Thursday.

Preview of the next King Mackerel Tournament

October 19, 2018 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Preview of the next King Mackerel Tournament


Bryan Baxter and Matt DeAntonio show off the winning 44.20-pound king mackerel in the James Island Yacht Club King Mackerel Tournament earlier this summer. Courtesy photo
Outdoors
Grand Strand Fishing Report: How it looks for the next king mackerel tournament

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
October 18, 2018 06:53 PM

Updated October 18, 2018 06:53 PM
Estuary

Look For: Red drum, spotted seatrout, flounder, black drum, sheepshead, ladyfish, bluefish.

Comments: On the heels of the first real cold front of autumn, action is good for the four main species targeted in local estuaries – red drum, black drum, flounder and spotted seatrout. The bull red drum bite is on at local jetties, and Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Inshore Charters caught “seven big ones” in about an hour on Wednesday. Kelly has also caught all four species in the creeks of Dunn Sound and Bonaparte Creek, using Berkeley Gulp lures, small finger mullet or cut mullet or menhaden. On Thursday, Kelly noted a big drop in water temperature to 72 degrees. With another cold front in store over the weekend, Kelly is ready for some trout action. “I think it’s gonna get good,” said Kelly. “When the water temperature gets into the 60s, the trout are on.” Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service produced a solid catch of red drum and black drum on a Wednesday trip, with the largest red measuring 28 inches. McDonald used live shrimp, which he netted in Winyah Bay, for bait. “There are some live shrimp still in the bay,” said McDonald. “The water’s black, it looks like the Waccamaw River, the same way it looks in the ocean. The tides are working normal, just a little higher than normal, and on every tide the water is black.”
Inshore

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

Comments: There have been good signs this week for near-shore king mackerel fishing, which bodes well for the 15th annual Rumble in the Jungle king mackerel tournament this weekend out of Captain Archie’s and North Myrtle Beach/Little River. The strong bite of kings along the beach has continued. Case in point, the Apache Pier, where four kings up to 39.4 pounds were caught within about an hour late Thursday afternoon. The action has been hot on Cherry Grove Pier too, where 15 kings were caught Sunday through Tuesday including a 41-pounder on Sunday. The tournament kicks off Friday with registration at Captain Archie’s beginning at 3 p.m., dinner at 6 p.m. and the Captains Meeting at 7 p.m. Competing boats can fish Saturday or Sunday, Captain’s Choice. Aside from the hot king action, plenty of other species have been caught from the piers this week including red drum, black drum, bluefish, whiting, croaker, pompano, flounder, trout and, yes, a few spots. Although seas are looking dicey over the weekend, the near-shore bottom spots are producing weakfish and bull red drum, along with black sea bass, whiting and flounder. Cherry Grove Pier reports the good news that the ocean water temperature has dropped thanks to the cold front, from 80 degrees on Tuesday to 78 surface and 77 bottom Thursday afternoon.

Offshore

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

Comments: Trey Jordan of Conway headed out Sunday for a bottom-fishing excursion aboard his 22-foot Sea Pro, with Ronald Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle, Trey Jordan, Logan Estep, August Mize and Chelsea Davis along for the trip. The crew had a superb catch of gag grouper, amberjack, vermilion snapper, black sea bass and triggerfish. Stalvey took live pinfish for bait, which produced the four keeper grouper. The crew fished 38-41 miles offshore in 100 to 110 feet of water. With cold fronts in the offing, offshore trips have been few and far between. “I’m hoping after this front moves through when the weather settles down, we’ll get back out there and catch some wahoo,” said Capt. Danny Carey of Careyon Charters. “When (the water temperature) gets down into the upper 70s out there it ought to really turn on for the wahoo.”

Freshwater

Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.

Comments: Stalvey offered a glimmer of good news on the freshwater fishing front, as the historic and devastating flooding event from Hurricane Florence winds down. Many local rivers have had fish kills related to the flooding, but one river is getting closer to normal. “The Little Pee Dee is looking good and smelling good,” said Stalvey. “The Waccamaw still smells like a septic tank with all those dead fish. The (Great) Pee Dee is a little rough too. The Waccamaw is going to take a while before it clears out and cleans out. I’m hoping for the best but there were a pile, I mean a pile of fish that died.”

What happens after Michael?

October 12, 2018 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on What happens after Michael?

Fall red drum action is in effect in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. Gregg Holshouser For The Sun News
Outdoors
Grand Strand Fishing Report: What’s expected after Tropical Storm Michael passes

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

October 11, 2018 09:06 PM

Estuary

Look For: Red drum, spotted seatrout, flounder, black drum, sheepshead, ladyfish, bluefish.

Comments: It’s been another round of windy days with choppy water in local estuaries thanks to the approach and passing of Tropical Storm Michael. Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Inshore Charters had success on back-to-back trips on Monday and Tuesday before the wind really kicked in at midweek. “We’ve been catching Carolina Slams about every trip,” said Kelly. On Monday, Kelly produced red drum, spotted seatrout and flounder on live or cut finger mullet. Trout have also hit top-water plugs. On Tuesday, Kelly and his crew faced 25-30 mph winds but still caught reds, trout and flounder. “The guys wanted to fish,” said Kelly. On Thursday, the Atlantic Ocean was churned up by 25-40 mph southerly winds, with higher gusts, and coastal flooding occurred in the estuaries. Kelly thinks fishing will bounce back quick despite another blow from a tropical system. “I was blown away about how good the fishing was after Florence, so I expect it to be good (after Michael),” said Kelly. “There are a lot of fish in our estuary, and it’s a really good time of year to be fishing.” Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters was checking on his boat Thursday in Murrells Inlet, and noted bait is plentiful. “There’s tons of bait of running down the creek, big schools of mullet,” said Maples.”The water in the inlet doesn’t look bad.” On a Tuesday trip, Maples produced red drum in the 13 to 23 inch range and small flounder on live finger mullet. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown had good success with reds, trout, flounder and black drum Saturday on live and cut mullet, plus cut shrimp for the black drum, in the Winyah Bay vicinity.

Inshore

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

Comments: The wind kicked up on Monday in the Atlantic and hasn’t let up since. “Once that wind started Monday it was bad out there,” said Maples. Last weekend, king mackerel, including some real smokers, were caught trailing schools of mullet and menhaden along the beach. The winning fish in the U.S. Open King Mackerel Tournament out of Southport, N.C., last weekend, a 37.20-pounder, was caught Saturday on a bait pod just off Garden City Beach. “Until Monday, fishing was fabulous,” said Skyler Parks of the Apache Pier. Before Monday, the pier was producing catches of Spanish and king mackerel, whiting, bluefish, croaker, pompano, black drum, red drum and a few spots. Considering it is mid-October, expect catches to pick up nicely again, one the seas calm down and the water clears up.

Offshore

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

Comments: The crew of Dirty Martini headed offshore on Oct. 4 to the Black Jack Hole and hit the jackpot in 250 feet of water, with a one-degree temperature break, from 82-83 degrees. The crew brought home nine sizable wahoo and one dolphin. “The first one skied 20 feet out of the water,” said boat owner Jeff Martini. “It was epic. We had 3-4 sky on the bait. It was perfect, bait everywhere and the water was crystal-clear blue.” And then came stiff winds and rough seas thanks to Michael to keep boats in port most of this week. Look for excellent wahoo action once the seas settle down post-Michael. Fall bottom fishing is typically excellent for grouper, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, grey triggerfish, amberjack, red porgy and white grunts. Red snapper must be released indefinitely in the South Atlantic Region.
Freshwater

Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.

Comments: The Waccamaw River at Conway is finally about to get down to minor flood stage, a full four weeks after Hurricane Florence made landfall on Sept. 14. The Waccamaw at Conway was at 12.15 feet at 3:15 p.m. Thursday, just above minor flood stage and trending down. Boating and fishing is still not advised on the Waccamaw.