Call Us Monday - Saturday 9 am to 5 pm EST

843.353.2258

Category Archives: Live Great Outdoors Blog

Blue Marlin Biting

May 19, 2018 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Blue Marlin Biting


Blue marlin are among the species biting offshore recently. The Sun News file photo
Outdoors
What fishermen are finding as offshore trolling action remains torrid

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

May 18, 2018 04:47 PM

Estuary

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

Comments: A little over a decade ago, the South Carolina legislature enacted the first-ever limits on black drum in Palmetto State waters. The original slot limit of 14-27 inches and daily bag limit of five fish per person are still in place, and it shows. “It seems like the last 3-4 years the black drum fishing has been incredible,” said Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters in Little River. While the flounder fishing and red drum fishing have tapered off a bit this week for Kelly, the black drum bite has continued to be very good, with fish hitting fresh cut shrimp or blue crab quarters. Plenty of bluefish also have been available, wanted or not. “It seems like there’s a bunch of blues around anywhere you’re fishing for flounder or reds,” said Kelly, who noted a water temperature in the low 70s in Little River Inlet close to the ocean, but in the upper 70s back into the Intracoastal Waterway. Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions has caught red drum and flounder in Murrells Inlet. “I’ve caught the reds on fresh cut mullet at low tide,” said Connolly. “”(The flounder), there’s a lot of small fish still,” said Connolly. South Carolina’s flounder limits include a 15-inch minimum size limit and daily bag limits of 10 per person and 20 per boat.

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

Comments: Blues and Spanish mackerel continue to be the hot species in the near-shore waters and they can be found in the vicinity of near-shore artificial reefs, near inlet passes, along the beach and from Grand Strand Fishing Piers. Connolly got into some of the Spanish mackerel action early this week near Paradise Reef, located three miles east of Murrells Inlet. Connolly trolled mackerel trees on a No. 1 planer and caught 10 Spanish in one hour. “It was a pretty good bite for a while,” Connolly said. Slow-trolling live menhaden, mullet or blues can also produce Spanish near the reefs, and possibly a shot at king mackerel or cobia. Be on the lookout for inquisitive cobia while fishing the artificial reefs. Another popular species to target in May on the reefs is spadefish, which prefer cannonball jellyfish. Also look for weakfish, black sea bass, bluefish and flounder on the reefs. The Spanish and bluefish action has been good on the piers, also. “They’ve been doing really well with them,” said Wick Fisher of the Cherry Grove Pier. Also look for whiting, croaker, pompano, black drum and flounder off the piers. The surface water temperature at Apache Pier was 72 degrees Thursday at midday.
Offshore

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

Comments: It’s mid-May, and the offshore waters are producing some awesome catches on trolling trips. Capt. Buddy Smith and crew aboard Underdog out of Murrells Inlet produced 20 dolphin up to 18 pounds, two blackfin tuna and released a blue marlin in the 225-250 pound range last Saturday. Smith says the tuna were caught near the break and the dolphin offshore of the break. “If you have a weed line or flying fish you might find (dolphin) on the break, and there’s been some wahoo on the break,” said Smith. “The blue marlin bite is 50 fathoms and on out.” Trolling on the break can also produce king mackerel, barracuda and bonito. Don’t forget about the bottom fishing, either. Ledges and hard bottom areas in depths of 100 feet and deeper are producing black sea bass, vermilion snapper, gray triggerfish, red porgy, white grunts, amberjack and grouper, especially scamp. Red snapper are also inhabiting the reefs, but must be released indefinitely in the South Atlantic Region.

Freshwater

Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.

Comments: “We really are in the summertime mode,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. Summertime mode means the bream are hitting crickets and worms in 2-4 feet of water on all the local rivers, including the Little Pee Dee, Great Pee Dee, Waccamaw and the ICW. Stalvey also notes crappie are taking the crickets and worms as well. Summertime mode also means bass are hitting top-water lures such as buzz baits and Bang-O-Lures plus wacky-rigged Senkos early and late in the day. Stalvey called catfish action “amazing,” with fish taking live bream, cut eel and frozen shad. Stalvey noted the Little Pee Dee remains low, with rain needed. “This storm has the weather people scratching their heads,” said Stalvey. “The Little Pee Dee is about to dry up if we don’t get some water soon.”

Carolina Meatfish Slam is on

May 12, 2018 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Carolina Meatfish Slam is on


John Welch of Myrtle Beach shows off a wahoo he caught near the Winyah Scarp while fishing aboard Painkiller out of Murrells Inlet on May 2. Dr. Jason Rosenberg Submitted photo
Outdoors
The Carolina Meatfish Slam is back in play with the improving weather, lessening wind

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

May 11, 2018 06:22 PM

Updated 6 hours 15 minutes ago

After an April to forget weather-wise, May arrived with some much-anticipated warmer weather and, most importantly, light winds.

So on the first Wednesday of the month, May 2, Dr. Jason Rosenberg and a crew of friends aboard Painkiller, with Capt. Jay Sconyers at the helm, headed for the blue water, with visions of a Carolina Meatfish Slam dancing in their heads.

Also along for the latest version of Wednesday Fishing With Friends were Jimmy Kaminski and Travis Coleman of Pawleys Island, John Welch of Myrtle Beach and myself.

The typical late start after a working morning ensued, and Sconyers cleared the jetties in the 32-foot Contender around 11 a.m.
Today’s top news by email

The local news you need to start your day

Thanks to slick seas, Sconyers, who had been going stir crazy due to lack of fishing in April, opened up the twin 300-horsepower Yamahas to about 50 mph and headed south-southeast.

Fifty smooth miles and a little over an hour later, Sconyers pulled the engines back when fish – hopefully blackfin tuna – were spotted thrashing a bait ball near the surface.

Rosenberg and Sconyers cast Jig Fish lures and aggressively retrieved them with no luck, at first.

After about 15 minutes, Rosenberg finally got a taker. The typical dogged tuna fight ensued, but alas, this tuna was a bonito instead of a blackfin.

Sconyers quickly ran the remaining 15 minutes to our target area for trolling, the Winyah Scarp, about 55 miles from the Murrells Inlet sea buoy. The water looked great, a clear deep blue with scattered sargassum.

The crew deployed a mix of ballyhoo/skirt combos, two downriggers with lures and a cedar plug on a long, center flat line, seven lines in all.

But before all the lines were out, Sconyers yelled “Fish On” as the rod with the plug bowed up.

Welch became the first angler of the day and about 10 minutes later, Sconyers gaffed a wahoo in the 15-pound range.

A great start, then the crew got the trolling spread set up and waited. Sconyers spotted a sargassum weed line and trolled alonside it, normally a hot spot for dolphin waiting to happen, but there was no activity on it.

After over an hour, a line finally snapped out of the outrigger and it was fish on again, but this wound up being a barracuda – not a member of the Meatfish Slam family of wahoo, dolphin and tuna.

Three more barracuda hit the deck and were released in the next few hours, and with our window of catching dinner fast closing, Rosenberg made the call to abandon trolling and switch over to bottom fishing.

Sconyers made a move inshore to bottom spots in 130 feet of water and anchored some and drifted some. Over the next few hours we caught a nice combination of vermilion snapper, black sea bass, grey triggerfish, red porgy and white grunts.

Now, there was some dinner in the box.

Sconyers dropped a few live baits down, hoping to get a bite from a grouper, particularly scamp, but there were no takers.

As Sconyers likes to say, 6-8 “endangered American red snapper” were also caught, but released due to a long-running NOAA Fisheries ban on harvesting the species.

Several sharks were also landed and released, including an approximate seven-foot, 150-pounder that come close to whipping my butt.

The seas remained nice for over half the ride home but the southerly sea breeze kicked in to make a little choppy for the last 20 miles to the sea buoy.

In retrospect, we were a little early for the hot dolphin bite we were hoping to find in the Winyah Scarp area, which wound up turning on in the next few days and continues now.

Slow trolling action aside, it was a beautiful day on the water with plenty of fish caught, and a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Governor’s Cup Series

The 2018 Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series got underway on Thursday with the Bohicket Marina Invitational Billfish Tournament.

The 43 boats competing in the series opener is up from the 29 that competed in the Bohicket tournament a year ago.

“It’s a significant increase and that trend looks to be continuing for Georgetown,” said Amy Dukes, coordinator of the series for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

Dukes was referring to the Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament, which is the next stop in the series and scheduled for May 23-26 at Georgetown Landing Marina.

At Bohicket, boats are able to fish any two of three days from Thursday through Saturday. Only three boats fished Thursday and Friday, meaning 40 boats will be on the water searching for billfish on Saturday.

Grander had a big day on Friday, releasing two blue marlin to take the lead after two days of fishing with 1,200 points. Grander still has a day left to fish on Saturday.

Full Pull is in second place with 700 points after releasing a two sailfish and a white marlin on Thursday. Full Pull is also eligible to fish on Saturday.

Artemis, Mister Pete, Sportin Life and Syked Out all have 600 points.

Through two days of fishing, the field has released six blue marlin, three sailfish and one white marlin. Releasing a blue marlin is worth 600 points, a white marlin 300 points and a sailfish 200 points.

CCA Tournament

Coastal Conservation Association South Carolina is staging its second annual Star Tournament, which runs from May 26 through Sept. 4.

A number of red drum have been tagged and released for the tournament, and the first two CCA members registered for the tournament to catch a STAR-tagged redfish could win a 2018 Sea Hunt powered by a 150-horsepower Yamaha valued at over $40,000.

For more details visit ccasouthcarolina.com/star/.

King Mackerel action is hot

May 11, 2018 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on King Mackerel action is hot


Fishing Report: King mackerel action is hot; 36-pounder landed off Cherry Grove Pier

May 10, 2018 06:44 PM

Estuary

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

Comments: “Fishing’s been excellent,” said Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters in Little River. Flounder action is very good with fish hitting mud minnows, other live bait or artificials. “We’ve been catching flounder in Little River and Tubbs Inlet, mainly small fish but 3-5 keepers a trip,” said Kelly, who presents the mud minnows on 1/4-ounce jig heads. Kelly also has had good success with red drum and black drum, with plenty of bluefish around. Kelly says black drum are hitting blue crab chunks around docks and oyster beds. The same species are active in Murrells Inlet, with keeper flounder above South Carolina’s 15-inch minimum size limit on the increase.

Inshore

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

Comments: The king mackerel bite remains on fire on bottom spots in the 10-15 mile range in depths of about 40-50 feet. Murrells Inlet’s Painkiller crew, including Dr. Jason Rosenberg and Capt. Jay Sconyers, slow-trolled cigar minnows and plugs just offshore of Belky Bear on Wednesday. “It was on fire,” said Rosenberg. “We had our three-man limit (three per person) in about 30 minutes.” From there, Sconyers zoomed out to the Parking Lot to finish off the quick trip with a nice bottom catch of black sea bass, vermilion snapper, triggerfish and grunts. Near-shore artificial reefs such as Jim Caudle and Paradise continue to produce good catches of Spanish mackerel and weakfish, with black sea bass and flounder also available. Spadefish should be holding on the reefs, too, and be on the lookout for cobia. “I haven’t seen any (spadefish) yet, but the trout (weakfish) bite was so hot, I was concentrating on that (this week),” said Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters. The water is clear on the beach, the water temperature is near 70 degrees and the kings have shown up on the beach. Steve Gann reports four king mackerel were caught on the Cherry Grove Pier, two on Tuesday and two on Wednesday. Charlie Love of Pittsboro, N.C., a pier regular, landed the largest, a 36-pound smoker. “The blues and Spanish have been going nuts,” Gann added. Apache Pier reports John White of Myrtle Beach caught a 23.5-pound king this week, plus a 9-pound, 3-ounce bluefish. On April 28, a pair of kings were landed off the Apache Pier, including 22.45-pounder by Homer Carder which was the first of the year off the pier.

Offshore

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

Comments: A pair of offshore tournaments are happening this weekend. The Far Out Shoot Out, based out of Ocean Isle Fishing Center, continues through May 19, with boats able to fish any one day in the tournament. Call 910-575-3474 for more information. The Captain’s Invitational Fishing Tournament out of Marlin Quay Marina is set for Saturday, with Captains Meeting at 6 p.m. Friday at the marina. Call 843-651-4444 for more information. The largest dolphin weighed in wins the Marlin Quay tournament, and the timing is impeccable. Dave Christian of the marina reports dolphin are being found along the western edge of the Gulf Stream offshore of the break from areas such as the Winyah Scarp and Georgetown Hole. Christian says six boats headed out from the marina on Saturday with all catching around 20 dolphin. Plenty of blackfin tuna are in the mix plus a few wahoo. Blue marlin, sailfish and white marlin are also available in conjunction with the opening of the S.C. Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series Thursday with the Bohicket Marina Invitational Billfish Tournament. Bottom fishing is simply excellent for black sea bass, vermilion snapper, gray triggerfish, red porgy, white grunts, amberjack and grouper, especially scamp. Red snapper are also inhabiting the reefs, but must be released indefinitely in the South Atlantic Region.

Freshwater

Look For: Bream, catfish, bass, crappie.

Comments: Bucksport is on fire, is the word from Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway, along with many other areas on local rivers. Bream fishing in particular is off the charts, with fish hitting crickets and worms in 3-4 feet of water. Catfish action is also excellent, with Stalvey’s reporting a 30-pound blue catfish caught this week. Fresh cut eel and live bream are prime catfish baits. Senkos and top-water lures are producing bass. The Waccamaw at Conway was at 8.14 feet at 8:15 a.m. Thursday, making good tides and receding. The Little Pee Dee at Galivants Ferry was at 6.67 feet at 8 a.m. Thursday, with a slow fall in store.