Charlie Nash of Garden City Beach shows off a 21-inch red drum caught in the murky waters of Murrells Inlet earlier this week. Gregg Holshouser For The Sun News
Here’s a firsthand look of fishing along the Grand Strand after Hurricane Florence
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun news
September 28, 2018 06:16 PM
Updated September 28, 2018 06:49 PM
It was near dead low tide at mid-afternoon early this week as Garden City Beach resident Charlie Nash pulled his jon boat into the main creek of Murrells Inlet.
About 10 days earlier, Hurricane Florence had departed the Carolinas, leaving behind an incredible deluge of rain followed by miserable and devastating flooding along rivers from Wilmington, N.C., to Georgetown.
Murrells Inlet is strictly a saltwater estuary, with no freshwater influx, yet the water in the inlet has taken on the look of a blackwater river thanks to the floodwaters that have inundated the near-shore Atlantic. With each rise of the tide, the inlet has been filled with murky, dark water instead of the normal greenish, relatively clear water.
With such unusual conditions, Nash and I were curious to get out in the inlet to check out fishing activity, especially considering late September is typically an excellent time for fall fishing along the Carolina coast.
Nash pulled up along a Spartina grass-lined bank on the northern side of the inlet and gave me the go-ahead to drop the anchor. A bait bucket loaded with live shrimp powered by a battery-operated aerator sat in the middle of the boat within reach of Nash at the stern, and I at the bow.
Bait, namely finger mullet, was plentiful despite the water conditions.
We dropped the live shrimp back on adjustable float rigs, but action was slow until the tide began to rise, with only a few bluefish bites and a small flounder.
Nash moved up the bank adjacent to a tidal creek, where we noticed bait being crashed about 30 feet out from the grass.
I tossed a shrimp in the vicinity, the float disappeared, and I quickly knew I was hooked up with a good fish. Five minutes later, a sizable slot red drum just over 21 inches was in the net after a spirited battle.
We continued to work the area and caught several more reds, in the 13-16 inch range.
But with the tide continuing to rise and the current running swiftly along the bank, Nash had one species in mind – spotted seatrout.
We fished hard and tried several more spots, but never were able to get a trout bite over the next couple hours.
It’s certainly been an interesting week for fishing since the storm’s passage. With the unprecedented floodwaters and highly unusual water conditions along the beach, anglers were not sure what to expect.
But they quickly found out that bait was plentiful and the mackerel were at home. King mackerel catches have been superb off the Apache and Cherry Grove piers, with a total of 18 kings caught from the Apache Pier from Sunday through Thursday.
In addition, Spanish mackerel have shown up nicely around bait along the beach, inlet passes and for pier anglers.
The debris-filled floodwater along the beach even harbored tripletail, which are rarely caught in the near-shore Atlantic off the Grand Strand. Tripletail are well-known to congregate around floating structure, and have been caught in multiple numbers around tree debris.
In addition, bull red drum have shown up right on cue for their fall run on hard-bottom areas along the beach and from the surf, despite the water conditions.
Ashley Turner Memorial King Tournament
The Apache Pier is staging a king mackerel tournament in honor of assistant manager Ashley Turner, who passed away unexpectedly on Aug. 14.
The Ashley Turner Memorial King Tournament will be held on the pier on Oct. 27, with a $25 entry fee. A donation of $5 of the entry fee will go to a favorite charity of Turner’s, Teen Angels of North Myrtle Beach.
“She was a great person,” said Calvin Dickerson, Apache Pier manager. “She was a great asset to our pier and to our community. Just a great lady, always willing to help and always smiling.”
For more information on Teen Angels, visit www.NMBTeenAngels.com, plus donations can be made on the Apache Pier’s Facebook page.
Megan Maples of Reel Salty Charters in Murrells Inlet shows the run of the bull red drum has arrived for autumn in the near-shore waters of the Carolinas. Photo courtesy Reel Salty Charters
Grand Strand Fishing Report: Ocean catch good despite flooding and debris from rivers
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
September 27, 2018 05:39 PM
Updated September 27, 2018 09:22 PM
Look For: Red drum, spotted seatrout, flounder, black drum, sheepshead, ladyfish, bluefish.
Comments: Thanks to flooding runoff from area rivers, the Atlantic Ocean looks more like the Waccamaw or Little Pee Dee River these days. With the nasty, debris-filled flood waters well-entrenched along the beach, area estuaries have also been infiltrated by the dark, tannic water as the tide rises and falls. Such a scenario wouldn’t seem to bode well for fishing, but the calendar reads late September, and bait is plentiful, and fish available. “I would have thought different, but fishing’s excellent,” Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters in Little River said after a Wednesday trip. “We caught an inshore slam (red drum, spotted seatrout, flounder) within the first 30 minutes.” Kelly produced the reds on fresh, cut finger mullet to get scent in the murky water, a few trout in the 3-4 pound range hit a top-water lure simulating mullet, and the flounder took Gulp shrimp. Kelly then moved to the Little River jetties where bull reds were on hand, along with plenty of bluefish, hitting cut mullet. “We probably caught over 50 fish,” said Kelly, who noted a water temperature of 79 degrees. Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions reports red drum are the best bet this week in the stained water of Murrells Inlet. Bull red drum are showing up at area jetties and channels near ocean passes on their annual autumn spawning mission. These fish should be caught quickly with beefed up tackle and carefully released after being revived. The South Carolina slot limit for red drum is 15-23 inches.
Look For: King mackerel, Spanish mackerel, red drum, bluefish, spadefish, black sea bass, flounder, weakfish, whiting, croaker, pompano, black drum.
Comments: The brown floodwater continues to spew from the Cape Fear River among other rivers north of the Myrtle Beach area, and likely will continue for a few more weeks, slowly subsiding. Such water conditions would not seem conducive to finding king mackerel, but anglers on the Apache Pier and Cherry Grove Pier had a real treat this week. From Sunday through Tuesday, 11 king mackerel were caught off the Apache Pier with the fish ranging in size from 14 to 29.8 pounds. On Wednesday, the Cherry Grove Pier produced three kings including fish weighing 19, 20 and 20 pounds. “We’ve caught a little bit of everything, blues, whiting, croaker, pompano, Spanish, flounder, weakfish and a few spots,” said Skyler Parks of the Apache Pier. “It slowed a little bit Wednesday, but it’s been really good since the hurricane.” The debris, mainly tree debris, in the ocean water has provided a neat fishery to target this week – tripletail, which are well-known to congregate around floating structure. “The tree debris, they’ve been hanging on the bigger pieces,” said Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters in Murrells Inlet. Maples has also found the fall staples of bull reds and weakfish on hard-bottom areas near the beach. Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions has found nice Spanish mackerel available near jetties and along the beach. Connolly has found the fish feeding on the abundant bait (mullet, menhaden, glass minnows) and deployed live finger mullet on light wire and a treble hook. Trolling spoons and mackerel trees will also work, but live bait will usually produce larger Spanish. Take A Kid Fishing Day in the Myrtle Beach area will be held Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon. Contact local fishing piers to participate in the event.
Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, dolphin, king mackerel, sailfish, barracuda, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grunts, porgy, amberjack, grouper.
Comments: Jeff Martini, owner of Mid-Town Bistro in North Myrtle Beach, and his gallivanting crew aboard Dirty Martini headed offshore for a spear-fishing trip on Wednesday, and had success targeting grouper. They found what Martini described as “very dirty” water while working an area in depths of 130 feet and 45 miles out of Little River. Before Hurricane Florence struck, fall wahoo fishing was ramping up. A few boats have been out since the storm and have caught wahoo, but the jury is out on what’s available for trolling boats. “A lot of people are going this weekend, we’re waiting to see,” said Dave Christian of Marlin Quay Marina. Aside from grouper, bottom-fishing trips are producing vermilion snapper, black sea bass, grey triggerfish, amberjack, cobia, red porgy and white grunts. Red snapper must be released indefinitely in the South Atlantic Region.
Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.
Comments: With all-time record flooding occurring on the Waccamaw and other area rivers, anglers and unnecessary boaters should stay off the water until the flood waters recede. Any boaters that must be on the rivers or the Intracoastal Waterway should beware of floating debris and above all else navigate at idle speed, especially around residences and structures that are undergoing flooding. Wakes can easily cause further, unnecessary damage to the properties.
Gregg Holshouser, the president of Custom Outdoor Furniture & Restrapping, is a 1984 graduate of the University of South Carolina’s School of Journalism and has been a sports and outdoors writer since 1985, working for newspapers such as The Statesville (N.C.) Record & Landmark, the Northwest Florida Daily News, and The Sun News.
He joined the family business permanently in 1999, and continued his writing career as a freelance sports writer. Gregg, and his sister “Sam” enjoy Living Great Outdoors, and invite you to visit Custom Outdoor Furniture to see how they can make your outdoors great.
Along with being co-owner of Custom Outdoor Furniture, for the past 15 years he has written a weekly fishing report and Outdoors Column for The Sun News, the Myrtle Beach area’s daily newspaper. Check out the current fishing report, posted on the Custom Outdoor Furniture and Restrapping website every weekend, of find us on Facebook.