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April heats up the fishing

April 6, 2018 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on April heats up the fishing


Fishing improving off Grand Strand coast as water temperatures increase

By Gregg Holshouser

For the Sun News

April 05, 2018 05:33 PM

Estuary

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

Comments: April has arrived, and fishing, as usual this time of year, is on an upswing. “We’re not breaking records but fishing is improving,” said Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters. “The air temperature and water temperature has improved.” Kelly has focused on the Intracoastal Waterway’s main channels in the Little River area this week and has had success with red drum and black drum, using mud minnows on popping corks along with mud minnows, cut shrimp and Gulp shrimp fished on a 1/4-ounce jig heads on the bottom. On Thursday, Kelly’s crew caught red drum, black drum and one flounder under South Carolina’s minimum size limit of 15 inches. Flounder catches are poised to take off at any time, with decent catches of the flatfish already reported in areas such as Cherry Grove Inlet and Murrells Inlet.
Inshore

Look For: Black sea bass, weakfish, bluefish, flounder, whiting, croaker.

Comments: Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters headed out on a charter earlier this week in search of the elusive 13-inch keeper black sea bass, at least on near-shore bottom spots. Maples started out at Paradise Reef, three miles east of Murrells Inlet, and then hit the 10-Mile Reef, also east of the inlet. He found black sea bass, but no keepers (along with a few weakfish at Paradise Reef). Eventually, Maples wound up going out to depths of 70 feet to find keeper black sea bass and caught plenty in the 13-14 inch range plus a large 2.5-pounder. Maples also noted his customers caught numerous bluefish at the 10-Mile Reef, a sign of good things to come. “We caught a ton of bluefish, so I would say within a week we should be seeing Spanish (mackerel),” said Maples. “They come up with those blues – it’s got to be time.” Michael Wallace of Cherry Grove Pier reported a water temperature of 59 degrees Thursday morning, a day after it had topped out at the 60-degree mark but dropped back into the 50s overnight. Wallace reports small whiting and croaker continue to be the main catch in the surf.
Offshore

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

Comments: The seas finally calmed enough Sunday and Monday for numerous boats to get offshore to see what trolling action held in store. Most boats were targeting wahoo and competing in the S.C. Wahoo Series, and the monsters of the mackerel family were receptive. Capt. Buddy Smith was among the crew of Jeff Drake’s The Law, which used its first of two fishing days allowed in the series on Sunday. Smith reported the crew went two of three on wahoo bites and came in early to weigh in a 71.6-pounder. The crew fished the south side of the Winyah Scarp and also caught one blackfin tuna and one king mackerel. “The water temperature was 69.5 degrees, a little on the cool side,” said Smith. “There was a little bit of mid-level bait, (but) no flying fish.” A few dolphin have been caught but the real push from the south is likely a few weeks away. Bottom fishing is very good for vermilion snapper, black sea bass, amberjack, grey triggerfish, white grunts and red porgy, especially in depths of 90 feet and beyond. The annual Shallow-Water Grouper Spawning Season Closure is in effect through April 30. Also, red snapper are closed indefinitely in the South Atlantic region and must be released.
Freshwater

Look For: Bream, , bass, crappie, catfish.

Comments: The water temperature has made a nice jump over the last week, up to the lower-to-mid 60s, and the fish are responding. Bream action is on a definite upswing. “A lot of bream on crickets and worms, 3-4 feet deep,” said Ronald ‘Catfish’ Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. “Some are still lead-lining (with worms on the bottom), but the fish are pulling up (to shallower water).” April is the season for bedding bass in coastal South Carolina, but it’s not quite prime time. “It’s iffy – we’ve got some fish on the beds, some are roaming around searching,” said Stalvey, who recommends throwing Texas-rigged style baits or topwater for bass. Catfish catches are excellent with bream and shad currently serving as prime baits.

Warmer weather improves catch

March 31, 2018 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Warmer weather improves catch


Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters hit the 10-Mile Reef east of Murrells Inlet on Thursday and found plentiful black sea bass, many in the 12-inch range, and several keepers above the 13-inch minimum size limit (seven fish per person per day). The Sun News file photo
Outdoors
With warmer weather, here’s what’s biting in the Grand Strand fishing scene

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

March 30, 2018 03:30 PM

Updated March 30, 2018 03:31 PM
Estuary

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

Comments: The weather finally turned nice at midweek, and the water temperature is finally poised to make a push toward the anticipated 60-degree mark. Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions targeted black drum on a Wednesday trip in Murrells Inlet and had success fishing fresh cut shrimp, from the fish market, on the bottom. Connolly, who noted a 58-degree water temperature Wednesday, is looking forward to the flounder bite kicking off soon. “I’m sure there are some male flounder in the creek that stayed over the winter,” said Connolly. “Once the water temperature gets up into the 60s, and the bait shows up good, those big females will move in and we’ll start catching those 17-20 inchers. About 16-17 inches is the max for the males.” Connolly has been fighting plenty of snot grass in the inlet, and will be glad to see it gone. “The snot grass is starting to float out,” he said. “We’ll have to deal with it a couple more weeks, then it will be back to normal.” Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters in Little River also has had success with black drum this week, and expects the flounder bite to start in Cherry Grove any time, perhaps as soon as Easter weekend.

Inshore

Look For: Sheepshead, black sea bass, black drum, weakfish, flounder, whiting, croaker.

Comments: Sure the air temperature has finally moved up to near-normal, but that doesn’t mean action will quickly pick up in the surf. Cherry Grove Pier reported a water temperature reading of 56 degrees on the surface and 54 on the bottom at midday Thursday, with only a few small whiting and croaker being caught this week. Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters hit the 10-Mile Reef east of Murrells Inlet on Thursday and found plentiful black sea bass, many in the 12-inch range, and several keepers above the 13-inch minimum size limit (seven fish per person per day). Maples’ crew also caught keeper weakfish above the 12-inch minimum size limit (one fish per person per day). Sheepshead, however, were nowhere to be found.

Offshore

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

Comments: Chris Lawhon of Marlin Quay Marina and his crew aboard Molar Man, a 42-foot Yellowfin, headed out in rough seas on Wednesday in search of wahoo, and came home with a Carolina offshore slam. The crew caught eight wahoo, two dolphin and a blackfin tuna with the largest wahoo weighing 53.9 pounds and making the leaderboard in the South Carolina Wahoo Series. A near twin, 52.1-pound wahoo was also in the box. “We fished from the (Winyah) Scarp south to the (Georgetown) Hole and we were picking them off all through there,” said Lawhon, who fished in depths of 180-200 feet the whole day, alternating between high school trolling and trolling dead ballyhoo. “The water temperature was 71-72 degrees all day, there was some grass (sargassum) and we saw a few rips. It was good fishing weather, just rough.” The New Inlet Princess ran its first trip of 2018 on Saturday, with a group from Coastal Carolina University’s Saltwater Fishing Club among the crew. The trip produced a great catch of grouper, amberjack, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, grey triggerfish and grunts. The annual Shallow-Water Grouper Spawning Season Closure is in effect through April 30 and red snapper are closed indefinitely in the South Atlantic region and must be released.

Freshwater

Look For: Bream, crappie, bass, catfish.

Comments: “It’s wide open,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle after a hectic Thursday morning at his bait and tackle shop. Stalvey reports limits of bream caught on the Little Pee Dee and Waccamaw, with anglers fishing crickets under floats and worms on the bottom. “The crickets (under floats) are hit or miss, and they’re still catching a lot on red worms,” said Stalvey. “With this warmer water they’ll be pulling back up (to shallower water) hitting crickets.” Stalvey has had a hard time getting a read on bass lately. “They’ve been weird, kind of hard to pinpoint.” said Stalvey. “One day they’re hitting on the bottom, the next day hitting toward the top.” Stalvey suggests using a Texas-rigged worm or a Senko, and trying top-water lures. “The bass will be pulling up, Saturday’s the full moon,” he said. Crappie continue to hit minnows or beetle spins while cut shad is a prime bait for catfish.

Conway duo finishes in runner-up position

March 31, 2018 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Conway duo finishes in runner-up position

Noah Jones of Conway, with Manning Feldner in the background, shows off a 5.63-pound bass he caught during the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Youth Bass Fishing Championship Saturday on Lake Murray. The fish was the sixth-largest caught in the high school division. Submitted photo
Outdoors
‘They’re becoming accomplished little anglers’: Conway fishing duo finishes runner-up

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

March 30, 2018 04:07 PM

Updated March 30, 2018 04:55 PM

With a proud poppa at the helm, the Conway bass-fishing duo of Manning Feldner and Noah Jones notched another fine finish in the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Youth Bass Fishing Championship Saturday on Lake Murray.

Feldner and Jones of Conway High School teamed to weigh in a five-bass limit of 17.79 pounds, good for second place in the high school division.

Caleb Chasteen and Jamison Cummings of White Knoll High School, located in Lexington, enjoyed the home-lake advantage and won the division with a weight of 20.09 pounds.

The event featured high school and middle school divisions with a total of 96 two-angler teams competing. The weigh-in was held as part of the Palmetto Sportsmen’s Classic at the South Carolina State Fairgrounds.

Feldner and Jones won the middle school division of the event two years ago, representing Conway Middle School. Now, as 16-year-old sophomores at Conway High School, the duo returned to the same scene and narrowly missed claiming first place again, this time in the high school division.

“I’m proud of them, they’re becoming accomplished little anglers,” said Chris Jones, Noah Jones’ father and the captain of the team.

“I told them Saturday while they were fishing, with me just sitting back and watching them I can see how much they’ve changed, how they’re working together better as a team. They’ve got better mechanics – casting, fighting the fish, the decision making, lure choices – they’re doing so much better. They’re an easy team to coach. I don’t have to do a lot of coaching, they know what to do.”

Feldner and Jones pre-fished the tournament on Friday (March 23), with the elder Jones also able to fish the practice round.

“We were allowed to practice on Friday, and we spent the whole day out there,” said Chris Jones. “We were able to develop a game plan the night before the tournament.

“We found fish on the bed ready to spawn, and on the day of the tournament, three of the five fish they weighed in came off the beds we found the day before.”

Four of the five bass they weighed in were caught on wacky-rigged watermelon-red Senkos, with the other fish hitting a half-once red river craw jig.

Fishing with the 14-inch minimum size limit of Lake Murray, the day for the duo was highlighted by 5.63-pounder caught by Noah Jones, which wound up being the sixth-largest weighed in the high school division. The other four fish, all largemouth, ranged from 2.25 to 3.5 pounds.

Aside from Conway High School, teams from Conway Middle School, Whittemore Park Middle School, Carolina Forest High School and Waccamaw High School competed in the event.

Bennett Lawshe and James Clark of Waccamaw High School finished 12th with an aggregate of 11.89 pounds.

Jackson Denny and Bowman Davis of Carolina Forest High School finished 32nd with an aggregate of 7.30 pounds.

Mason Hardee and Will Hardee of Conway Middle School finished 15th in the middle school division with a weight of 2.63 pounds.
Terrific Tom

Capt. Buddy Smith, a native of Myrtle Beach, took to the woods a few days after the start of turkey season on private property near Newberry.

Smith was guiding Capt. Jason Snead on the turkey hunting trip and after a slow start, it got very interesting for the duo.

Snead took down two gobblers with one shot, but when Smith walked up on the birds, he was amazed. One of the gobblers was an erythritic phase turkey, a highly unusual reddish color.

“It was the most beautiful turkey I’ve ever seen,” said Smith. “I was in shock when we walked up to it.”

The bird weighed 20 pounds, with a 10-inch beard and 1-and-1/4-inch spurs.

“It’s a genetic mutation-type thing that pops up every once in a while in turkeys,” said Charles Ruth, Turkey Project Supervisor for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. “You can have four color phases. You have a smoky gray, I get a lot of calls about them, but not many at all on the eurythritic.”

Snead’s bird is one of two eurythritic turkeys Ruth is aware of that have been harvested thus far statewide in the 2018 season, which opened on March 20.

“Two eurythritic (turkeys) this year is pretty unusual,” said Ruth. “They’re a beautiful bird.”


Noah Jones of Conway, with Manning Feldner in the background, shows off a 5.63-pound bass he caught during the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Youth Bass Fishing Championship Saturday on Lake Murray. The fish was the sixth-largest caught in the high school division. Submitted photo
Outdoors
‘They’re becoming accomplished little anglers’: Conway fishing duo finishes runner-up

By Gregg Holshouser

For The Sun News

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March 30, 2018 04:07 PM

Updated March 30, 2018 04:55 PM

With a proud poppa at the helm, the Conway bass-fishing duo of Manning Feldner and Noah Jones notched another fine finish in the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Youth Bass Fishing Championship Saturday on Lake Murray.

Feldner and Jones of Conway High School teamed to weigh in a five-bass limit of 17.79 pounds, good for second place in the high school division.

Caleb Chasteen and Jamison Cummings of White Knoll High School, located in Lexington, enjoyed the home-lake advantage and won the division with a weight of 20.09 pounds.
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The event featured high school and middle school divisions with a total of 96 two-angler teams competing. The weigh-in was held as part of the Palmetto Sportsmen’s Classic at the South Carolina State Fairgrounds.

Feldner and Jones won the middle school division of the event two years ago, representing Conway Middle School. Now, as 16-year-old sophomores at Conway High School, the duo returned to the same scene and narrowly missed claiming first place again, this time in the high school division.

“I’m proud of them, they’re becoming accomplished little anglers,” said Chris Jones, Noah Jones’ father and the captain of the team.

“I told them Saturday while they were fishing, with me just sitting back and watching them I can see how much they’ve changed, how they’re working together better as a team. They’ve got better mechanics – casting, fighting the fish, the decision making, lure choices – they’re doing so much better. They’re an easy team to coach. I don’t have to do a lot of coaching, they know what to do.”

Feldner and Jones pre-fished the tournament on Friday (March 23), with the elder Jones also able to fish the practice round.

“We were allowed to practice on Friday, and we spent the whole day out there,” said Chris Jones. “We were able to develop a game plan the night before the tournament.

“We found fish on the bed ready to spawn, and on the day of the tournament, three of the five fish they weighed in came off the beds we found the day before.”

Four of the five bass they weighed in were caught on wacky-rigged watermelon-red Senkos, with the other fish hitting a half-once red river craw jig.

Fishing with the 14-inch minimum size limit of Lake Murray, the day for the duo was highlighted by 5.63-pounder caught by Noah Jones, which wound up being the sixth-largest weighed in the high school division. The other four fish, all largemouth, ranged from 2.25 to 3.5 pounds.

Aside from Conway High School, teams from Conway Middle School, Whittemore Park Middle School, Carolina Forest High School and Waccamaw High School competed in the event.

Bennett Lawshe and James Clark of Waccamaw High School finished 12th with an aggregate of 11.89 pounds.

Jackson Denny and Bowman Davis of Carolina Forest High School finished 32nd with an aggregate of 7.30 pounds.

Mason Hardee and Will Hardee of Conway Middle School finished 15th in the middle school division with a weight of 2.63 pounds.
Terrific Tom

Capt. Buddy Smith, a native of Myrtle Beach, took to the woods a few days after the start of turkey season on private property near Newberry.

Smith was guiding Capt. Jason Snead on the turkey hunting trip and after a slow start, it got very interesting for the duo.

Snead took down two gobblers with one shot, but when Smith walked up on the birds, he was amazed. One of the gobblers was an erythritic phase turkey, a highly unusual reddish color.

“It was the most beautiful turkey I’ve ever seen,” said Smith. “I was in shock when we walked up to it.”

The bird weighed 20 pounds, with a 10-inch beard and 1-and-1/4-inch spurs.

“It’s a genetic mutation-type thing that pops up every once in a while in turkeys,” said Charles Ruth, Turkey Project Supervisor for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. “You can have four color phases. You have a smoky gray, I get a lot of calls about them, but not many at all on the eurythritic.”

Snead’s bird is one of two eurythritic turkeys Ruth is aware of that have been harvested thus far statewide in the 2018 season, which opened on March 20.

“Two eurythritic (turkeys) this year is pretty unusual,” said Ruth. “They’re a beautiful bird.”