A fisherman lands a redfish from the North causeway in Pawley’s Island. JASON LEE firstname.lastname@example.org
May 18, 2017 7:13 PM
Fishing report: Offshore trolling action is excellent, led by mahi-mahi
By Gregg HolshouserEstuary
Look For: Flounder, spotted seatrout, black drum, red drum, sheepshead.
Comments: On the north end, Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters has had a solid week targeting flounder and spotted seatrout. On Tuesday, Kelly headed to Bonaparte Creek with flounder in mind. He had success using mud minnows on 1/4-ounce jig heads. “We caught a lot of flounder,” said Kelly. “Most were under (the minimum size limit), but we got a few keepers.” Flounder have a 14-inch minimum size limit in South Carolina and a 15-inch minimum size limit in North Carolina. On Wednesday, Kelly caught live shrimp in his cast net and proceeded to land double-digits of spotted seatrout while floating the shrimp under popping corks in Tubbs Inlet. Kelly’s crew also caught a few red drum. On the south end, Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service has fished the Winyah Bay vicinity from North Inlet to McClellanville, and has found only decent catches of trout and flounder along with a few reds. McDonald reports a water temperature approaching summer-like levels of 77-78 degrees. Jessica Perry of Perry’s Bait and Tackle in Murrells Inlet reports flounder, as expected, are the fish to target in the inlet. “Flounder are doing pretty good,” said Perry. “They’ve been getting some big ones.” Perry also notes slot red drum are being caught on mud minnows, black drum are in deep holes and sheepshead can be found at the jetties.
Look For: King mackerel, Spanish mackerel, spadefish, flounder, whiting, pompano, croaker, bluefish, black drum, black sea bass, weakfish, sheepshead.
Comments: It’s been a very good May for king mackerel fishing on bottom spots 10 to 15 miles offshore. Slow-trolling live bait such as menhaden or dead cigar minnows will do the trick in areas such as The Jungle and Belky Bear. Large Spanish mackerel are also in the mix. It is prime time for late spring cobia fishing along the coast of the Carolinas, but cobia cannot be caught or landed (brought to dock) in South Carolina. Cobia can be harvested in state waters of North Carolina, where the minimum size limit it 36 inches. Be sure to check regulations before harvesting a cobia. On near-shore bottom spots, spadefish have arrived for the season. The same spots are producing Spanish mackerel and possibly kings, bluefish, black sea bass, weakfish and flounder, plus plenty of sharks are on the prowl. Numerous species are a possibility on Grand Strand piers with calmer days with clear water near the beach producing the best catches. Look for Spanish mackerel, bluefish, whiting, croaker, pompano, black drum and sheepshead. Get your catch in quick from the piers, before a shark nabs it right off the line. Ronnie Goodwin of the Cherry Grove Pier reported a surface water temperature of 77 degrees Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
Look For: Dolphin, wahoo, blackfin tuna, sailfish, blue marlin, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, porgy, grunts, grouper, amberjack.
Comments: It’s prime time to catch a box full of dolphin in areas along the break such as Winyah Scarp, Blackjack Hole and Georgetown Hole. That’s exactly what Eric Cox’s crew aboard Coolin’ Out did Wednesday, boating 21 total dolphin including several nice gaffers. Wahoo and blackfin tuna are in the trolling mix, with blue marlin and sailfish lurking in the vicinity also. Bottom fishing has been superb with vermilion snapper heading the catch. Plenty of black sea bass, triggerfish, red porgy, amberjack and grunts are in the mix, along with the occasional grouper. Best catches are in depths of 90 feet and deeper. Red snapper cannot be harvested in the South Atlantic Region and must be released. Red snapper should be vented if necessary before being released.
Look For: Bream, catfish, bass, crappie.
Comments: With a dry spell on hand, river levels are dropping nicely, and the fishing is picking up. The Waccamaw is in great shape at 7.42 feet in Conway late Thursday afternoon, and the Little Pee Dee is getting there, at 6.3 feet at Galivants Ferry at 5 p.m. Thursday. “About one more week and (the Little Pee Dee) should be perfect,” said Gage Fortson of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle. “The water’s been really high lately, and when it gets down the bite is going to be really good.” Look for bream hitting crickets and worms in 2 to 4 feet of water. Catfish action has been very good on eels, shiners and cut shad and herring.
A large sandbar shark tangled lines beside Pain Killer Wednesday about 40 miles off Murrells Inlet. Dr Jason Rosenberg for The Sun News
Offshore fishing trip included encounters with a variety of fish – and one large shark
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
Every local offshore angler worth his salt knows May is prime time for offshore trolling off the Carolina coast, when the Gulf Stream ushers in northward migrating dolphin of the biggest numbers and largest size of the calendar year.
The opportunity is there to battle the feisty, colorful species and put plenty of superb-eating fish, along with blackfin tuna and wahoo, in the box.
Such a trolling trip is exactly what Garden City Beach resident Dr. Jason Rosenberg had in mind for this week’s edition of Fishing with Friends Wednesday aboard his 32-foot Contender, Pain Killer.
When a moderate westerly wind was blowing at mid-morning Wednesday, there was a hint of disappointment in the air as the crew of five knew it would be difficult to make the run on limited time to the “pretty water” where the meat fish, particularly dolphin, could be found.
Capt. Jay Sconyers, owner/operator of Aces Up Fishing, has been at the helm of Rosenberg’s Wednesday excursions for seven years, and headed past the Murrells Inlet sea buoy in a south-southeasterly direction, albeit in choppy 3-5 foot seas.
A day earlier, Sconyers had to venture 57 miles offshore to find pretty water and dolphin on a charter trip, and such a run just wasn’t feasible with the sea conditions and a late morning departure time.
Plan B was a pretty nice option though – bottom fishing in 90-115 feet of water on ledges around 40 miles offshore. A little over 30 miles out, a lengthy weed line was spotted, observed and noted for later.
About 90 minutes after departure, Sconyers pulled the engines back, maneuvered on top of the spot and the crew, also including Earl Fender of San Diego, Jimmy Kaminski of Pawleys Island and myself, dropped down cigar minnows and fresh cut bait 115 feet to the bottom.
For the first few minutes, the only bites were from small fish nibbling at the bait. After about 10 minutes, the bite of vermilion snapper, known locally as beeliners, turned on, and the catches were consistent.
There was plenty of variety on the reef, though, and soon a mix of triggerfish, grunts and black sea bass, along with a red hind (strawberry grouper) came over the gunwale. A scamp (grouper) measured just under the 20-inch minimum size and was released.
There were some big bites too. Red snapper, called genuines by locals, made a good showing, with four caught on the day. Two of the red snapper were in the 5-8 pound range, one in the 10-12 pound range, and I was the lucky angler who battled a 20-pound beauty to the surface.
But after each red snapper was caught it was the same old drill – they had to be released per NOAA Fisheries’ ban on the species, which has been in place in the South Atlantic region since 2010.
Sconyers carefully vented the fish and sent them on their way back to the bottom. Whether the fish survived the ordeal of being reeled up 115 feet, no one will ever know.
Rosenberg speaks for a multitude of recreational anglers with his thoughts on the issue.
“I think we catch (red snapper) on every trip we go bottom fishing,” said Rosenberg. “It should be reasonable to restudy the population and allow us one fish to take home per trip.”
A couple more big bites brought hookups with a pair of large sharks, including a massive sandbar shark, also known as a brown shark, that was an estimated 8-feet long, weighed over 200 pounds and caused a huge tangle of lines.
With a limit of beeliners (12-inch minimum size, 5-fish per person) in the box but only a few black sea bass, Sconyers headed back in for a spot in about 90 feet of water to target more bass.
On the way, we stopped at the well-defined weed line and switched to trolling ballyhoo. The line was perfectly formed and was active, but after nearly an hour of trolling we knew it wasn’t holding any dolphin.
On to the bottom spot in depths of 90 feet, where a few more black sea bass were caught. But this area was heavily patrolled by numerous Atlantic Sharpnose sharks, and tackle tangles got old quick.
As the afternoon wore on, the wind had slowly died down and the seas were a much more manageable 2-3 feet on a comfortable ride home at over 40 knots. A very nice end to another superb edition of Rosenberg’s Fishing with Friends.
S.C. Governor’s Cup
The 2017 South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series opened on Thursday, with the first day of fishing in the first of five tournaments in the series – the Bohicket Marina Invitational Billfish Tournament.
The opening day produced some of the best blue marlin action in the history of the series.
Twenty-eight boats out of the field of 29 fished the first day, with 16 blue marlin caught and released and three more brought to the dock at Bohicket Marina, located on John’s Island south of Charleston.
The last time three blue marlin were weighed in during one day in the series was in the 2005 Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament according to Amy Dukes, S.C. Governor’s Cup coordinator for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
Game On weighed in the largest blue, a 500.2-pounder that measured 109 1/2 inches from the tip of the lower jaw to fork of the tail.
Home Run’s blue marlin weighed 438.4 pounds and measured 109 inches while Rare Breed’s blue weighed 412.8 pounds and measured 106 inches. All three boats hail from Charleston area marinas.
The federal minimum size limit for blue marlin to be landed is 99 inches, but they must measure 105 inches to be eligible for Governor’s Cup competition.
Bad Becky and Gryphon both released two blue marlin on Thursday to take the points lead after one day with 1,200 points (600 per blue marlin released).
Fishing continued Friday and Saturday with boats allowed to fish two of the three days.
Dukes said most of the marlin were caught in the vicinity of the 226 Hole, 380 Hole and Ammo Dump, with the Georgetown Hole also producing some fish.
Marlin Quay Carolina Slam
The meatfish tournament out of Marlin Quay Marina in Murrells Inlet opened Friday with the first of nine days of fishing, concluding on May 20.
For more information, call 843-651-4444.
Georgetown Meatfish Slam
The event was postponed but has been rescheduled for June 8 out of Georgetown Landing Marina. For more information, call 843-546-1776.
Gregg Holshouser: wholshouser
Casting a line? A lot of good bets this weekend in area waterways
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
Look For: Flounder, spotted seatrout, black drum, red drum, bluefish.
Comments: Flounder catches continue to improve in areas such as Cherry Grove, Murrells Inlet and Pawleys, as the water temperature warms into the mid 70s, even the upper 70s on lower tide stages during the day. Spotted seatrout, red drum and black drum are also available but catches are scattered. Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Charters in Little River has observed catches have been best on the last few hours of the falling tide and the start of the rise. Kelly says trout are hitting Vudu shrimp and mud minnows fished on popping corks, with red drum and flounder hitting mud minnows and shrimp fished on the bottom on jig heads. Look for black drum taking shrimp around docks. Kelly has observed water temperatures in the 74 to 75-degree range. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown had a solid trip on Thursday, catching a variety of species in the Winyah Bay vicinity. McDonald’s crew caught four flounder, six trout, two lady fish and whiting. McDonald notes red drum are very scattered. “We catch one here, ride 10 miles and catch another,” McDonald said.
Look For: King mackerel, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, whiting, croaker, black drum, pompano, spadefish, flounder, cobia.
Comments: After a windy weekend, calmer conditions and pretty water prevailed along the beach this week. Predictably, so did the Spanish mackerel and bluefish. Anglers have had success jigging both species off Grand Strand piers Monday through Thursday, using mackerel trees and gold-hook rigs. Shrimp fished on the bottom is producing mainly whiting and croaker, along with some black drum including a few keepers within the 14-26 inch slot limit. A few sizable pompano have also been caught on shrimp, from the piers and the surf. Steve Gann of the Cherry Grove Pier reported a water temperature of 74 degrees Thursday afternoon. Spanish can be found around bait from near the beach to 10 miles offshore, especially around hard-bottom areas and artificial reefs. With the water temperature in the mid-70s, also look for spadefish on the near-shore reefs up to the 10-12 mile range. Head to bottom spots in depths of 55 feet and beyond to find good numbers of king mackerel. All cobia must be released in 2017 in all waters off South Carolina.
Look For: Dolphin, wahoo, tuna, billfish, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, porgy, triggerfish, grunts, grouper, amberjack.
Comments: It is absolutely prime time for offshore trolling, especially for good numbers of dolphin plus blackfin tuna and wahoo. The South Carolina Governo’s Cup Billfishing Series is underway at Bohicket Marina and the 50th annual Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament is two weeks away, so billfish are also in the trolling mix. Bottom fishing is very good on spots in depths of 90 feet and beyond, with vermilion snapper the dominant species. A good mix of black sea bass, triggerfish, porgy, grunts and a few grouper are also available, with plenty of sharks to avoid. Red snapper are off-limits and must be released in the Southeast Region.
Look For: Bream, catfish, bass, bream.
Comments: Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway reports bream fishing is excellent on the Waccamaw and the Intracoastal Waterway, with fish hitting crickets and worms in 2-4 feet of water. The Waccamaw from Conway to the Ricefields is producing good catches of fish. Stalvey says catfish catches are good on eels, shiners and frozen shad and herring. “There haven’t been any giants, but good ones,” said Stalvey. Bass are in a little deeper water. “The topwater bite had kind of shut off,” said Stalvey, who has used swim baits and crawfish lures to catch fish this week. A few anglers continue to catch crappie on minnows and jigs. As for the Pee Dee rivers, Stalvey says they are “high as a Georgia pine.”