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Prime season for spotted seatrout

November 16, 2018 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Prime season for spotted seatrout


Charlie Nash of Garden City Beach shows off a black sea bass caught on a live-bottom area just offshore of Myrtle Beach. As the water cools in autumn, keeper black sea bass above the 13-inch minimum size limit move into shallower water. Gregg Holshouser For The Sun News
Outdoors
Grand Strand Fishing Report: The prime season for spotted seatrout has arrived

By Gregg Holshouser

For The Sun News

November 15, 2018 05:51 PM

Updated November 15, 2018 05:51 PM
Estuary

Look For: Spotted seatrout, black drum, red drum, flounder, sheepshead.

Comments: It is prime season for spotted seatrout, also known as winter trout or speckled trout, and the consensus is there are plenty of fish available from Georgetown to Brunswick County, N.C. The consensus is also that the majority of the fish being caught are under the 14-inch minimum size limit which applies to North and South Carolina. “There are lots of small trout around,” said Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters in Little River. “We’re starting to catch some keepers, but most trout are 13 3/4 inches.” There are also plenty of red drum around, plus black drum and flounder. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown headed down the Intracoastal Waterway south of Winyah Bay and found plenty of fish on a trip early this week. McDonald’s crew caught over 40 trout ranging from 8 to 19 inches in length, with 15 kept for table fare. The group also caught over 20 reds, most on the lower end of South Carolina’s slot limit of 15-23 inches. McDonald used artificial grubs to catch the trout and cut shrimp for the reds. Some of the artificials Kelly used to catch trout included Berkeley Gulp shrimp (white with chartreuse tails) and Vudu shrimp (Cajun Pepper). “With trout, there’s gotta be current,” said Kelly, who noted a water temperature of 62 degrees early in the week. “If the tide’s running good, they’ll be there. Fishing’s really good. If you want to get out there and get your line tight, now’s a really good time to go.”

Inshore

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

Comments: The water temperature has dropped below the 65-degree mark, and king mackerel won’t be available in the near-shore waters much longer. For now, head out to spots in depths of 40-60 feet such as The Jungle, Belky Bear or Buoy City to find kings. “It’s been so nasty and rough,” said Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Fishing Charters in Murrells Inlet. “I’d start at the Bear and then work on out.” The coolest weather of the autumn has arrived, and so have larger black sea bass on bottom spots from 3-15 miles out in 30-50 feet of water. Also don’t be surprised to find some keeper black sea bass at or above the 13-inch minimum size limit on near-shore hard-bottom areas, which are holding weakfish and flounder too. Look for sheepshead to begin showing up on near-shore artificial reefs soon. Michael Wallace of Cherry Grove Pier reports a small run of spots on Wednesday from noon to 4 p.m. Otherwise, Grand Strand piers have been producing scattered catches of whiting, croaker, black drum, weakfish and spots. Wallace noted a water temperature of 64 degrees Wednesday afternoon, and dropping.

Offshore

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

Comments: It’s been a sloppy week in the offshore waters, including a gale warning on Thursday. Seas look fishable for Saturday and Sunday, and wahoo is the prime target for trolling action during autumn. Blackfin tuna are also available and king mackerel a possibility. Bottom fishing is excellent for grouper, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, grey triggerfish, amberjack, red porgy and grunts. Red snapper are common on the offshore reefs and ledges, but must be released indefinitely in the South Atlantic Region.

Freshwater

Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.

Comments: The lower Waccamaw River is the place to be for anglers looking for bream, bass and crappie, from Bucksport to points further south. “The one location I would go to is the Ricefields,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. For bass, Stalvey suggests working outer curves and well into ditch mouths. Both Pee Dee rivers are on the rise, and fishing is tough. The Little Pee Dee at Galivants Ferry was at 8.08 feet Thursday at 4 p.m. and was projected to rise into minor flood stage by Sunday. The Pee Dee at Pee Dee, located between Marion and Florence, was at 19 feet Thursday at 4 p.m. and was expected to rise into moderate flood stage.

First time winners snag big prize

November 10, 2018 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on First time winners snag big prize

Jody Gay, Kevin Sneed and Kimber Sneed show off their 48-pound king mackerel during The Kingfish Cup Sunday off Ocracoke, N.C. Photo courtesy www.OIFC.com
Outdoors
How much money? Crew hauls in biggest sum in king mackerel fishing history with win

By Gregg Holshouser

For The Sun News
November 09, 2018 05:41 PM

In 20 years of fishing in competitive king mackerel tournaments, Kevin Sneed sure picked the right time to win his first one.

Sneed and crew aboard Rigged and Ready, a 31-foot Competition, weathered seas up to 6-8 feet to claim the 2nd annual Kingfish Cup championship Sunday out of Ocracoke, N.C., with a two-king mackerel aggregate of 81 pounds.

The victory is historic, as the Rigged and Ready crew went home with $127,755 in prize money, a sum called the largest in king mackerel tournament history by Capt. Brant McMullan, one of the founders of the Kingfish Cup. The tournament paid out a whopping total of $255,512 to the top four teams.

“It was a special moment for us all,” said Sneed, of Holden Beach, N.C., who was fishing with his wife, Kimber, along with Jimmy Stubbs and Jody Gay. “I didn’t realize it until Brant said ‘Let’s have Team Rigged and Ready come on down, they’re about to receive the largest payout in king mackerel tournament history.’ “
Be the first to know.

A cold front postponed the championship, which was originally scheduled to be a two-day event last Friday and Saturday, with each competing team able to weigh their largest king mackerel each day.

Instead, the 31 competing teams headed out Sunday morning, facing sloppy seas thanks to a 15-20 knot northeast wind and tasked with weighing in two kings in one day for their two-fish aggregate.

Rigged and Ready started by working Weezle Rock, 10 miles south of Ocracoke Inlet, but action was slow. Sneed got a tip from the Wahooligans team that there was some activity at Potlicker Rock, so he headed a few miles north to that spot.

Sneed and crew had bait issues earlier in the week when most of the menhaden and bluefish they had caught and penned died.

“A buddy gave me six or eight mullet that morning and that’s what we wound up catching our fish on,” said Sneed.

Once at Potlicker Rock, they quickly landed a 33-pound king that hit a long, top-lined bait.

The crew then landed a few medium-size kings, but was still looking for another smoker. Around 2:30 p.m., they got it.

A king nailed a large mullet, once again on the long, top-line and took off, headed offshore.

Gay grabbed the rod and they chased down the fish. About 15 minutes later, Sneed gaffed and pulled aboard a huge king that wound up being a 48-pounder and in essence the tournament-winner.

“I seem to catch the big ones the day before or the day after the tournament,” said Sneed. “All the stars were lined up that day.”

After a slow, rough ride back to Ocracoke, Team Rigged and Ready was declared the winner.

“We had never won a tournament before,” said Sneed. “We were truly blessed to get the bite.”

The Kingfish Cup is the brainchild of the McMullan family, owners of Ocean Isle Fishing Center (OIFC) in Ocean Isle Beach, N.C., and is comprised of four king mackerel tournaments — two at the OIFC, one at Little River and one at Carolina Beach, N.C.

Boats competing in the Kingfish Cup combined the total weight of three of their four biggest kings caught in the four tournaments, and received a point per pound, with 31 qualifying for the Kingfish Cup championship.

One McMullan entry finished in second place, as Capt. Brant McMullan, his wife Amy and 9-year-old son Brayden brought in kings weighing 42 and 24 pounds for a 67-pound aggregate.

After encountering wahoo, blackfin tuna and sharks in 76-degree water in an area 15 miles off Capt Hatteras, Brant McMullan quickly decided to head back in.

Five miles inshore in 73-degree water, the family trio landed their two kings, with Amy and Brayden serving as anglers.

After years of fishing professionally, especially with his brother, Barrett, and having the “newness” wear off, Brant McMullan has found new enjoyment while competing with his family.

“It has become much more fun and more of an accomplishment when we can have success with our kids,” said Brant McMullan. “You’ve got teams out there with a bunch of full grown men. I kind of like the underdog status and the wife and kids (including 13-year-old Caroline) are into it.

“Everybody contributes. nobody sleeps in the bean bag anymore. I’m very proud of that fact.”

Team Rasta Rocket finished third with a 64-pound aggregate after weighing in kings weighing 34 and 30 pounds. The team won $25,740.

Team Breaking Bad finished fourth with a 59-pound aggregate, including a 34-pound king. The team won $25,362.

For more information on the series and the championship, visit www.kingfishcup.com and join the email list.
SALTT event

Last Saturday marked the second of six events in the 2018-19 Student Angler League Tournament Trail out of the Carroll Campbell Marine Complex in Georgetown.

SALTT features divisions for red drum and largemouth bass, with middle and high school anglers competing against each other.

Once again, the anglers were met with windy weather thanks to a strong cold front that rolled through the night before.

Still, the anglers brought quality fish and limits to the weigh-in at the complex located on the Sampit River.

Dylan Skipper and Walker McKenzie of Andrews won the High School Redfish Division with a two-fish limit of 8.58 pounds, including the big fish in the division, a 4.69-pounder. Noah Payne and Kadyn Kellahan of Andrews finished second with 5.22 pounds, followed by Christa Edmonds of Carolina Forest in third with 3.51 pounds.

Devan Harrelson and Carson Watford of Georgetown Middle School won the Middle School Redfish Division with two-fish weighing 5.15 pounds, including the 3.36-pound big fish in the division. Donovan Harris of Conway Middle School and Wyatt Moore of Whittemore Park Middle School were second with 4.02 pounds.

Conway’s Austin Winburn and Chandler Brown had a five-fish aggregate of 10.59 pounds to win the High School Bass Division. Avery Williams of St. James finished second with 9.10 pounds including the big bass of the division, a 2.60-pounder. Andrew Ackerman and Jeremy Owens of Georgetown were third with 7.99 pounds.

Gavin Porter of Loris Middle School fished solo and won the Middle School Bass Division with a five-fish limit of 7.53-pounds, plus caught the big bass of the division, a 3.02-pounder. Mason Hardee and Will Hardee-McGuirt of Conway Middle School were second with 2.33 pounds. Rosemary Middle School’s Allie Newton was third with 2.02 pounds.

The third tournament in the series will be held Dec. 1, also at the Carroll Campbell Marine Complex.


Brayden McMullan and his dad, Capt. Brant McMullan, show off a 42-pound king mackerel Sunday during The Kingfish Cup off Ocracoke, N.C. Photo courtesy www.OIFC.com

Warmer than normal waters change fishing

November 9, 2018 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Warmer than normal waters change fishing


Capt. Danny Carey of Careyon Charters shows off a huge hogfish caught on Wednesday during an offshore trip out of Murrells Inlet. Submitted photo
Outdoors
Grand Strand Fishing Report: “Bait-stealing critters” lingering with warm water temps

By Gregg Holshouser

For The Sun News

November 08, 2018 05:51 PM

Updated November 08, 2018 06:10 PM
Estuary

Look For: Spotted seatrout, black drum, red drum, flounder, sheepshead.

Comments: It’s just a little warm for early November, says Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions in Murrells Inlet, although colder weather is on the way. Connolly has noted a water temperature in the upper 60s, when lower 60s would be considered closer to normal. “It’s been a little strange for this time of year,” said Connolly. “It’s a higher water temperature than normal, and that’s keeping the bait-stealing critters around.” That has also kept more finger mullet around than usual, and that’s good news. “If you want to catch an inshore slam of nice keepers, getting your hands on some live finger mullet is the way to go,” Connolly said. On a Wednesday trip, Connolly’s crew used mullet to catch several trout, flounder and two upper slot red drum, plus used a combination of shrimp and fiddler crabs to catch four keepers out of eight black drum. Connolly notes that floating live shrimp will also produce fish, especially trout. “With live shrimp on a float, you’ll catch 90 percent dinks and 10 percent keepers,” said Connolly. Artificials such as Z-Man paddle tail Swimbaits, Vudu shrimp, DOA shrimp and Trout Trick will also work for trout.
Inshore

Look For: King mackerel, Spanish mackerel, red drum, bluefish, spadefish, sheepshead, black sea bass, flounder, weakfish, whiting, croaker, pompano, black drum.
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Comments: King mackerel action has slowed near the beach except, perhaps, a few large loner kings. Capt. Perrin Wood of Southern Saltwater Charters recommends heading to live-bottom areas and ledges in 50-60 feet of water to find schooling kings. The water temperature is about to take a major plunge in the next week, meaning action for black sea bass (13-inch minimum size limit ) will be good on bottom spots from three to 15 miles out in 30-50 feet of water. Near-shore bottom spots are holding weakfish, whiting, flounder and perhaps bull red drum. Michael Wallace of Cherry Grove Pier reports a good run of spots occurred on the pier from Friday through Sunday, with most of the fish being small. Apache Pier also reported a spot run last weekend. The piers are producing a mix of whiting, pompano, black drum, red drum, flounder, bluefish and a few Spanish mackerel. Wallace reported a water temperature of 69 degrees Thursday afternoon.
Offshore

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

Comments: Capt. Danny Carey of Careyon Charters headed offshore in his 30-foot Sea Hunt on Wednesday with wahoo on the brain. Carey tried high-speed trolling and meat trolling, but didn’t get a wahoo bite in the vicinity of the Georgetown Hole in 75-degree water. Carey and crew did land six blackfin tuna. “The water is still on the dirty side out there,” said Carey. “That water’s got to get bluer.” Carey and crew did hit the bottom and had a very good catch of standard reef species such as vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish and porgy. The highlight of the day was four hogfish, including a huge 19-pounder that hit a secret bait. They also caught three red snapper, including one in the 15-pound range. Of course, red snapper cannot be harvested in the South Atlantic Region and must be released.
Freshwater

Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.

Comments: After the worst flooding in the history of the Waccamaw River, there are finally signs of life. “We’re starting to see a little life – bream, crappie, bass and catfish,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle. The lower end of the Pee Dee and Waccamaw rivers, in the Ricefields vicinity, has produced some fish this week. Anglers are urged to limit the number of fish harvested until the full extent of the fish kill caused by Hurricane Florence’s flooding can be determined. Further upstream, the situation is dire. Stalvey noted a bass tournament was held on the Waccamaw River in the Conway vicinity and there were no bass caught by the field. “Nobody’s fishing up there on the Waccamaw near Conway,” said Stalvey. The Waccamaw was at 8.61 feet at 3:15 p.m. Thursday at Conway and making good tides. The Little Pee Dee River was still high, at 7.67 feet at 4 p.m. Thursday at Galivants Ferry.