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Category Archives: Live Great Outdoors Blog

The Dog Days of Tarpon Fishing

July 21, 2017 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on The Dog Days of Tarpon Fishing

image: men fishing
Fishermen line the public fishing dock at Cherry Grove Park at 53rd Avenue North in North Myrtle Beach. JASON LEE jlee@thesunnews.com
Outdoors
July 20, 2017 5:31 PM
Fishing report: The dog days of summer have arrived, and so has a bounty of tarpon

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

Estuary

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

Comments: Late July has arrived, and so have tarpon in local estuaries. “Tarpon are here pretty strong,” said Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown. McDonald reports Capt. Rod Thomas, better known as “Capt. Ponytail,” caught and released a tarpon in the range of 60 to 70 pounds earlier this week in Winyah Bay. Smallish Little River Inlet doesn’t attract tarpon as well as sprawling Winyah Bay, but Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters had an interesting tarpon encounter this week. “We had a tarpon hit a live shrimp under a popping cork, and he showed himself (by jumping),” said Kelly. “It was on 20-pound test – didn’t last long.” Kelly estimated the tarpon was in the 50-pound range. Kelly has noticed unusually large menhaden in the Little River area and thinks the tarpon are following those into the estuary. McDonald had a solid day early this week in the Winyah Bay vicinity, catching 15 red drum and three flounder using cut shrimp, plastic grubs and live finger mullet. Kelly had a busy day on a Thursday trip fishing several spots in the Little River vicinity. Kelly produced spotted seatrout, red drum, black drum and flounder, with most fish on the smallish size except for a 24-inch red.
Inshore

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

Comments: Spanish mackerel action has been excellent in the vicinity of near-shore artificial reefs this week. Case in point, Capt. Jeff Maples’ outing Thursday aboard his charter boat – Reel Salty. On a morning trip, Maples trolled mackerel trees tipped by Clark spoons on a No. 1 planer in the vicinity of Paradise Reef, located three miles off Murrells Inlet. Maples’ customers kept 17 Spanish ranging in size from 15 to 20 inches for a fish fry. Earlier this week, Maples caught a 26-inch king mackerel on the same rig. After Spanish fishing, Maples fished the bottom on the reef’s structure and has been catching mainly flounder and black sea bass. “It’s been 10 shorts to one keeper (for flounder),” said Maples. South Carolina’s minimum size limit for flounder is now 15 inches with a daily bag limit of 10 per person per day with a maximum boat limit of 20 flounder per day. Spadefish are also available on the reefs. Best catches of king mackerel are on bottom spots in 55 to 90 feet of water. Whiting, croaker and black drum are the main catch on Grand Strand piers with scattered catches of flounder, red drum, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, sheepshead, spadefish and trout. The ocean water temperature was a bit cooler than normal, at 80 degrees on the surface and 77 degrees on the bottom, at 4 p.m. Thursday at the Apache Pier.
Offshore

Look For: Blackfin tuna, wahoo, dolphin, sailfish, vermilion snapper, triggerfish, white grunts, red porgy, black sea bass, grouper, amberjack.

Comments: The Dog Days of Summer are approaching but there has been some productive trolling near the break. Ed Keelin of Georgetown Landing Marina reports the Painkiller had a super trolling day out of Georgetown, catching blackfin tuna, wahoo and dolphin for a Meatfish Slam. Sailfish action is good further out in the Gulf Stream with some being encountered near the break, also. Bottom fishing continues to be excellent, particularly in 100-plus feet of water. Look for plenty of vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, red porgy and grunts along with grouper and amberjack. Anglers should be aware that cobia cannot be harvested in 2017 in South Carolina waters (to three miles offshore) or federal waters (beyond three miles) and must be released. Also, red snapper must be released in the South Atlantic region.
Freshwater

Look For: Bream, catfish, bass, crappie.

Comments: River levels continue to be very good on the Waccamaw and Little Pee Dee, and the fish are responding. “The bream are flat out chompin’,” said River Squires of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle. Squires reports shop owner/operator Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey personally hit the water this week to catch a nice mess of bream on the Waccamaw in the Cox Ferry Lake vicinity. “He caught over 20 good-size eaters, but he had to go through 40 to get those 20,” said Squires. Stalvey was fishing crickets in four feet of water on the edge of a grass bed. Squires reports live bait – specifically black salties – are producing good catches of blue catfish on the Waccamaw. “(The bass fishing is) off and on,” said Squires. “They’re catching a lot of fish but the ones with size are hard to come by.” Squires recommends using a Bang-O-Lure or buzz baits for bass, especially early and late in the day.

New boat issues over, Blue Sky wins Megadock Billfishing Tournament

July 15, 2017 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on New boat issues over, Blue Sky wins Megadock Billfishing Tournament

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The crew of Blue Sky, which won the Megadock Billfishing Tournament last weekend out of Charleston City Marina, brings a blue marlin to the boat. Submitted photo

Read more here: http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/sports/outdoors/article161468128.html#storylink=cpy
After missing ‘hometown tournament,’ Pawleys Island fishing crew makes up for lost time

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

After a rocky start to the South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series aboard his new edition of Blue Sky, it all came together for Pawleys Island’s Greg Smith and crew last weekend at the Megadock Billfishing Tournament out of Charleston City Marina.

Smith is breaking in a 2017 60-foot Spencer yacht and had designs on fishing in four of five tournaments in the series.

Working the kinks out of the custom-built yacht caused the Blue Sky crew to miss the 50th annual Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament in May and one day of fishing in the Carolina Billfish Classic in June, the second and third events of the series.

“We’ve just been shaking out some new boat problems – they just seem to happen at the wrong time,” said Smith. “Hopefully that’s all behind us now.”

As a Georgetown County resident, missing the 50th annual Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament was a bummer for Smith.

“We’ve been in Georgetown since 2001 and that’s my hometown tournament,” said Smith, who docks the boat at Hazzard Marine in Georgetown. “That being number 50, it was pretty hard. We’ll be back there next year.”

The Blue Sky crew finally fished a complete tournament in the Megadock, releasing a total of 10 sailfish and one blue marlin in two superb days of fishing to win the fourth of five events in the Governor’s Cup series.

“We were happy to get everything behind us and get to do the whole tournament and do well,” said Blue Sky Capt. Jay Weaver, also a Pawleys Island resident. “Winning it made us all feel a lot better with the troubles we’ve had.”

Blue Sky released four sailfish and the blue marlin on the first day of fishing before releasing six sails last Friday on their second day to finish with 2,600 points, tied for most points in a series event this year.

Current Governor’s Cup leader Gryphon finished second with 2,200 points after releasing five sails and a blue marlin.

Gryphon holds a commanding series lead – 5,875 points to second-place Mister Pete’s 3,875 – heading into the series finale, the Edisto Invitational Billfish Tournament scheduled for next week (July 19-22).

Weaver is in his first year as captain of Blue Sky, after years of serving as skipper of Charleston-based Daymaker. The Governor’s Cup veteran had four naked ballyhoo on small rods for sailfish and a lure for blue marlin on an 80-pound class rod in his trolling spread.

“It was a really good sailfish bite,” said Weaver. “We fish naked ballyhoo on circle hooks. Once this time of year comes around and there are less marlin, we go to all naked.”

For more information on the tournament and the series, visit www.govcup.dnr.sc.gov.
Conway Bassmasters Tournament

Patrick Cook and Joey McLean weighed in a five-bass limit of 14.47 pounds to win the Conway Bassmasters Annual River Fest Bass Tournament last Saturday out of Bucksport Marina.

Cook and McLean, of the Hemingway area, finished atop a field of 57 teams to earn $1,400.

“We paid out just over $6,000. It was a good turnout and a good payback,” said tournament director Chris Jones.

The husband-wife team of Ricky and Karen Bellamy of Longs finished second with a five-fish limit of 13.17 pounds to win $800. The father-son team of Timmy and River Squires of Conway won third place and $600 with a five-fish limit of 12.46 pounds.

The big fish, a 5.97-pounder, was weighed in by Ryan and Wayne Marsh of Myrtle Beach, earning $300.

Anglers interested in competing in future bass tournaments out of Conway can contact Chris Jones at cjones206@yahoo.com for more information.

Spanish Mackerel are back!

July 14, 2017 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Spanish Mackerel are back!

image: man fishing
Dennis Caruso tosses a line during a recent visit to the Myrtle Beach State Park Pier. Janet Blackmon Morgan jblackmon@thesunnews.com
Outdoors
July 13, 2017 6:37 PM
Improved conditions lure Spanish mackerel back to the area, much to anglers’ delight

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

Estuary

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

Comments: Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown produced a solid catch of nine red drum on a Wednesday trip in the Winyah Bay vicinity, and one surprise – an 8.5-pound sheepshead. On Monday, it was more drum action for McDonald as his crew caught eight reds and four black drum while floating cut shrimp and finger mullet. Two of the reds were over the 15- to 23-inch slot limit, measuring 24.5 and 26 inches. On the north end, Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Charters said “it’s been a roller coaster ride of fishing this week.” Catches were slim for much of the week for Kelly, until Thursday. Kelly found good action on a rising tide in the Little River area, starting early in the day by catching spotted seatrout on top-water lures such as a Zara Spook. They switched to live shrimp on popping corks and, as Kelly said, “wore the trout out,” including a four-pounder. At high tide, Kelly switched to live bait on 1/4-ounce jig heads, jerk shad and Gulp shrimp to catch flounder and more trout. Kelly also noted large menhaden can be found for bait, and are producing bull reds at the Little River Inlet.
Inshore

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

Comments: After a long windy stretch, sea conditions improved this week along the beach and in the near-shore waters, and so did the fishing. Spanish mackerel catches have been very good, especially in the vicinity of the near-shore artificial reefs such as Paradise, Jim Caudle and Ron McManus. Megan Maples of Reel Salty Charters reports a super catch of Spanish while trolling jigfish on Thursday at Paradise Reef, located three miles east of Murrells Inlet. The Reel Salty crew kept 14 Spanish in the 15-20 inch range, plus caught a 20-plus inch weakfish and a sizable bluefish. South Carolina’s new flounder minimum size limit of 15 inches had an impact on the trip, as the crew caught as many as 10 flounder that measured over 14 inches, though all under the 15-inch mark were released. Spadefish have also made a good showing on the near-shore reefs this week. Morgan Marohl of Cherry Grove Pier reports improved action this week with catches of black drum and red drum in the morning and whiting, croaker and pompano in the afternoon. Marohl reported a water temperature of 84 degrees both on the surface and at the bottom late afternoon Thursday.
Offshore

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

Comments: Trolling can still produce some very solid trips in the heat of summer, as Underdog out of Murrells Inlet proved earlier this week. Underdog caught a variety of species including nine blackfin tuna, a pair of dolphin, three king mackerel, a wahoo and an amberjack. There was also plenty of action from barracuda on the trip. Sailfish action is also excellent especially in the Gulf Stream, with scattered fish closer in. Bottom fishing continues to be excellent on bottom spots in depths of 90 feet and beyond. Look for plenty of action from vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, porgy, amberjack and grouper. Scamp and gag are the most common grouper species encountered. Cobia cannot be harvested in 2017 in South Carolina waters (to three miles offshore) or federal waters (beyond three miles) and must be released. Also, red snapper must be released in the South Atlantic region.
Freshwater

Look For: Bream, catfish, bass, crappie.

Comments: The rivers are in great shape and the catches reflected it this week. Gage Fortson of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle reported a 7-pound largemouth bass was caught on a Bang-O-Lure from the Waccamaw River near Conway earlier this week. River Squires, also of Stalvey’s, reports a 40.6-pound catfish was landed near Conway Marina at the mouth of Kingston Lake. Also, Stalvey’s reported a very nice mess of bream landed from the Little Pee Dee including a big 1.3-pounder. “That was a slab,” said Fortson. Look for bream in 1-4 feet of water on the banks, hitting crickets, red worms or popping bugs.