Grand Strand Fishing Report: First it was mackerel, now the dolphin game fish has arrived
By Gregg Holshouser
May 02, 2019 05:57 PM
Look For: Flounder, red drum, black drum, spotted seatrout, sheepshead, bluefish.
Comments: Much of the focus has been on the torrid action for Spanish and king mackerel in the Atlantic Ocean this week, but the action is also hot in local estuaries. May is one of the best months for flounder along the Grand Strand, with action the best in the Pawleys, Murrells and Cherry Grove inlets. Mud minnows are the top live bait available and will work on Carolina rigs or jig heads, casting or slow-trolling. Casting plastic grubs on jig heads will also catch flounder. Numbers of bluefish in the inlets are very high. Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters has worked the area around the Little River jetties this week. “There’s a lot of action, a lot of blues out there,” said Kelly. His clients have cast silver spoons to catch plenty of bluefish with some Spanish mackerel mixed in. Kelly has also produced flounder, spotted seatrout, red drum and black drum this week.
Look For: King mackerel, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, whiting, pompano, black sea bass, spadefish, weakfish, black drum, flounder.
Comments: Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters has enjoyed quite a start to king mackerel season, but was still amazed at what he saw near Belky Bear in 45-50 feet of water Wednesday. “I looked down and there were literally hundreds of kings 15 feet down, right under us,” said Maples. “My fish finder was lit up. We just sat there and watched them. It was amazing.” When Maples started slow-trolling cigar minnows, he could only get one line out and had already caught two kings. The fish were just over the 24-inch minimum size, though, and were released. He moved farther out to about 55 feet of water to find a larger grade of kings in the 10-pound range. “We caught our limit of six in 30-40 minutes,” said Maples. Spanish mackerel action continues to be very good at the near-shore artificial reefs and around inlets such as Little River and Murrells Inlet. The mackerel action is excellent near the beach, too, as the first reported king mackerel catch of the spring off a Grand Strand pier came on the Cherry Grove Pier Wednesday. Veteran angler Charlie Love caught the king, a 21-pound, 12-ounce specimen. Both Cherry Grove and Apache piers report good catches of Spanish mackerel and bluefish. The piers are also producing scattered catches of whiting, croaker, pompano, black drum and weakfish, with sheepshead hanging around the pilings. Maples also noted jelly balls are common, and with the water temperature in the lower to mid 70s, spadefish season is at hand on the near-shore artificial reefs.
Look For: Dolphin, wahoo, blackfin tuna, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grunts, porgy, amberjack.
Comments: Dolphin arrived in the offshore waters in superb numbers this week, and the trolling action doesn’t get much better off the South Carolina coast. With tranquil seas in the offing, numerous boats made the run to the break and landed double-digit numbers of the colorful game fish. Scattered wahoo and blackfin tuna are also available, and Carolina offshore slams (dolphin, wahoo, tuna) have been common. Capt. Shane Bashor of Side Kick Charters in Murrells Inlet split a trip Wednesday between trolling and bottom fishing, and came home with a varied catch. Bashor’s crew caught dolphin and a mako shark while trolling in the vicinity of the Georgetown Hole, and then hit the bottom in depths of 120 feet to catch red hind (strawberry grouper), vermilion snapper, black sea bass, grunts, triggerfish and red porgy. The strawberry grouper weighed nearly five pounds, for a species that typically weighs about a pound. “There’s a lot going on,” said Bashor. “That’s two pretty unusual (catches) in the same day.” When May arrived on Wednesday, the shallow-water grouper spawning season closure ended, and those species were again available for harvest in the Southeast region. For anglers targeting grouper in the last few days, red snapper have been more common, but alas, red snapper must be released in the Southeast region.
Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.
Comments: “The freshwater is getting better and better by the day,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey. “The rivers are still high but they’re all out of flood stage and the water is falling everywhere. When everything gets out of the banks it will be even better.” The Little Pee Dee is known for big bream, and it is currently producing bream and morgans. “They’re catching big ones deep in the woods, in the back creeks,” said Stalvey, who also notes the Bucksport and Ricefields vicinities are producing good catches of bream in 2-4 feet of water. Catfish continue to hit eels and live bream, along with other cut bait such as shad or mullet. Stalvey says bass action remains good but the size of the fish has tapered off. Stalvey recommends using Senkos or any type of Texas-rigged craw bait, buzz baits or any type of surface bait.