Flounder size limit in S.C. increasing to 15 inches on Saturday. The Sun News file photo
June 29, 2017 4:22 PM
South Carolina’s flounder limits set to change on Saturday
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
Look For: Flounder, spotted seatrout, black drum, red drum, sheepshead, bluefish.
Comments: Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters in Little River and his clients have had a blast this week with a super early-morning top-water bite of spotted seatrout. Kelly saw a first for him when a trout attacked a Mirrolure at the surface close to daybreak. “I saw a trout jump about five feet out of the water,” he said. “He skied like a king on (the lure).” Casting lures mimicking mullet is the trick to getting the early trout bites. “As long as it looks like a mullet and has a little rattle to it,” Kelly said. “It’s been very consistent.” Trout are also hitting live shrimp on a popping cork for Kelly, who has also been producing 6-8 flounder per trip including 2-3 keepers. Kelly reports over-slot sized red drum in the 27-34 inch range can be found in the vicinity of the jetties at Little River Inlet, hitting live or cut mullet. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown has had good success with black drum this week, plus red drum and flounder. On Tuesday, McDonald produced 15 black drum, a pair of reds in the 20-inch range and a few flounder. On Wednesday, McDonald’s group caught black drum and flounder plus a 3-pound weakfish. McDonald, who noted an 80 degree water temperature in the Winyah Bay vicinity, was using live finger mullet and cut shrimp for bait. Flounder catches have been good this week, with black drum, trout and red drum also available. Tripletail, a summer-time visitor to local estuaries, have made a good showing this week. Anglers should take note, South Carolina’s minimum size limit for flounder will increase to 15 inches on Saturday (July 1). The daily bag limit is decreased to 10 per person per day with a maximum boat limit of 20 flounder per day.
Look For: Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, bluefish, black sea bass, spadefish, weakfish, flounder, whiting, croaker, pompano, black drum, sheepshead and red drum.
Comments: Conditions were relatively calm and the water cleared up along the beach early in the week, and catches off Grand Strand piers responded. The Cherry Grove Pier reported good catches of staple species whiting and croaker, with scattered catches of pompano, black drum, red drum and spots. A few of the red drum were within South Carolina’s 15-23 inch slot limit. Also look for Spanish mackerel, bluefish and flounder off the piers. A cool front was in the offing early in the week, and Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters found himself wearing long-sleeve t-shirts early in the day, a rarity for late June. Maples has found good numbers of flounder on near-shore artificial reefs such as Paradise Reef three miles east of Murrells Inlet, but has found few keepers above the old 14-inch minimum size limit. The daily bag limit is decreased to 10 per person per day with a maximum boat limit of 20 flounder per day. Also look for Spanish mackerel, black sea bass, spadefish and weakfish, plus plenty of sharks, on the reefs. King mackerel action has been hit or miss this week on bottom spots such as Belky Bear, Myrtle Beach Rocks and The Jungle. Cherry Grove Pier reported a water temperature of 80 degrees Wednesday at 6 p.m.
Look For: Dolphin, blackfin tuna, wahoo, sailfish, vermilion snapper, triggerfish, white grunts, red porgy, black sea bass, grouper, amberjack.
Comments: Capt. Danny Carey of Careyon Charters reports excellent bottom fishing and good catches of king mackerel of late. “Bottom fishing is hot,” said Carey, who has produced vermilion snapper, triggerfish, grunts and porgy along with scamp and gag grouper. Carey is hitting bottom spots in 100-120 feet of water and has found kings 20-25 miles offshore in depths of 60-70 feet. Trolling is producing scattered catches of dolphin, blackfin tuna and wahoo, plus sailfish action is excellent in the Gulf Stream. Don’t be surprised to find dolphin or encounter a sailfish while fishing for kings on shallower spots. A few reminders – 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.
Look For: Bream, catfish, bass, crappie.
Comments: A rainy spell was followed by a dry spell and slightly cooler weather, resulting in superb summertime fishing on the Waccamaw and Little Pee Dee rivers. River levels are good, as the Waccamaw at Conway was at 7.93 feet at 4 p.m. Wednesday and making good tides while the Little Pee Dee at Galivants Ferry was at 4.93 feet at 5 p.m. Wednesday. “Bream are biting on crickets and worms on the Little Pee Dee and Waccamaw the most, from 8 inches to 3 feet (deep),” said Ronald ‘Catfish’ Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. “The big Pee Dee is still a little muddy.” Stalvey described bass action as “phenomenal” on the Little Pee Dee and Waccamaw with crawfish, senkos, buzz baits and Bang-O-Lures working well. Catfish are taking live and cut bait such as black salties and eels.