Grand Strand Fishing Report: Mackerel action torrid along the beach

By Gregg Holshouser

Look For: Red drum, flounder, black drum, spotted seatrout, sheepshead, Spanish mackerel, bluefish.

Comments: Area jetties are producing red drum, including some bull reds over 32 inches, black drum, flounder, sheepshead and spotted seatrout as October arrives, with Spanish mackerel roaming around, and the Winyah Bay vicinity has been producing some very good catches of trout. But the buzz has been about the continuation of summer-like conditions, with water temperatures still in the lower to mid 80s. “I’m ready for some cooler weather, ready for the pinfish to go bye-bye and ready to fish with live shrimp in the creeks,” said Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions. The first step is for a cold front to push through, and that is forecast to happen this weekend. “I think it’s just happening late, that’s all,” said Connolly. “By Halloween I think we’ll probably be to our normal fall fishing, where it will switch everything over to (catching) a lot of trout and more keeper flounder inside (the inlets), more schooled up red drum and black drum in the creeks.”

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

Comments: With finger mullet and menhaden heading southward along the beach, it’s been a mackerel bonanza within a mile of the beach this week. Starting with the piers, an astonishing 40 kings were caught from the Cherry Grove Pier from Sunday through Thursday afternoon including fish weighing 39-8, 36 and 34-12. In addition, John White landed a 30.85-pounder off Apache Pier. “I don’t see it like this very often,” said Steve Gann, general manager of the Cherry Grove Pier. Last Saturday, Trask Cunningham and girlfriend Ireland Mckeaige had a super trip just outside of Murrells Inlet just off the beach. The pair went running and gunning from school to school of menhaden, slow-trolling pogeys (menhaden) and bluefish around the schools of baitfish. They wound up catching a 34-pound king mackerel, a 31-pounder and six more kings weighing over 25 pounds. Connolly and his clients on Thursday stopped outside the same jetties, targeting Spanish mackerel, and could literally say they were jumping in the boat. Connolly started by free-lining a few finger mullet out for bait and tossed numerous finger mullet out, essentially live-chumming to attract the mackerel. One Spanish mackerel, a 2 1/2- to 3-pounder, chased one of the mullet, and both the baitfish and the predator cleared the water and landed in the boat. “They jumped right in the boat, no lie,” said Connolly. The Spanish hit one of the passengers in the arm, with the razor-sharp teeth causing superficial cuts. Connolly recalled saying, “We got one!” The crew wound up keeping seven Spanish in about the 18-22 inch range. Look for weakfish, bull reds and black sea bass on near-shore hard-bottom areas. The piers are also producing scattered catches of Spanish, blues, whiting, pompano, black drum, red drum, spotted seatrout, flounder and weakfish. No spot runs have been reported as of yet, not surprising considering the ocean water temperature at both piers was a summer-like 83 degrees on the surface Thursday afternoon.

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

Comments: Despite some very nice sea conditions at times during the past week, trolling has been hit or miss, or just plain slow, for boats heading offshore. Instead of a hot wahoo bite, trolling action has produced just a few wahoo, dolphin and tuna, along with summertime staples such as barracuda. A nice cold front to help usher in autumn is needed in the offshore waters, too. “That might get ‘em rolling,” said Bradley Hopkins, dock master of Georgetown Landing Marina. Bottom fishing can be depended on to produce most anytime, with vermilion snapper, black sea bass, grey triggerfish, red porgy, white grunts, amberjack and grouper all available. Red snapper can be found on bottom spots, most commonly in 90-120 feet of water, but must be released in the South Atlantic Region.

Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.

Comments: With hunting season and shrimp-baiting season on tap, to go with summer-like conditions, the number of anglers on the rivers has been at a minimum despite excellent river levels for fishing. “It’s been flat pitiful,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle said of the number of anglers. “Hopefully Saturday it will start cooling down and bring more action.” From the fishermen, and the fish, that is. The cold front should jump-start fall crappie action, with fish hitting minnows and jigs. Bream continue to hit both crickets and worms in 2-5 feet of water. Bass are hitting Texas-rigged worms and buzz baits. A variety of baits will produce catfish but eels are currently the best bet.

Our President since 1999, Gregg Holshouser, is an avid fisherman writing the weekly fishing report and outdoors column for The Sun News since 2004.  Gregg and his sister “Sam” invite you to visit Custom Outdoor Furniture to see how you, too, can Live Great Outdoors.  Click here for more information and to check out this week’s fishing report or find us on Facebook. #LiveGreatOutdoors