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King Mackerel Action Great

Weakfish, also known as summer trout, have arrived for the autumn on near-shore bottom spots along the Grand Strand. Gregg Holshouser For The Sun News
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Saltwater fishing decent but rivers have “dead fish floating” and “smell like sewer”

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

October 04, 2018 06:07 PM

Estuary

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

Comments: The water in local estuaries such as Little River and Murrells Inlet continues to look akin to a blackwater river, but the fish don’t care – it’s October. Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Inshore Charters in Little River has had good success with red drum in the 15 to 28 inch range on fresh cut or live finger mullet along grass banks in the Little River vicinity. Kelly got a surprise on a recent trip when he even found bull reds roaming the grass banks in two feet of water, catching a 44-incher on cut bait and a 37-inch specimen on a top-water plug. “It may have been a freak thing, but they were in two feet of water,” said Kelly. “That’s the largest red I’ve ever caught on a top-water plug.” On some days, Kelly’s crew has had good success with spotted seatrout on top-water lures. Flounder have been a little scarce. “We’ve caught a few flounder here and there,” said Kelly. “It seems like the flounder bite was better before the storm.” The water in the Little River vicinity remains far from normal, thanks to continued flood waters inundating the area. “It’s got a swampy smell, it didn’t smell like normal salt marsh,” said Kelly. “The water’s really black.” At the Little River inlet and jetties, the bull red bite is on, as it is at Murrells Inlet and Winyah Bay. Kelly uses larger mullet in the 5 to 8 inch range, cut or live, fished on the bottom for the bull reds, which are over the slot limit of 15 to 23 inches and must be released, carefully. Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions in Murrells Inlet has had a busy week targeting red drum in the inlet. “We’ve caught a whole lot of redfish, of all sizes, under slot and over, some to 28-32 inches,” said Connolly, who noted a water temperature ranging from 77 to 81 degrees. Connolly has used finger mullet in the 5 to 8 inch range, occasionally using them as cut bait. “Do not be afraid to go big on the bait,” said Connolly. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown had a superb day Thursday in the Winyah Bay vicinity. McDonald’s crew caught a few red drum, but landed numerous black drum including a limit of keepers in the 16-17 inch range.

Inshore

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

Comments: The incredible king mackerel action off Grand Strand piers continued this week despite dark, dirty flood water prevailing along the beach. Over an 11-day stretch through Wednesday, anglers had landed 29 king mackerel from the Apache Pier in Myrtle Beach, including two on Wednesday. Last Saturday, angler Dave Tompkins caught a true smoker king – a 42.9-pounder. The Cherry Grove Pier produced three kings on Thursday, including a 26-pounder. Fishing has also been good for several other species, including bull red drum, black drum, whiting, pompano, flounder, sheepshead, Spanish mackerel and bluefish. Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty had a crew that wanted to target king mackerel at midweek, and the captain headed to the staple king spot – Belky Bear located about 12 miles east of Murrells Inlet. “The water was still the same color as the beach, and the only bites came on the downrigger,” said Maples. The crew caught only small “snake” kings below the 24-inch minimum size before Maples headed further offshore, to a spot 18-miles offshore in 50-55 feet of water. “There was nothing there, not even a sniff of a bite,” said Maples, who noted a water temperature of 79 degrees. Maples has had success on hard-bottom areas close to the beach, catching bull reds and weakfish.

Offshore

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

Comments: The floodwater isn’t limited to just areas along the beach. Dave Christian of Marlin Quay Marina reports the dark, dingy water extends to at least 30 miles offshore. “The dark water goes really far out,” said Christian. “It takes a while to find the blue water. But there are a few wahoo being caught at the break.” Christian noted one boat landed four wahoo on a Monday trip. Bottom fishing is producing the usual catch of grouper, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, grey triggerfish, amberjack, red porgy and white grunts. Red snapper must be released indefinitely in the South Atlantic Region.

Freshwater

Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.

Comments: “All the rivers have got dead fish floating in them, and they smell like sewer,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle. “There’s nothing going on but on the saltwater.” Obviously anglers and unnecessary boaters should stay off the rivers as the flood waters continue to recede. Any boaters that must be on the rivers or the Intracoastal Waterway should beware of floating debris and above all else navigate at idle speed, especially around residences and structures. Wakes can easily cause further, unnecessary damage to the properties. The Waccamaw River at Conway was at 16.19 feet at 3:15 p.m. Thursday, and was forecast to fall into moderate flood stage early next week.