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King Mackerel Action Hot

Bill Ellis of Georgetown shows off a red drum caught in Winyah Bay over Memorial Day weekend. By Gregg Holshouser
Grand Strand Fishing Report: King mackerel action hot in 12-20 mile range

By Gregg Holshouser

For The Sun News

May 31, 2018 11:01 PM

Updated 9 hours 51 minutes ago

Look For: Black drum, red drum, flounder, spotted seatrout, sheepshead, bluefish.

Comments: Memorial Day arrived with lots of rain, meaning there has been plenty of freshwater in local inlets and bays this week. “The last couple days have been a little slow, I guess due to the rain,” said Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters in Little River. “It seems like it was better before all this rain.” Kelly still has had success with red drum and black drum on ledges of the Intracoastal Waterway. Fresh cut shrimp is a prime bait for black drum while reds are hitting finger mullet or mud minnows on 1/4-ounce jig heads. Kelly notes a few flounder and spotted seatrout have also been caught, but bluefish are thick. “We’ve been pounding the bluefish,” said Kelly. “Those things seem to be pretty plentiful.” Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown had a solid outing on a quick two-hour trip Wednesday in the Winyah Bay vicinity. McDonald’s crew caught five black drum under the 14-27 inch slot and five red drum on cut shrimp and plastic grubs. McDonald notes a water temperature of 79 degrees on the trip. Also look for flounder and ladyfish in the bay.

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

Comments:On Sunday, Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters headed to the old standby, Belky Bear, to catch king mackerel. Fishing about 12 miles east of Murrells Inlet in 40-45 feet of water, Maples’ crew quickly found the kings were there, but they were small – under the 24-inch minimum size limit. Maples headed further offshore, to the 20-mile range and fished in depths of 50-55 feet. The kings were there, too. “There was a better quality fish out there, 28-29 inchers,” said Maples. “We caught a (three-person) limit, nine fish, within an hour. The bite was good.” Maples also reports there is plenty of action on near-shore reefs such as Paradise (three miles east of Murrells Inlet) and Jim Caudle (three miles south of Little River Inlet). Look for spadefish, black sea bass, flounder, weakfish and Spanish, plus be ready with a live bait in case a cobia approaches the boat. Ronnie Goodwin of Cherry Grove Pier reports whiting, croaker, spots, Spanish and bluefish have been caught this week, but no kings. Goodwin noted a water temperature of 81 degrees at the pier at 4:20 p.m. Thursday. Richard O’Leary of 14th Ave. Pier reports a few whiting and croaker have been caught this week, but sharks and rays are currently dominating the surf around the pier.


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

Comments: Trolling action offshore in areas such as the Black Jack Hole, Winyah Scarp and Georgetown Hole is good for dolphin, blackfin tuna and a few wahoo, but don’t be surprised to see a blue marlin, sailfish or white marlin show up in the spread. Bottom fishing is excellent for vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, porgy, grunts, grouper and amberjack. Scamp are the most common grouper species being caught. Red snapper cannot be harvested and must be released in the South Atlantic region.


Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.

Comments: There has been plenty of rain over the past several days, including a deluge on Memorial Day, and the rivers show it. The Waccamaw at Conway was up to 9.8 feet Thursday at 3:15 p.m. while the Little Pee Dee at Galivants Ferry was at 6.45 feet at 4 p.m. While the fish may be in the edge of the woods, still look for bream in 1-4 feet of water hitting crickets and worms. Catfish will hit a variety of baits including cut eel, cut mullet and live bream. With the water temperature near the 80-degree mark, bass action is best early and late in the day with Bang-O-Lures, buzz baits and Senkos working well.