Grand Strand Fishing Report: A crew out of Marlin Quay Marina in 2018 displays a large king mackerel. The migratory king mackerel arrived in local waters this week. Photo courtesy of Marlin Quay Marina
King mackerel have arrived off the Myrtle Beach coast
By Gregg Holshouser
April 18, 2019 06:32 PM
Look For: Flounder, red drum, black drum, spotted seatrout, sheepshead, bluefish.
Comments: “It’s been the attack of the bluefish,” said Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions in Murrells Inlet. “The blues are just crazy. It doesn’t matter where you are, the creeks, the jetties or the reefs.” Spring flounder action is good with most fish under the 15-inch minimum size limit, as expected. “There are good numbers of flounder but just small,” said Connolly. “It’s a little early though, too.” On a Thursday trip, Connolly’s crew caught one 3-pounder out of 11 flounder using mud minnows on a Carolina rig. Connolly has also produced black drum on cut shrimp. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service has had to deal with very high tides and thus muddy conditions this week in the Winyah Bay area. Still, McDonald’s clients caught black drum on cut shrimp Wednesday. Then on Thursday, McDonald and crew found some spotted seatrout action on soft plastic grubs, namely Opening Night by Matrix. McDonald noted a water temperature of 67 degrees.
Look For: Black sea bass, sheepshead, black drum, flounder, weakfish, whiting.
Comments: A few weeks ago, it was Spanish mackerel invading near-shore waters off the Grand Strand from the south to hang out for the season. This week, the kings showed up. “They’re here,” said Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Fishing Charters. King mackerel have been caught in good numbers on typical bottom spots in 50-60 feet of water. “I started at Belky Bear (Thursday) and then went a little deeper (to 60 feet of water),” said Maples. The crew wound up with 12 kings in the 5-10 pound range plus caught Atlantic bonito while slow-trolling cigar minnows. The near-shore artificial reefs, such as Jim Caudle, Paradise and Ron McManus, have been hot spots this week, holding a combination of bluefish, Spanish and large weakfish. The numbers and size of the weakfish have been astonishing. “It’s looking like it’s going to be a heckuva year,” said Maples. The magic springtime water temperature of 65 degrees has been breached, and the fish have also shown up along the beach. Tony McElveen of Cherry Grove Pier reported a water temperature of 66 degrees Thursday afternoon and noted good catches this week of bluefish, Spanish, whiting and black drum. “They’ve been tearing it up since Tuesday,” said McElveen.
Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, dolphin, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grunts, porgy, amberjack.
Comments: Jeff Martini and crew aboard Dirty Martini had a super day offshore on Wednesday while fishing in the S.C. Wahoo Series, landing five wahoo, a 26-pound blackfin tuna and two king mackerel. With the big push of dolphin expected anytime, now is the time to get in some offshore trolling. “It’s red hot right now,” said Little River Capt. Danny Juel of Fish Screamer Charters and the Atlantic Star party boat. Juel reported a great catch aboard the Atlantic Star last Saturday, with plenty of vermilion snapper, triggerfish, black sea bass, white grunts, almaco jacks and a few red porgy. Juel said four red snapper were released along with about 15 grouper. Of course the annual shallow-water grouper spawning season closure ends on April 30, with recreational anglers once again able to harvest grouper starting on May 1.
Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.
Comments: The rivers remain high, but springtime fishing is good on local rivers, particularly the Intracoastal Waterway and Waccamaw. “It’s high as a Georgia pine,” Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle said of the river levels. “They need to drop and stay dropped. The Pee Dees have been flooded for seven months.” April is prime time for bream fishing on the rivers, and considering the current caterpillar hatch, it’s on. Find the caterpillars and find the fish, Stalvey says. “They’ve been catching some nice bream,” said Stalvey. “I’d recommend using crickets (on floats) in 2-4 feet. Find what they’re feeding on and they’re pretty much stacked up.” Stalvey says catfish action is very good. “They’ve been amazing on eels and bream – eels have been the best,” Stalvey said. The winner of the Bassmaster Elite event at Winyah Bay last weekend fished the lower Waccamaw, and Stalvey takes pride in that. “The (bass) are here,” said Stalvey, who recommends using buzz baits, Senko worms or Texas-style rigged worms.