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Steady Catches Despite Heat

July 20, 2019 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Steady Catches Despite Heat

Courtesy of Jason Rosenberg
Grand Strand Fishing Report: Catches have been all around steady despite extreme heat

By Gregg Holshouser
July 19, 2019 04:53 PM

Estuary

Look For: Flounder, red drum, black drum, spotted seatrout, sheepshead, bluefish.

Comments: Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters has had a mixed bag of a week. “We’ve had some good trips and some struggling trips,” said Kelly, who has taken youngsters from his Palmetto Kids Fishing Camp out this week. Kelly has been fishing mainly around the Little River Inlet and produced red drum, spotted seatrout and flounder. The highlight of the week was a 5-pound trout that hit a live mullet. The best action, Kelly said, has been red drum hitting live or fresh cut finger mullet. Kelly noted a water temperature of 85 degrees Friday morning. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown is seeing fishing pick back up a bit after a slow stretch. “It’s been tough but it’s starting to open up pretty good,” said McDonald. While many of the fish have been on the smaller side, McDonald produced spotted seatrout, red drum, black drum, ladyfish and bluefish on a Wednesday trip in the Winyah Bay vicinity. McDonald noted a water temperature of 82 degrees in the bay.

Grand Strand Fishing Report: Catches have been all
around steady despite extreme heat
Inshore

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

Comments: Capt. Danny Juel of Fish Screamer Charters in Little River reports the excellent mid-range king mackerel action of this spring and summer continues. “The kings, right now you can catch all you want in 50-70 feet, 10-12 miles out,” said Juel. Areas adjacent to Little River Inlet such as The Jungle and 65-Foot Hole have been holding good numbers of fish. “There’s a lot of bait balls, a lot of fish in there,” said Juel. The near-shore bottom spots such as Paradise Reef and Pawleys out of Murrells Inlet and Jim Caudle and Ron McManus reefs out of Little River are holding black sea bass (13-inch minimum size limit), flounder, spadefish and weakfish, with Spanish and possibly kings and cobia roaming the vicinity. Juel reports Spanish action is very good 3-5 miles offshore in the Little River vicinity. It’s been a slow week overall from Grand Strand piers, with scattered catches of whiting, pompano, black drum, sheepshead and trout reported off the Apache and Cherry Grove piers. However, pier angler extraordinaire Joe Nelligan of Garden City has landed some nice Spanish off The Pier at Garden City this week, including one weighing in at 4 pounds, 11 ounces. The ocean water temperature according to the Apache Pier data station Friday at 11:30 a.m. was 83 degrees on the surface and 82 on the bottom.
Offshore

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

Comments: The first weekend of the 2019 red snapper mini-season is in the books, and plenty were brought to the docks as recreational anglers were able to harvest one red snapper per person per day with no minimum size limit. Like most other area boats, Capt. Juel’s Fish Screamer III sat out last Friday due to rough seas but fished Saturday and Sunday out of Little River. “(Fish Screamer III) limited out on red snapper,” said Juel. “They were real nice fish, anywhere from 18-25 pounds.” Two party boats, Juel’s Atlantic Star and the New Inlet Princess out of Murrells Inlet, also had solid catches of red snapper along with typical reef species last Saturday and Sunday. The red snapper mini-season continues Friday and Saturday, but after midnight Saturday the species will be off-limits until the next mini-season, likely in 2020. Juel reported trolling is decent, but well offshore. “We’re still picking away at scattered (dolphin), wahoo and blackfin (tuna),” said Juel. “We’re having to fish a little deep, anywhere from 400 to 600 feet, looking for good purple-blue water that’s been pushed offshore.”
Freshwater

Look For: Bream, crappie, catfish, bass.

Comments: “Fishing in general, even though it’s been hot as the dickens, seems to be better and better for the people that are going and toughing it out in the heat,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. “Normally right now (this time of year) it’s good but not that good.” Bream fishing in particular has been very good. “It’s taking people an average of two hours to get their limit of bream, I’m talking nice, nice bream,” said Stalvey. “The Little Pee Dee and big Pee Dee have the best quality of bream. They’re catching them around mouths of creeks 2-4 feet deep on crickets.” Stalvey is also surprised at the quality of bass action in the heat of summer. “The bass are still good on topwater, but more on Zoom trick worms and Texas-rigged worms,” said Stalvey. “Any kind of u-tail worm, Senko or craw in deep curves and ditch mouths. If you’re fishing shallower, use the Zoom trick worm, let it sink, twitch it and hang on tight.” Stalvey said catfish action is good on live bream and cut eels.

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

Red Snapper Mini Season Starts

July 13, 2019 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Red Snapper Mini Season Starts

Photo Courtesy Dr. Jason Rosenberg

Here’s how it’s looking as red snapper mini-season gets underway along Grand Strand

By Gregg Holshouser
July 12, 2019

The 2019 red snapper mini-season arrived on Friday in federal waters of the South Atlantic, but so did a stiff southwesterly wind, at least in the Carolinas.

If Capt. Robert Strickland wasn’t willing to get offshore to the ledges that hold red snapper aboard the 80-foot party boat New Inlet Princess out of Crazy Sister Marina in Murrells Inlet with 80 anglers ready to go, you can bet it was rough.

When Strickland checked conditions Friday morning, the wind was blowing at 21 knots and gusting to 25 out of the southwest with 5 foot seas.

Strickland hopes to get out Saturday and Sunday, the next two days of the mini-season, and then again next Friday and Saturday (July 19-20).

“That’s part of the game,” said Strickland. “Saturday looks iffy, Sunday looks doable. If it’s not blowing at 20, we’re going to get it in.”

In 2009, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) determined the South Atlantic red snapper stock was overfished and undergoing overfishing, and the fishery was closed in 2010 with a 35-year rebuilding plan put in place.

Over the last nine years, there have been sporadic mini-seasons, including consecutive seasons from 2017-2019, but largely the species has been closed to harvest for recreational anglers since 2010.

A year ago, Strickland was able to fish all six days of the mini-season, which was set in August, and his customers landed plenty of red snapper including 85-90 on two of the trips.

Anglers are able to harvest one red snapper per person with no minimum size limit during the season, but have to release the species throughout the rest of the year.

If he can get out there, Strickland is confident he will have good success this time around, too.

“It seems like we’ve been releasing more fish than in previous years,” said Strickland.

Hard-bottom areas and ledges are holding red snapper, along with a host of other reef species such as grouper, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, grey triggerfish, porgy, grunts and amberjack.

The question is, how far do boats have to go to find red snapper?

“In shallow, we’ve found a few in 60 feet, but it’s not consistent back in there,” said Strickland. “We’re mostly finding them in 75-110 feet.”

Anglers and boat captains are encouraged to report their catches during the red snapper mini-season at www.myfishcount.com and cooperate with fishery biologists they may encounter dockside after the fishing trip.
SAFMC Red Snapper Tips

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council offers these tips for anglers targeting red snapper:

Avoid areas likely to have red snapper if you already have met your recreational bag limit. If you are approaching your commercial vessel limit, move to a different area.
When red snapper are out of season, avoid areas where they are common.
Use single hook rigs since the recreational bag limit for red snapper during the proposed limited fishing seasons will be one per person per day. This will potentially reduce the number of red snapper that are caught on one drop.
Use non-offset circle hooks while fishing in areas where red snapper are common.
Use a dehooking device to remove the hook. Keep fish in the water if you plan to release them or return them to the water as quickly as possible.
Use descending devices when releasing fish with signs of barotrauma.

Bassmaster Junior Championship

A pair of Conway Middle School anglers are headed to Huntingdon, Tenn., in August to compete in the Bassmaster Junior Championship on Carroll County Lake.

On April 6, then-sixth graders Cody Wilder and Dalton Williams finished second in the South Carolina middle school championship on Lake Murray with a five-bass limit of 13.69 pounds including a 4.64-pound lunker.

That lofty finish qualified the duo for the junior national championship, set for August 6-7 on Carroll County 1000 Acre Recreational Lake.

Fifty teams, for student anglers from age 7-13, are expected in the tournament, with an adult serving as captain and navigating the boat for each two-man team.


Cody Wilder and Dalton Williams, a pair of Conway Middle School anglers, are headed to Huntingdon, Tenn., in August to compete in the Bassmaster Junior Championship on Carroll County Lake. Submitted photo

Cody Wilder’s dad, David Wilder, will serve as captain for the duo that will represent Conway in the tournament.

“They’re very excited,” said David Wilder. “Every day these guys are practicing and talking about the tournament. To have the chance to do it as sixth graders is pretty impressive.”

The threesome plans to pre-fish before the tournament, and will be in the Huntingdon area for about six days, an expensive venture.

The local fishing community is helping to offset the expenses of the trip. A Facebook page has been established to raise funds for the trip. See David Wilder’s Facebook page for details on the fund-raiser.

If it has to do with fishing on the Grand Strand, you can bet the crazy crew of the Southern Anglers Radio Show are involved. That group is selling boiled peanuts at Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway, Baisch Brothers Bait and Tackle in Murrells Inlet and at Murrells Inlet Fishing Center to help fund the trip.
IFA Redfish Tour

The Atlantic Division of the tour returns to the Carroll Campbell Marine Complex in Georgetown next weekend (July 20-21) with a top prize of more than $25,000 going to the two-man team that weighs in the heaviest two-fish red drum bag limit.

The IFA Redfish Tour launches from the facility on the Sampit River at dawn on July 20. Weigh-in is set for 2:30 p.m. Both the launch and weigh-in are open to spectators, and is free of charge.

The IFA Kayak Tour is scheduled for the following day, July 21, in Georgetown.

Registration and a Captain’s Dinner will take place at the Campbell complex July 19 from 5-7 p.m. For more information, visit www.IFATours.com.
Bobby Clarke Reel Kids Tournament

The 18th Annual Bobby Clarke Memorial Reel Kids, Reel Fun Tournament will be held July 27 at Georgetown Landing Marina.

For more information, call the marina at 843-546-1776.

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

Dog Days of Summer Arrive

July 12, 2019 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Dog Days of Summer Arrive

Angler Homer Carder with a 6.5-pound flounder caught recently from Apache Pier. Photo courtesy of Apache Pier

Grand Strand Fishing Report: The dog days of summer have arrived early

By Gregg Holshouser
July 11, 2019

Estuary

Look For: Flounder, red drum, black drum, spotted seatrout, sheepshead, bluefish.

Comments: They call it fishing, not catching, and it hasn’t been the best of times for catching over the last week, says Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions in Murrells Inlet. “We’ve had some good days and some slow days,” said Connolly. “I’ve just been grinding it out. Ever since we had the rain starting on and off and the boat traffic around July Fourth, it’s been really tough. Think about how many boats we’ve had run through Murrells Inlet in the last week. It’s been very inconsistent. We caught a lot more nice flounder before the rain.” For bait, Connolly has used live finger mullet, the largest he can find, and roe mullet for cut bait, targeting red drum and flounder using a Carolina rig and slip float rig. “I’ve used the Carolina rig for flounder and reds, and I’ve caught a few reds on the slip float with live mullet, plus a few flounder on that if you’ve got the depth set right, about a foot off the bottom,” said Connolly.
Inshore

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

Comments: At 4:30 p.m. Thursday, the wind was blowing 24 mph from the southwest according to the Apache Pier data station, with a surface water temperature of a balmy 85 degrees and 84 on the bottom. Those are conditions indicative of the Dog Days of Summer, it indeed appears they have come early. Capt. Perrin Wood of Southern Saltwater was surprised just how slow the action was Wednesday when he hit a favorite red and black drum spot at the Murrells Inlet jetties. “I had five lines out with cut menhaden and dead shrimp, and a few live menhaden and mullet to keep a good balance of baits,” said Wood. “We didn’t get the first fish to hit any of them.” Wood also notes action of Spanish mackerel and king mackerel has been slow from the beach to near-shore artificial reefs and on out to the typical hard-bottom areas 10-15 miles offshore. “I feel like the dog days are more August than July but at this point . . . ,” Wood said. “There’s a lot of bait, menhaden, mullet, I just think the fish don’t have a lot of energy. Between the bait, the water temperature and all these storm fronts, it’s caused some issues.” Fishing is decent on Grand Strand piers with Apache Pier and Cherry Grove Pier reporting scattered catches of a variety of species including pompano, whiting, black drum, spadefish, sheepshead, blues, Spanish, ladyfish and ribbonfish, but no kings this week.
Offshore

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

Comments: Find the blue water well offshore of the break, and you’ll find the fish. Trolling boats can look for dolphin, blackfin tuna and a few wahoo along with marlin and sailfish. On bottom spots and ledges in depths of about 80-120 feet, trolling will produce scattered catches of dolphin, king mackerel, wahoo, blackfin tuna, barracuda and bonito, with sailfish a possibility. Friday marks the beginning of the 2019 red snapper mini-season, with NOAA Fisheries offering a five-day season this year for recreational anglers to harvest red snapper, with the species shut down the rest of the year. This weekend (Friday through Sunday) and next weekend (Friday and Saturday only), recreational anglers will be able to harvest one red snapper per person per day with no minimum size limit. The captain and crew on for-hire vessels may retain the recreational bag limit. Red snapper have occasionally been caught as shallow as depths of about 55 feet, but to really find them plan on heading to spots in 90 feet of water and deeper. Bottom, or reef, fishing is also producing good catches of grouper, especially scamp, amberjack, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, grey triggerfish, red porgy, white grunts.
Freshwater

Look For: Bream, crappie, catfish, bass.

Comments: “Fishing’s been good even through all this crazy weather,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. “The water’s come up a bit with the rain, but we’ve still got good water levels. The Little Pee Dee has come up a little bit, the big Pee Dee at Florence and the Waccamaw are looking good. Even though we’ve had some rain the river levels are amazing.” Stalvey notes this week has been a good one for using beetle spins to catch a number of species. “They’ve been catching nice fish, a variety of fish, off beetle spins – bream, crappie and bass,” said Stalvey. Bream are also being landed shallow and deep on red worms, nightcrawlers and crickets. “There’s plenty of decent-size, good-eating size catfish in the 5-15 pound range (being caught),” said Stalvey, who recommends using fresh cut eels, live bream or black salty for bait. “A lot of blues and some flatheads.”

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

 
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