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Prime time to troll

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Captain Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service hooks into a shark in North Inlet. JASON LEE jlee@thesunnews
Outdoors
May 04, 2017 7:03 PM
Fishing report: May’s arrival marks prime time for offshore trolling action
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

Estuary
Look For: Flounder, spotted seatrout, red drum, black drum, bluefish.
Comments: In the middle of a Thursday trip, Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters in Little River had already produced six flounder and six trout, including a pair breeders in the 4-to-6-pound range that were released. “The tide turned (to rising) and w’’ve been catching them pretty good,” said Kelly, who used shrimp on popping corks and Vudu shrimp to catch the trout and mud minnows for the flounder. Kelly also notes red drum are holding on structure such as docks on the Intracoastal Waterway in the Little River area, plus black drum are hitting fresh shrimp on the Tilghman’s Point area. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service noted a water temperature in the mid 70s on a recent trip in the Winyah Bay vicinity. “Those water temperatures shouldn’t be there until the third week of May,” said McDonald, who produced trout, bluefish and whiting on the trip.
Inshore
Look For: King mackerel, Spanish mackerel, cobia, spadefish, black sea bass, whiting, bluefish, flounder, pompano, croaker.

Comments: Windy weather has produced murky water along the beach, which has hampered catches from Grand Strand piers this week. “The mud line is halfway out the pier,” said Michael Wallace of Cherry Grove Pier, who noted a water temperature of 71 degrees Thursday morning. “The water’s been stained all week,” said Carsten Fischer of Apache Pier. “They’ve been catching whiting, and every once in a while a blue, Spanish or flounder.” By boat, find clear water and bait, and you’ll find Spanish mackerel and the occasional king from just off the beach to about four miles offshore. On the near-shore reefs, look for black sea bass (13-inch minimum size limit), spadefish, weakfish and flounder. Spanish and king mackerel are roaming around the reefs, and be ready for a cobia to show up around the boat. All cobia must be released in South Carolina waters in 2017. Kings are on hand on bottom spots, particularly from 12 to 20 miles offshore.

Offshore
Look For: Dolphin, wahoo, blackfin tuna, grouper, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, amberjack, triggerfish, porgy, grunts.
Comments: Relatively tranquil winds and sea conditions are required for boats to get offshore to the ledges of the Continental Shelf, and May is a prime month to catch three major pelagic species — dolphin, wahoo and blackfin tuna – plus billfish. The wind and seas haven’t cooperated much this week, but catches have been very good when boats have made it to areas such as the Blackjack Hole, Winyah Scarp and Georgetown Hole. Of course, excellent bottom fishing is available too, and May means the end of the four-month grouper spawning season closure. Wednesday provided a good weather day, and Jeff Martini’s crew out of Little River landed seven dolphin while trolling. They then went deep-dropping and caught several snowy grouper including a 40-pounder. The crew of the Painkiller out of Murrells Inlet made a quick Wednesday afternoon run out to the ledges and landed a couple of dolphin before switching to bottom-fishing. The crew landed a scamp, a tilefish and a few amberjack to go with vermilion snapper and triggerfish on the short trip.
Freshwater
Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.
Comments: “I’ve just seen pretty mess of bream after pretty mess of bream,” said Ronald ‘Catfish’ Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. “It’s quite phenomenal. They’re just smoking them on crickets in 2-to-4 feet of water.” Stalvey has personally had good success catching bass on the Waccamaw and Intracoastal Waterway between Conway and Bucksport using trick worms and spinnerbaits. Stalvey also reports good catfish action with fish hitting bream and eels. The water levels of both Pee Dee rivers is high, but the Waccamaw is just a little high and very fishable. “The Waccamaw is good, it’s higher than normal, but I’ve been seeing prettier fish than when it was lower,” said Stalvey.