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Rivers out of flood stage

Ronald Stalvey III of Conway shows off a 30-pound dolphin caught near The Steeples on a fishing trip Wednesday, May 8, 2019. Submitted photo
Grand Strand Fishing Report: Area rivers out of flood stage for the first time in awhile

By Gregg Holshouser
May 09, 2019 06:10 PM


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

Comments: “The blues have moved in and taken over,” said Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown after fishing the Winyah Bay vicinity. “It’s bluefish city,” said Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions in Murrells Inlet. “Bluefish are everywhere,” said Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters. From north to south, the blues have set in, hitting shrimp, mud minnows and even plastic grubs to put a damper on efforts to catch flounder, spotted seatrout, red drum and black drum. McDonald has had some success catching trout, including 15 small ones on a Tuesday trip and six with three keepers on Thursday. Kelly has landed reds from pot holes in shallow creeks on a falling tide, and notes improved flounder action in Little River. Connolly has had decent success in Murrells Inlet with flounder, black drum and reds, including a group of slot-sized reds at mid-week. Also look for Spanish mackerel trailing schools of glass minnows inside the inlets and bays. The water temperature has ranged from the mid-70s to the upper-70s depending on the time of day and tide.

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

Comments: Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters observed a 73-degree water temperature Thursday at Paradise Reef, three miles east of Murrells Inlet, and then about 9 miles farther was in 71-degree water at Belky Bear. “That was really surprising,” said Maples. At the live-bottom Belky Bear vicinity, Maples continued to have excellent success with king mackerel in the 26/27-inch range, slow-trolling cigar minnows on jig heads. “It’s just crazy out there,” said Maples. “We fished 1 1/2 hours and caught a dozen kings.” With the bite of Spanish mackerel and kings still hot, few anglers have targeted spadefish on the near-shore artificial reefs. But, as Maples said, “they’re here.” Also look for weakfish, bluefish, Spanish, flounder, black sea bass and possibly kings and cobia at the reefs. The Cherry Grove Pier continues to be the spot for kings from shore. Four kings have been caught since last Friday off the pier including a 36.5-pounder landed by angler David Perryman. Michael Wallace reports Spanish, blues, pompano and whiting have also been caught off the pier. Skyler Parks of Apache Pier reports some limits of whiting have been caught off the pier this week along with Spanish, blues and pompano. Parks reported a water temperature of 76 degrees Thursday afternoon.

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

Comments: Dolphin action has slowed a bit from a week ago, but action is still very good. Trolling boats are also producing wahoo and blackfin tuna. Surprisingly, the field of boats in the opening day of the South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series had no luck with billfish. Eight of the 33 boats entered in the Bohicket Invitational Billfish Tournament chose to fish Thursday but no billfish were released or landed. On Wednesday, Trey Jordan, Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey and crew headed out on Jordan’s Sea Pro for some meat-fishing and headed a little to the north, targeting The Steeples area. The crew landed seven dolphin ranging from 9 to 30 pounds and one wahoo. The 30-pound dolphin went on a rampage across the trolling spread, eating a pair of baits along the way. Stalvey noted lots of scattered grass, or sargassum, in the area while fishing in depths of 130-200 feet with a water temperature of 77-78 degrees. “We caught more grass than anything,” said Stalvey. “I think we would have caught more fish if it hadn’t been for all the grass.” Bottom fishing is excellent for grouper, amberjack, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, porgy and grunts. Scamp have been the most common grouper landed.

Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.

Comments: Well, what do you know, all area rivers are out of flood stage, possibly for the first time since just after Hurricane Florence last September, and the Waccamaw River at Conway is even making good tides. Bream fishing is simply excellent, Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway reports. “Bream are being caught everywhere, in 2-4 feet on crickets,” said Stalvey. “They’re catching a bunch on worms but crickets are the best.” Conway, Bucksport and the Ricefields on the Waccamaw have been productive along with the Great Pee Dee and Little Pee Dee rivers. Catfish are hitting eels, cut shad and cut mullet while topwater is working well for bass including buzz baits, Bang-O-Lures and poppers.

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