Grand Strand Fishing Report: Spring flounder, Spanish mackerel arriving in local waters
By Gregg Holshouser
April 12, 2019 12:37 AM
Look For: Flounder, red drum, black drum, spotted seatrout, bluefish, sheepshead.
Comments: Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters in Little River has worked the Intracoastal Waterway and the tidal creeks to catch red drum on fresh cut shrimp and live mud minnows this week, but a few days the wind has been a real challenge. “On windy days we’ve been hunkering down on docks fishing the pilings for reds and black drum using cut mullet, crab or fresh (cut) shrimp,” said Kelly. “There are still loads of small trout with a few keepers.” Kelly has used Vudu or Berkley Gulp shrimp to catch the trout. Flounder have shown up a bit in the Little River vicinity, but Kelly points to one estuary in particular to catch the flatfish. “We’ve caught a couple flounder here and there but we’re always late to catch them (in Little River Inlet). You could probably go into Cherry Grove (Inlet) right now and unload on them.” Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions has targeted flounder in Murrells Inlet, with success. Connolly has floated mud minnows to catch decent numbers of flounder and a few trout in the creeks of the inlet. On Thursday, Connolly produced two keeper trout in the 17-inch range, one keeper flounder (15 inches minimum size) and “a good handful” of bluefish in the 18-19 inch range. “The trout bite is starting to slow down – the fish are starting to spread out,” said Connolly.
Look For: Spanish mackerel, bluefish, weakfish
Comments: There had been a few flashes of Spanish mackerel showing up in local waters over the last few weeks, but early this week they arrived up in full force. On Tuesday, several guides out of Murrells Inlet set up shop on Paradise Reef and had a ball catching nice-size Spanish. “We were all catching them,” said Connolly, of O-Fish-Al Expeditions. “It didn’t matter what you were doing, trolling a tree rig on a No. 1 planer or throwing a jigfish, they were all working.” Connolly’s fish measured from 14-20 inches. “They were decent, all keepers,” said Connolly, who used Big Nic Fishing’s Spanish Candy jig. Plenty of sizable bluefish are hanging out with the Spanish mackerel. Connolly also set up over the structure of the reef and vertical jigged to produce nice weakfish, some to three pounds. Kelly of Capt. Smiley Fishing Charters also has had good success with big weakfish and bluefish on near-shore reefs off Little River Inlet. “The weakfish are real nice and lots of them,” said Kelly. “You can get a lot of action out there.” Action is also heating up in the surf zone and from Grand Strand piers. Pier anglers can look for Spanish, bluefish, whiting, croaker, plus the much-anticipated pompano have made the scene.
Look For: Dolphin, wahoo, blackfin tuna, king mackerel, bonito, black sea bass, grey triggerfish, vermilion snapper, red porgy, white grunts, amberjack.
Comments: Capt. Danny Carey of Carey-On Charters headed offshore Sunday to compete in the South Carolina Wahoo Series, and wound up fishing in the vicinity of the Georgetown Hole. “We didn’t have much luck with the wahoo,” said Carey. But what Carey and crew did find bodes well for the upcoming weeks in April and May. The crew worked a broken weed line and found dolphin ready to bite. “We caught a lot of fish and threw a lot of small peanuts back,” said Carey. “We wound up keeping a dozen.” Trolling action has also been good for blackfin tuna and wahoo, so offshore Carolina Slams are available along the break and the Gulf Stream. Gusty winds this week have kept boats in port for the most part, but fishing should be prime when conditions calm back down. “Once we get back out there again, we’ll do alright,” said Carey. Bottom fishing is excellent for black sea bass, grey triggerfish, vermilion snapper, red porgy, white grunts and amberjack. Closures of reef species currently in effect for recreational anglers in South Atlantic waters include the annual shallow-water grouper spawning season closure, plus deep water blueline tilefish and snowy grouper until May 1. Red snapper are also off limits indefinitely and must be released.
Look For: Bream, bass, catfish.
Comments: The focus this week has been in Georgetown for the Bassmaster Elite Tournament out of the Carroll Campbell Marine Complex, but there is plenty of other good action available. Warm weather has arrived over the past week, causing a rapid rise in water temperature and the bream have moved closer to the banks. Fishing crickets under floats in 2-5 feet of water will produce fish. Plenty of nice catfish are available with a variety of baits including cut shad, cut mullet, live bream and nightcrawlers all working well. Bass continue to be in bedding mode with spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, Senkos or craw-type baits all working.