Fishing report: Along with weather, action heating up on area waters
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
Look For: Flounder, red drum, spotted seatrout, black drum, bluefish, sheepshead.
Comments: Action for numerous species is heating up along with the water temperature in local estuaries. On the north end, Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Charters fishes the Little River vicinity and reports red drum are active, mainly slot fish in the 15-19 inch range. Kelly’s crews have been catching spotted seatrout, many under the 14-inch minimum size limit with a few keepers, plus flounder are making the scene. On Wednesday, bluefish were the hot species. “I found a pocket full of bluefish, we threw top-water plugs and caught blue after blue,” said Kelly. “There’s lot of action and plenty of fish to catch.” Kelly is using Berkeley Gulps and mud minnows on 1/4-ounce jig heads plus Vudu shrimp. “I don’t think the flounder are here thick yet,” said Kelly. “We’re starting to catch a few but it’s not like what you’re going to see in Cherry Grove or Murrells Inlet.” Speaking of Murrells Inlet, Jessica Perry of Perry’s Bait and Tackle reports flounder catches have been on the rise this week in numerous areas of the inlet. Catches of red drum have also been good, with Perry reporting limit catches of reds, which have a 15-23 inch slot limit and three-fish per person daily bag limit. Perry also notes trout and bluefish are available. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service noted a water temperature of 67-70 degrees in the Winyah Bay vicinity. On two trips early in the week, McDonald produced trout on plastic grubs and reds on cut shrimp under floats along grass banks.
Look For: Spanish mackerel, bluefish, weakfish, flounder, whiting, pompano, croaker, black drum, black sea bass.
Comments: After late March and the first several days of April offered windy, cool and just plain nasty weather, conditions have been fantastic this week. And that’s all it took for Spanish mackerel to make a strong showing from near the beach to the vicinity of near-shore reefs such as Paradise (three miles east of Murrells Inlet) and Jim Caudle (three miles south of Little River) among others. Weakfish are a nice side catch on the reefs, with black sea bass and flounder also on hand. Trolling Clark or Drone spoons, or mackerel trees on No. 1 planers has been producing fish. Anglers are also catching Spanish, and plenty of bluefish, from Grand Strand piers. Carsten Fischer of Apache Pier reports about one of every five Spanish caught have been keepers. Jigging straw rigs and casting Gotcha plugs have been producing both Spanish and blues. Bottom fishing from the piers is producing improved catches of whiting, croakers and a few flounder. No reports of pompano have come in, but look for them to arrive anytime if they haven’t already. The surface ocean water temperature was 69 degrees at Apache Pier and 71 degrees at Cherry Grove Pier Thursday, and 65 degrees on the bottom at both locations.
Look For: Dolphin, wahoo, blackfin tuna, sailfish, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, porgy, triggerfish, grunts, amberjack.
Comments: The wahoo and blackfin tuna action has been hot in the last few weeks, but when sea conditions turned nice early this week, offshore trolling crews found dolphin had arrived for the spring, along with a few early sailfish. In short, as April turns into May, trolling in areas such as the Winyah Scarp, Georgetown Hole and the Blackjack Hole will be the best of the calendar year. While dolphin have arrived, the big push is yet to come and will happen in the next few weeks. Monster wahoo, including some 100-pounders, have been included in the catches. Bottom fishing is also excellent with vermilion snapper, black sea bass and porgy the headliners. Also look for triggerfish, amberjack and grunts. The end of the annual Shallow-Water Grouper Spawning Season Closure is near, with anglers able to again harvest grouper on May 1. Red snapper cannot be harvested and must be released in the South Atlantic region.
Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.
Comments: It’s wide open,” said “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. “It’s hot, hot, hot.” Specifically, bream action is in the forefront with the improved and warming weather conditions of this week. “Some of the biggest bream I’ve seen in a long time have come by,” said Stalvey. “They’re hitting crickets and worms in 1-4 feet of water.” Catfish action is strong with fish hitting eels and shiners. “Bass are on the beds, but a lot of them have already spawned out,” said Stalvey, who recommended working top-water lures or Texas-Style Senkos. The rivers are falling after recent rains, with the Waccamaw the place to be, from Lee’s Landing to the Ricefields. “The Little Pee Dee is sky high, a foot below flood stage,” said Stalvey. “Both Pee Dees are on the fall but they’re still high, high, high. The Waccamaw is pretty high but it’s still (producing) good fish.”