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Weather and fishing heats up


The Pier at Garden City and the Cherry Grove Pier report Spanish mackerel (pictured) have been caught this week by jiggers. Jason Lee jlee@thesunnews.com
Outdoors
Fishing on the Grand Strand is heating up with warmer weather

By Gregg Holshouser

For The Sun News

April 26, 2018 06:50 PM

Updated April 26, 2018 06:50 PM
Estuary

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

Comments: Flounder catches have picked up nicely over the last week, with most fish still under the 15-inch minimum size limit. Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway reports the number of keepers in Murrells Inlet has increased a bit, with mud minnows fished on a jig head, Carolina rig or float rig all working. Capt. Patrick Kelly of Capt. Smiley Fishing Charters has also found good numbers of flounder in the Little River vicinity but keepers have been scarce. Kelly has also used live mud minnows, but reports he has had his best luck for flounder jigging with Berkeley Gulp swimming minnows. Kelly has also caught small trout, black drum and red drum, but did catch and release one 27-inch red. Kelly caught the flounder and trout on a falling tide in the ICW and targeted the drum in shallow creeks on an incoming tide using fresh cut shrimp. Kelly noted a water temperature from 62-65 degrees on a Thursday trip.

Inshore

Look For: Bluefish, Spanish mackerel, black sea bass, weakfish, flounder, whiting, croaker, pompano.

Comments: The weather, or the wind, has finally stabilized a bit, and anglers have found that Spanish mackerel and bluefish are showing up in good numbers around near-shore artificial reefs such as Paradise Reef (three miles east of Murrells Inlet) and Jim Caudle Reef (three miles south of Little River). Trolling Clark or Drone spoons on No. 1 planers has produced Spanish, plus slow-trolling live bait (if available) will produce fish too. Also look for weakfish, black sea bass and flounder on the structure of the reefs. Spanish have made it to the beach too, as both The Pier at Garden City and the Cherry Grove Pier report they have been caught this week by jiggers, along with bluefish. Plenty of smallish whiting and croaker have also been caught. Pompano should show up at any time, if they aren’t already here. The ocean water temperature was at 63 degrees on the bottom at Cherry Grove Pier at 6 p.m. Thursday, and on a warming trend.

Offshore

Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, dolphin, grouper, vermilion snapper, triggerfish, porgy, black sea bass, grunts.

Comments: The wind appears to have calmed down a bit compared to the last, well, month or two, and that’s good news for boats that want to get in some offshore trolling to land a Carolina Slam of wahoo, dolphin and tuna. Ocean Isle Fishing Center reports that more than a few yellowfin tuna have shown up on the north end of the offshore trolling grounds, from the Blackjack Hole to the Steeples, a fantastic development indeed. There have been occasional good catches of blackfin tuna. The wahoo bite has been the most consistent, and there have been reports of decent catches of dolphin to the south. Specifically, Capt. Buddy Smith of Underdog in Murrells Inlet reports a few Charleston boats landed several dolphin per trip over the past week. With a decent marine forecast in store for Saturday, look for some great catches in the Georgetown Meatfish Slam out of Georgetown Landing Marina. Bottom fishing is producing plenty of vermilion snapper, along with black sea bass, amberjack, grey triggerfish, white grunts and red porgy. The annual Shallow-Water Grouper Spawning Season Closure is in effect through April 30, meaning grouper can again be harvested when May arrives on Tuesday. Red snapper are closed indefinitely in the South Atlantic region and must be released.

Freshwater

Look For: Bream, bass, crappie, catfish.

Comments: “The fishing’s hot, the weather’s nice, it just lines up like an arrow,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. Bream fishing is super with fish hitting crickets or worms equally well in 3-4 feet of water. It’s prime time to target, and hopefully release, bedding bass on local rivers. “They’re in that stage now, where they’re catching a few on the beds, seeing a few on the beds,” said Stalvey. “In the next few days you’ll see a lot of bass in the calm-water areas, anywhere they feel safe at. The top-water action is getting pretty heated.” Stalvey suggests throwing buzz baits or Bang-O-Lures for top-water and wacky-rigged Senkos deep. Stalvey notes catfish action continues to be very good, with fish hitting shad or fresh cut eels.