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Grand Strand Fishing Report: Relentless rain hampering activity

The arrival of August means tarpon (pictured) are roaming local inlets and bays, particularly Winyah Bay and points farther south.
The arrival of August means tarpon (pictured) are roaming local inlets and bays, particularly Winyah Bay and points farther south.


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

Comments: More rain. Oh brother. Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions in Murrells Inlet has had some success catching red drum and flounder this week, but daily rains causing decreased water clarity have hampered catches. “The more it’s raining, the harder it is to catch them,” said Connolly. “It needs to quit. The areas where we usually have clean water, the fish are not used to (murky water).” Connolly has been using finger mullet, both live and cut, fished on Carolina rigs to target reds and flounder. “I’ve been trying to fish with some cut bait to get some smell in the water - that seems to be working better, but it’s not easy,” said Connolly. “They’ll hit it if they can find it.” Murrells Inlet received over 14 inches of rain for the month of July. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service took a late morning trip on Wednesday and his crew caught flounder, red drum and ladyfish in the Winyah Bay area. McDonald also was using finger mullet for bait, live and cut, under floats and on Carolina rigs. August has arrived which means so have tarpon in the estuaries along the South Carolina coast, including Winyah Bay. With huge amounts of freshwater flowing into the bay, McDonald doesn’t see that as a problem for the prized gamefish. “Freshwater doesn’t hurt tarpon,” said McDonald, who noted a water temperature of 82 degrees. “I haven’t seen any this morning (Wednesday), but they were thick for a while.” Georgetown received more than 16 inches of rain for the month of July.


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

Comments: It’s been a bad stretch of weather over the last two weeks for local charter fishing operators, or anybody wanting to get out into the ocean for some fishing. “It’s been horrendous, relentless,” Capt. Buddy Smith of Underdog in Murrells Inlet said at midweek. “If it’s not the rain, it’s the storms, if it’s not the storms, it’s the wind.” On Sunday, Smith ventured out to the 10-Mile Reef vicinity. “The water just looked horrible,” said Smith. “We caught some bottom fish but as far as trolling goes it was bad. I saw bait but we just couldn’t get bites. I’ve been telling my customers unless you want to go bottom fishing there’s not a lot going on.” Of course, conditions can quickly improve in a matter of a few days, and when they do, look for king mackerel to be found on live-bottom areas and ledges in 40-80 feet of water. The near-shore artificial reefs such as Jim Caudle Reef, Ron McManus Memorial Reef and Paradise Reef are holding spadefish, black sea bass and flounder, plus weakfish. Spanish mackerel, king mackerel and cobia can also be found in the vicinity of the reefs, along with plenty of sharks. Whiting and croaker are the best bet on Grand Strand piers.


Look For: Dolphin, blackfin tuna, wahoo, blue marlin, sailfish, barracuda, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grunts, porgy, amberjack, grouper.

Comments: Bottom fishing is currently the best bet in the offshore waters, particularly in depths of 80-120 feet. Vermilion snapper, red porgy and grey triggerfish are on hand in good numbers along with black sea bass, white grunts, amberjack and grouper. Scamp are the most common grouper showing up. Red snapper continue to be caught in good numbers but must be released in the South Atlantic region. However, the window of opportunity for recreational anglers is fast approaching. Starting next Friday, recreational anglers will be able to harvest red snapper for six days this month (Aug. 10-12, 17-19) with a limit of one per person per day with no size limit. After Aug. 19, the red snapper fishery will close once again. Trolling is often slow in the Dog Days of August, but king mackerel, dolphin, wahoo, blackfin tuna, barracuda, bonito along with sailfish are all a possibility on live-bottom areas and ledges in depths of 80 feet and deeper. “Before the rainy stretch, we were catching more dolphin in the Parking Lot area than last year,” said Smith.


Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.

Comments: The area has received beaucoup rain over the last few weeks. If you think anglers are staying off the rivers, thanks to almost daily downpours, you would be right. But, even with a rise in the rivers, fish are still being caught. “Not many people are going at all but the few that are going are catching nice fish,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. “It’s been quite surprising. Bream are still biting good, the bass and catfish. Some of those fish will move up into the lakes but fishing’s still good on the main river too.” The Waccamaw River near Conway was at 8.73 feet Wednesday at 10:15 a.m. and was forecast to remain steady at that level through Monday. Minor flood stage on the Waccamaw near Conway is 11.0 feet. The Little Pee Dee at Galivants Ferry was still relatively low Wednesday at 10 a.m., at 3.92 feet, but was expected to rise to 6 feet by Monday.