Look For: Flounder, red drum, spotted seatrout, black drum, bluefish, sheepshead.
Comments: It’s been a windy, wet week but conditions were improving heading into the weekend. With the water temperature in the lower 70s in local estuaries and warmer weather on the way, look for action to only improve for flounder and red drum, along with spotted seatrout and black drum. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service had a solid, quick trip at mid-week in the Winyah Bay vicinity, as he and his partner caught 18 trout all on artificial grubs. McDonald said the trout ranged from 12 inches to 3 pounds, but 15 measured at or above the minimum size limit of 14 inches, and the duo kept seven for dinner. McDonald noted a water temperature of 71 degrees and said bull sharks have already made the scene. On a recent trip, a fishing partner of McDonald’s caught a trout only to have a bull shark cut it off just behind the head at boatside. Tripp Sims of Perry’s Bait and Tackle says flounder catches have been generally slow with some exceptions this week in the inlet, but there are plenty of fish to be caught as the calendar turns to May. Sims says red drum action has been picking up with fish hitting blue crab chunks. Black drum are hitting shrimp or crab.
Look For: King mackerel, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, whiting, croaker, pompano, flounder, weakfish, black sea bass.
Comments: King mackerel made a strong showing a week ago with catches coming in from the Cherry Grove Pier and good numbers landed on bottom spots 10-15 miles offshore. This week? Not so much, thanks to a deluge of rain and windy weather resulting in murky water along the beach. “It’s been whatever the weather will give you,” said Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters in Murrells Inlet. “That rain front made them move around a little bit.” On Wednesday, Maples didn’t find kings cooperative on bottom spots in the 10-15 mile range but has found Spanish still available at Paradise Reef, located three miles east of Murrells Inlet. But while fishing for kings at Belky Bear, 12 miles off Murrells Inlet, Maples saw something surprising. “I have seen flying fish and a weedline at Belky Bear, and it’s really early,” said Maples. Also look for flounder, black sea bass and weakfish at the near-shore reefs, and expect to see spadefish show up at any time, if they aren’t already here. Spanish, blues and whiting are the best bet on Grand Strand piers, with Spanish showing up best around high tide. Also look for black drum, pompano and flounder off the piers, with kings roaming through when conditions are right. The ocean water temperature at Cherry Grove Pier was 72 degrees at the surface and 71 at the bottom Thursday at 6 p.m.
Look For: Dolphin, wahoo, blackfin tuna, black sea bass, vermilion snapper, triggerfish, porgy, grunts, amberjack.
Comments: It has’t been much of a week weather-wise for offshore trolling, and that trend doesn’t look much better for the weekend. The 9th annual Meatfish Slam, scheduled for Friday and Saturday out of Georgetown Landing Marina, has been postponed due to rough sea conditions. The make-up date is to be announced. Ed Keelin, general manager of Georgetown Landing, reports boats fishing to the south out of Charleston have had success with dolphin in the last few days. “They’ve caught the dolphin pretty good,” said Keelin. “They’re on their way.” Tis the season to catch a Carolina Slam, consisting of wahoo, dolphin and blackfin tuna for offshore trolling boats. The New Inlet Princess out of Murrells Inlet has had very good catches on recent bottom-fishing trips with anglers catching vermilion snapper, black sea bass, porgy, grunts, triggerfish and amberjack. At 12:01 a.m. Monday, the calendar turns to May and the annual Shallow-Water Grouper Spawning Season Closure will be over, meaning anglers will again be able to harvest grouper species such as gag, red and scamp. Red snapper cannot be harvested and must be released in the South Atlantic region.
Look For: Bream, catfish, bass, crappie.
Comments: An absolute deluge of rain fell early in the week in watersheds of the Great Pee Dee, Little Pee Dee, Waccamaw and Santee Rivers, so of course the rivers have a serious rise in them. “It’s been a little slow, and that rain has a lot to do with it,” said River Squires of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway “Everybody knows the river’s high and they’ve got to beat their boat up to get to the fish." Squires does note that catfish and bass have been landed on the ICW especially from Bucksport to Big Bull Creek, down to Thoroughfare Creek and the Ricefields area. But for now, the bream are in the woods.