Fishing report: Offshore trolling action is excellent, led by mahi-mahi

A fisherman lands a redfish from the North causeway in Pawley's Island.
A fisherman lands a redfish from the North causeway in Pawley's Island. jlee@thesunnews.com


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

Comments: On the north end, Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters has had a solid week targeting flounder and spotted seatrout. On Tuesday, Kelly headed to Bonaparte Creek with flounder in mind. He had success using mud minnows on 1/4-ounce jig heads. “We caught a lot of flounder,” said Kelly. “Most were under (the minimum size limit), but we got a few keepers.” Flounder have a 14-inch minimum size limit in South Carolina and a 15-inch minimum size limit in North Carolina. On Wednesday, Kelly caught live shrimp in his cast net and proceeded to land double-digits of spotted seatrout while floating the shrimp under popping corks in Tubbs Inlet. Kelly’s crew also caught a few red drum. On the south end, Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service has fished the Winyah Bay vicinity from North Inlet to McClellanville, and has found only decent catches of trout and flounder along with a few reds. McDonald reports a water temperature approaching summer-like levels of 77-78 degrees. Jessica Perry of Perry's Bait and Tackle in Murrells Inlet reports flounder, as expected, are the fish to target in the inlet. “Flounder are doing pretty good,” said Perry. “They’ve been getting some big ones.” Perry also notes slot red drum are being caught on mud minnows, black drum are in deep holes and sheepshead can be found at the jetties.


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

Comments: It’s been a very good May for king mackerel fishing on bottom spots 10 to 15 miles offshore. Slow-trolling live bait such as menhaden or dead cigar minnows will do the trick in areas such as The Jungle and Belky Bear. Large Spanish mackerel are also in the mix. It is prime time for late spring cobia fishing along the coast of the Carolinas, but cobia cannot be caught or landed (brought to dock) in South Carolina. Cobia can be harvested in state waters of North Carolina, where the minimum size limit it 36 inches. Be sure to check regulations before harvesting a cobia. On near-shore bottom spots, spadefish have arrived for the season. The same spots are producing Spanish mackerel and possibly kings, bluefish, black sea bass, weakfish and flounder, plus plenty of sharks are on the prowl. Numerous species are a possibility on Grand Strand piers with calmer days with clear water near the beach producing the best catches. Look for Spanish mackerel, bluefish, whiting, croaker, pompano, black drum and sheepshead. Get your catch in quick from the piers, before a shark nabs it right off the line. Ronnie Goodwin of the Cherry Grove Pier reported a surface water temperature of 77 degrees Thursday at 5:30 p.m.


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

Comments: It’s prime time to catch a box full of dolphin in areas along the break such as Winyah Scarp, Blackjack Hole and Georgetown Hole. That’s exactly what Eric Cox’s crew aboard Coolin’ Out did Wednesday, boating 21 total dolphin including several nice gaffers. Wahoo and blackfin tuna are in the trolling mix, with blue marlin and sailfish lurking in the vicinity also. Bottom fishing has been superb with vermilion snapper heading the catch. Plenty of black sea bass, triggerfish, red porgy, amberjack and grunts are in the mix, along with the occasional grouper. Best catches are in depths of 90 feet and deeper. Red snapper cannot be harvested in the South Atlantic Region and must be released. Red snapper should be vented if necessary before being released.


Look For: Bream, catfish, bass, crappie.

Comments: With a dry spell on hand, river levels are dropping nicely, and the fishing is picking up. The Waccamaw is in great shape at 7.42 feet in Conway late Thursday afternoon, and the Little Pee Dee is getting there, at 6.3 feet at Galivants Ferry at 5 p.m. Thursday. “About one more week and (the Little Pee Dee) should be perfect,” said Gage Fortson of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle. “The water's been really high lately, and when it gets down the bite is going to be really good.” Look for bream hitting crickets and worms in 2 to 4 feet of water. Catfish action has been very good on eels, shiners and cut shad and herring.