Thanks, Irma: Local anglers hunker down as dangerous tropical system approaches

Dennis Caruso tosses a line from the Myrtle Beach State Park Pier this past summer.
Dennis Caruso tosses a line from the Myrtle Beach State Park Pier this past summer. jblackmon@thesunnews.com


Look For: Spotted seatrout, red drum, black drum, flounder, sheepshead, tarpon.

Comments: It’s been a solid week for Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service on a pair of very different trips. On Monday, McDonald and crew targeted tarpon — the vaunted Silver King of South Carolina summertime inshore fishing. Fishing in Winyah Bay, McDonald’s crew had four hookups while using large menhaden for bait. The largest tarpon, estimated by McDonald to be in the 100-pound range, was lost at the boat when the 100-pound mono leader wore through after a 45-minute fight. Then on Tuesday, McDonald’s crew had a field day with smaller but tastier fish, catching 16 spotted seatrout and seven black drum, also in Winyah Bay. McDonald used live finger mullet and cut shrimp for bait. Capt. Patrick Kelly of Capt. Smiley Fishing Charters had a solid day with a mixed bag in the Little River vicinity on Tuesday. Kelly's crew caught 10 flounder, five red drum and several black drum. Kelly used finger mullet for the flounder, cut mullet for the reds, and caught the black drum on Gulp baits and shrimp on jig heads


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

Comments: Spanish mackerel fishing has continued to be superb this week, particularly around near-shore artificial reefs. Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters in Murrells Inlet used the live-chum/live-bait method with plentiful finger mullet at Paradise Reef Tuesday. The method produced bites from super-sized Spanish, as Maples crew caught a dozen in the 24-inch range. Maples then stopped by the jetties and used the same finger mullet to catch red drum both within and over the slot limit of 15-23 inches. The next several days will be slow on the fishing front thanks to the approach of Hurricane Irma, as boat owners protect their vessels from the storm. Ronnie Goodwin of Cherry Grove Pier reports a mixed bag of species have been caught this week including blues, black drum, small flounder, whiting, croaker and ribbonfish. The water temperature at the pier Wednesday evening was 82 degrees. The captains meeting for the 7th annual Spanish Derby will be held Friday at 6 p.m. at the Mullet Hut, located on the Murrells Inlet Marsh Walk. The status of the tournament, scheduled for Saturday will be determined at the meeting. For more information, call 843-602-0910.


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

Comments: As of Friday sea conditions will become exceptionally rough and dangerous thanks to Irma’s approach in the offshore waters, where fishing will come to a standstill for several days. The silver lining? Fishing is always very interesting following the passage of a hurricane, which causes movement of fish. When conditions once again allow, expect good trolling action for wahoo and blackfin tuna. Bottom fishing can be spectacular after a storm, particularly grouper fishing. Anglers should note that cobia cannot be harvested in 2017 in South Carolina waters (to three miles offshore) or federal waters (beyond three miles) and must be released. Also, red snapper must be released in the South Atlantic region.


Look For: Bream, catfish, bass, crappie.

Comments: The Waccamaw River at Conway was right at flood stage Thursday afternoon at 4:15, with a reading of 10.88 feet, just below the minor flood stage of 11.0 feet. The Little Pee Dee at Galivants Ferry was in better shape, at 6.75 feet Thursday at 4 p.m. Both rivers could be in for a major rise after Hurricane Irma passes, depending on the storm’s track. Beware of floating debris if on the water after the storm. Work crickets under floats along the banks for bream and use cut eels, mullet or shad in deep holes to catch catfish.