Outdoors

Grand Strand Fishing Report: What’s expected after Tropical Storm Michael passes

Fall red drum action is in effect in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.
Fall red drum action is in effect in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. For The Sun News

Estuary



Look For: Red drum, spotted seatrout, flounder, black drum, sheepshead, ladyfish, bluefish.

Comments: It’s been another round of windy days with choppy water in local estuaries thanks to the approach and passing of Tropical Storm Michael. Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Inshore Charters had success on back-to-back trips on Monday and Tuesday before the wind really kicked in at midweek. “We’ve been catching Carolina Slams about every trip,” said Kelly. On Monday, Kelly produced red drum, spotted seatrout and flounder on live or cut finger mullet. Trout have also hit top-water plugs. On Tuesday, Kelly and his crew faced 25-30 mph winds but still caught reds, trout and flounder. “The guys wanted to fish,” said Kelly. On Thursday, the Atlantic Ocean was churned up by 25-40 mph southerly winds, with higher gusts, and coastal flooding occurred in the estuaries. Kelly thinks fishing will bounce back quick despite another blow from a tropical system. “I was blown away about how good the fishing was after Florence, so I expect it to be good (after Michael),” said Kelly. “There are a lot of fish in our estuary, and it’s a really good time of year to be fishing.” Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters was checking on his boat Thursday in Murrells Inlet, and noted bait is plentiful. “There’s tons of bait of running down the creek, big schools of mullet,” said Maples.”The water in the inlet doesn’t look bad.” On a Tuesday trip, Maples produced red drum in the 13 to 23 inch range and small flounder on live finger mullet. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown had good success with reds, trout, flounder and black drum Saturday on live and cut mullet, plus cut shrimp for the black drum, in the Winyah Bay vicinity.

Inshore

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

Comments: The wind kicked up on Monday in the Atlantic and hasn’t let up since. “Once that wind started Monday it was bad out there,” said Maples. Last weekend, king mackerel, including some real smokers, were caught trailing schools of mullet and menhaden along the beach. The winning fish in the U.S. Open King Mackerel Tournament out of Southport, N.C., last weekend, a 37.20-pounder, was caught Saturday on a bait pod just off Garden City Beach. “Until Monday, fishing was fabulous,” said Skyler Parks of the Apache Pier. Before Monday, the pier was producing catches of Spanish and king mackerel, whiting, bluefish, croaker, pompano, black drum, red drum and a few spots. Considering it is mid-October, expect catches to pick up nicely again, one the seas calm down and the water clears up.

Offshore

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

Comments: The crew of Dirty Martini headed offshore on Oct. 4 to the Black Jack Hole and hit the jackpot in 250 feet of water, with a one-degree temperature break, from 82-83 degrees. The crew brought home nine sizable wahoo and one dolphin. “The first one skied 20 feet out of the water,” said boat owner Jeff Martini. “It was epic. We had 3-4 sky on the bait. It was perfect, bait everywhere and the water was crystal-clear blue.” And then came stiff winds and rough seas thanks to Michael to keep boats in port most of this week. Look for excellent wahoo action once the seas settle down post-Michael. Fall bottom fishing is typically excellent for grouper, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, grey triggerfish, amberjack, red porgy and white grunts. Red snapper must be released indefinitely in the South Atlantic Region.

Freshwater



Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.

Comments: The Waccamaw River at Conway is finally about to get down to minor flood stage, a full four weeks after Hurricane Florence made landfall on Sept. 14. The Waccamaw at Conway was at 12.15 feet at 3:15 p.m. Thursday, just above minor flood stage and trending down. Boating and fishing is still not advised on the Waccamaw.

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