Grand Strand Fishing Report: Blackfin tuna bite is hot in offshore waters

Maurillo Marquez of  Cary, N.C. holds a 21-pound, 12-ounce blackfin tuna, a fish that is now active in offshore waters.
Maurillo Marquez of Cary, N.C. holds a 21-pound, 12-ounce blackfin tuna, a fish that is now active in offshore waters. Richard Ehrenkaufer


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

Comments: The torrid trout bite continues in local estuaries with numerous fish being caught from Georgetown to south Brunswick County. By all accounts, spotted seatrout mainly in the 12-13 inch range, just below the minimum size of 14 inches for North and South Carolina, are plentiful. Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters had an excellent trip on Monday, also catching a flounder, but the trout were the focal point of the day. “Everywhere we stopped we caught fish,” said Kelly. “We’ve been hammering them - some spots we were catching them every cast.” While floating live shrimp is considered the prime method, artificials are working just fine for the trout. Kelly has used Berkeley Gulp Shrimp and Vudu shrimp, either on a popping cork or jig head. “Anything clear, white or white with chartreuse is working,” said Kelly. Kelly’s crew did harvest 12 keepers on the trip. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown had a superb trip in the Winyah Bay vicinity and points south, also on Monday. McDonald’s crew caught good numbers of trout, red drum and flounder on plastic grubs, plus a few black drum on cut shrimp. The bite wasn’t quite as good but still decent for McDonald on Wednesday, when a cold front moved through. “It’s been pretty darn good,” said McDonald. “This front spoiled it a little for me (on Wednesday) but I would think it will turn right back on.”


Look For: Bluefish, sheepshead, black sea bass, flounder, weakfish, whiting, croaker, pompano, black drum.

Comments: Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters out of Murrells Inlet headed out to Belky Bear, about 12 miles east of the inlet, Monday in search of king mackerel, but they weren’t home in 66-degree water. Maples eased over to the adjacent 10-Mile Reef and found black sea bass plentiful, including several keepers over the 13-inch minimum size limit. “We had a ton of throwbacks,” said Maples. The highlight of the trip was an 8-pound flounder caught while fishing for the black sea bass. Action from Grand Strand piers has been slow for spots, but plenty of whiting have been caught. There have also been scattered catches of flounder, bluefish, black drum, weakfish and pompano. Michael Wallace of Cherry Grove Pier reports a water temperature of 63 degrees at the surface and on the bottom Wednesday afternoon.


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

Comments: The blackfin tuna bite was excellent Sunday at the McMarlen Ledge, located 58 miles south of Little River Inlet, reports Jeff Martini of Dirty Martini out of Little River. “The McMarlen was on fire, the blackfin were stacked up like crazy,” said Martini. Wahoo are on hand, too, with boats averaging one fish each on Sunday. With the water temperature cooling, grouper are moving inshore, and the bite is on. “Grouper are good from 17 to 32 miles out,” said Martini. “They have moved in. The inshore grouper bite is on.” On bottom fishing trips, also look for vermilion snapper, black sea bass, grey triggerfish, amberjack, red porgy and grunts. Red snapper are common on the offshore reefs and ledges, but must be released indefinitely in the South Atlantic Region.


Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.

Comments: Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway is glad to see some activity after the well-documented flooding in September. “More people have been going,” said Stalvey. “It’s good to see some life.” The top reports Stalvey has seen and heard this week are from the Ricefields vicinity in Georgetown County, which has been producing good catches of bream and catfish, both hitting worms and nightcrawlers on the bottom. The Waccamaw at Conway was a little high at 9.06 feet at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday. The Pee Dee system, however, continues to be in flooding stages, with the Little Pee Dee at Galivants Ferry at 9.8 feet, in minor flood stage, Wednesday at 3 p.m. The Pee Dee River at Pee Dee continues to be in moderate flood stage.