Outdoors

Grand Strand Fishing Report: Spring species should arrive with this weekend’s warmth

Bluefish are coming into the Grand Strand waters for the spring season.
Bluefish are coming into the Grand Strand waters for the spring season. File photo

Estuary

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

Comments: On the north end, Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters has had success with spotted seatrout and red drum in the Little River vicinity this week. “There are a lot of small trout on the top of the falling tide, and some keeper trout in certain areas,” said Kelly. “The jetties are loaded with trout and reds. If you drift down the rocks with live shrimp, you’ll get them.” Kelly has also been catching reds and black drum on docks. “I’ve been doing a lot of dock fishing because it’s been windy,” said Kelly, who has used live shrimp, cut shrimp and all types of Berkeley Gulp baits. “If you know the right (docks), there’s been plenty of fish.” On the south end, Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions has caught trout, sheepshead and flounder this week. On Monday Connolly called the fishing “tough” but still caught six nice trout measuring from 18 to 25 inches. On Sunday, Connolly targeted sheepshead and kept a 10-fish limit for his one customer. Connolly caught the sheepshead by chumming with barnacles and fishing fiddler crabs vertically just off the Murrells Inlet jetties. Connolly noted he has caught bluefish in the creeks of the inlet this week, the first pelagics of the spring to show up.

Inshore

Look For: Black sea bass, sheepshead, black drum, flounder, weakfish, whiting.

Comments: The rumor is Spanish mackerel were spotted in the near-shore waters early this week, but no catches have been reported yet. Look for that to change this weekend when the warmest weather yet of the spring arrives. Capt. Perrin Wood of Southern Saltwater Charters reports several species are available at near-shore artificial reefs such as Pawleys, Paradise and Jim Caudle including sheepshead, weakfish, black drum, black sea bass, flounder and possibly red drum. On a recent trip, Wood caught keeper black sea bass (13-inch minimum size) on the near-shore reefs. Spring fever is rampant, the water temperature has hit the 60-degree mark and is set to climb this weekend, but the fishing hasn’t picked up yet. Michael Wallace of the Cherry Grove Pier reports only whiting and puffers have been landed this week. “The whiting are slowly getting bigger,” said Wallace. “There’s been no drastic changes but we’re getting there.” Wallace reported a water temperature of 60 degrees surface and bottom Thursday afternoon.

Offshore

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

Comments: Reelist, out of St. Helena Island, S.C., headed offshore Sunday and Monday to fish two days in the S.C. Wahoo series, and jumped to the top of the leaderboard in the lengthy tournament. Capt. Trea Everett’s crew landed an 84.8-pound smoker on Sunday and followed it up with a 67.5-pounder to take the lead with a 152.3-pound two-fish aggregate. It’s been a windy week with little fishing action after Monday, but early in the week there were some good catches of blackfin tuna to go with the wahoo. Even a few early dolphin have been landed. The Conway foursome of Trey Jordan, Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey, Colby Calhoun and Rhiannon Johnston headed offshore Sunday in Jordan’s 22-foot Sea Pro for some trolling action in the Winyah Scarp area. Fishing in 71.6-degree water, the crew found plenty of blackfin tuna and boated 12 in the 12- to 16-pound range with most caught on a cedar plug. They also missed on a good wahoo bite. Capt. Jay Sconyers of Aces Up Fishing also headed out Sunday and had a superb bottom catch of black sea bass, grey triggerfish, vermilion snapper, red porgy and white grunts. Closures of reef species currently in effect for recreational anglers in South Atlantic waters include the annual shallow-water grouper spawning season closure, and deep-water blueline tilefish and snowy grouper closure until May 1. Red snapper are also off-limits indefinitely and must be released.

Freshwater

Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.

Comments: Stalvey, of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway, reports the rivers are forecast to fall and combined with the warmer weather arriving, the outlook is promising in the next few weeks. For now, there is solid action available for bream, bass and catfish. “For bream, I’d use crickets and worms 3-5 feet deep,” said Stalvey. “The warmer weather has got the fish pulling up some.” Stalvey recommends using spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, Senko and craw-type baits - anything that imitates a crawfish on the bottom - to catch bass, which are in bedding mode. Stalvey reminds anglers to do the ethical thing when catching the lunker female bass. “The big bass, make sure you handle them properly,” said Stalvey. “Hold it nice and neat and carefully release it. Getting a quick measurement and picture is all you need to get a mount.” The Trickey’s Fish Shack Annual Spring Catfish Tournament will be held this weekend on the Waccamaw River, Friday through Sunday.

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