Outdoors

Grand Strand Fishing Report: Spring is in full swing, which means more and bigger fish

Flounder are increasing in numbers and size in local estuaries and inshore, marking the arrival of spring.
Flounder are increasing in numbers and size in local estuaries and inshore, marking the arrival of spring. Submitted photo

Estuary

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

Comments: The April flounder bite is ramping up with a steady increase in number and size of fish in local estuaries. Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions notes plenty of undersized flounder but more keepers at or above the 15-inch minimum size limit in Murrells Inlet this week. The flatfish are active on the north end, too. “The flounder fishing in Cherry Grove is really good,” said Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters in Little River. Connolly notes “tons of blues” are biting in Murrells Inlet along with black drum, plus red drum. Kelly has also had success with red drum this week. Kelly notes Atlantic sharpnose sharks have shown up for the season at the Little River jetties.

Inshore

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

Comments: King mackerel continue to be caught on bottom spots in 50-60 feet of water such as Belky Bear and the Jungle, but don’t be surprised to find them at near-shore artificial reefs 3-5 miles out. Spanish mackerel continue to be caught at the near-shore reefs and are making more of a showing along the beach. “Everybody’s ripping the Spanish at the reef and around the jetties,” said Connolly. Troll mackerel trees on No. 1 planers or cast jig fish or Big Nic’s Spanish candy at the reefs, which are also holding nice weakfish and plenty of bluefish.

Scott Shelton of Apache Pier reports good action for whiting, Spanish mackerel and bluefish this week. “They’re catching a lot of Spanish out here, jigging, but no kings yet,” said Shelton, who personally caught a 1-pound, 11-ounce bull whiting Wednesday. Pompano have made a good showing this week, with Grand Strand piers also producing plenty of bluefish plus scattered spots, flounder and black drum. Shelton reported a water temperature of 66 degrees Thursday morning. Hot spots in the surf are producing pompano and whiting.

Offshore

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

Comments: Chris Lawhon, Capt. Alex Hrycak and crew out of Murrells Inlet fished the S.C. Wahoo Series on Wednesday and landed nine wahoo out of 12 bites. Trey Jordan, Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey and crew headed out on Jordan’s Sea Pro for a full day of offshore fishing on Tuesday. The crew made the 70-mile run to the SW Banks and caught a pair of wahoo, one 30-pounder and another just over 40. The crew also landed a few little tunny in the 10-15 pound range. One the way back in, they stopped for some bottom fishing action and added vermilion snapper and black sea bass to the box. Bottom fishing is excellent, with triggerfish, porgy, amberjack and grouper all available. The annual shallow-water grouper spawning season closure ends on Tuesday, with recreational anglers once again able to harvest grouper starting on Wednesday, May 1. Plenty of red snapper are available on the reefs, but must be released in the Southeast region.

Freshwater

Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.

Comments: The rivers remain high, but springtime fishing action is in full swing regardless. “The bream, bass and catfish have been amazing,” said Stalvey, of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. “Bream are hitting crickets the best right now in 2-4 feet. Fish the tree line where the caterpillars are falling.” Stalvey says catfish action has been excellent. “Eels have been the ticket for those,” said Stalvey. “They’ve been catching the fool out of them.” Stalvey notes that some bass are still bedding and recommends using Senko worms, Texas-rigged worms or top-water lures. Both Pee Dee rivers remain high, and Stalvey says the best areas to fish are the Waccamaw and the Ricefields area.

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