Outdoors

Grand Strand Fishing Report: The red hot king mackerel bite continues

Ray England shows off a king mackerel caught Thursday while fishing with Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions just off the beach out of Murrells Inlet.
Ray England shows off a king mackerel caught Thursday while fishing with Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions just off the beach out of Murrells Inlet. Photo courtesy of O-Fish-Al Expeditions

Estuary

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

Comments: Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions has had a solid week catching red drum, black drum and flounder in Murrells Inlet. Connolly has used jumbo mud minnows on Carolina rigs to catch the reds, with a few keeper flounder mixed in. For the black drum, Connolly has used fresh cut shrimp and fiddler crabs also on Carolina rigs. “Use as little weight as possible,” Connolly said of the Carolina rigs. Connolly has found the reds around docks and the black drum at the jetties and in deeper holes in the creeks. To the south, Sunday’s deluge of rain has plenty of freshwater flowing down the rivers into Winyah Bay. “The bay is fresh and as full of menhaden as it can be,” said Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service, who noted a water temperature of 72 degrees at midweek. The bay is producing red drum, black drum, flounder and spotted seatrout.

Inshore

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

Comments: From the beach to depths of 70 feet, king mackerel action continues to be on fire. Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters out of Murrells Inlet is still wearing out the kings slow-trolling cigar minnows on jig heads in the Belky Bear vicinity. Connolly ventured out of his usual area inside the jetties of Murrells Inlet and tried his hand at the kings on a nice Thursday morning just off the beach. Connolly and his fishing partner Ray England landed a 15-pound king while slow-trolling a 6-8 inch dead mullet. Connolly noted a water temperature of 71 degrees, down from a week ago thanks to Sunday’s heavy rain and following a cool front. Last Friday, angler Jules Jayet landed a 40-pound king off the Cherry Grove Pier, reports Tony McElveen of the pier. McElveen notes the pier is producing Spanish mackerel to 20 inches, whiting and bluefish and reported a water temperature of 73 degrees Wednesday afternoon. Skyler Parks of Apache Pier reports the pier is producing good numbers of nice whiting and Spanish along with pompano, blues and perch but no kings yet. Parks noted a water temperature of 74 degrees Thursday afternoon. With the water temperature reaching the mid-70s cobia have made their way into area waters, following bait pods and visiting artificial reef and hard-bottom areas in depths of about 30-70 feet. Be sure to have a nice live bait (mullet, croaker, menhaden, pinfish, etc.) ready in case a cobia shows up on the reefs or around a bait pod. Spadefish are also available on near-shore artificial reefs.

Offshore

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

Comments: The dolphin bite has consistently been very good over the last week in areas surrounding the break. Capt. Brant McMullan of Ocean Isle Fishing Center (OIFC.com) reports best action for dolphin has been in depths of 150 to 300 feet, but also try weed lines in 100 feet or venture farther out, well beyond 300 feet. Trolling has also produced a good mix of blackfin tuna and wahoo. Billfish are available including blue marlin, sailfish and white marlin. With grouper season here as of May 1, McMullan reports grouper action is good in depths of 80-120 feet. Capt. Justin Witten of Ambush Charters proved bottom fishing is excellent for species other than grouper with a fantastic catch of vermilion snapper (beeliner), red porgy, grey triggerfish and black sea bass on a Thursday trip. Red snapper are readily available, especially in depth of 70 feet and beyond, but must be released in the South Atlantic Region.

Freshwater

Look For: Bream, catfish, bass.

Comments: The deluge of rain on Sunday didn’t put a hold on fine fishing on the rivers, says Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. “It is good, good, extra good,” said Stalvey. “The big rain hasn’t affected nothing. The bream fishing is on fire with a lot of healthy, healthy fish.” Stalvey says bream action remains excellent in 2-4 feet of water and crickets are the ticket, although worms and beetle spins will produce too. Catfish action remains very good with eels and live bream the top baits. “The bream are pulling up (close to the bank), and a lot of the catfish pull up there to feed on them on the drop offs,” said Stalvey. Bass are getting into the summertime mode, and Stalvey recommends throwing trick worms, top-water poppers and buzz baits. With the cool front this week, angler activity has been high. “There’s been a pile of people fishing,” said Stalvey. “The weather has been spot on.”

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