Outdoors

Grand Strand Fishing Report: Cobia action is peaking 15 miles off the beach

Cobia action is peaking on artificial reef and live-bottom areas within 15 miles of Grand Strand beaches.
Cobia action is peaking on artificial reef and live-bottom areas within 15 miles of Grand Strand beaches. Submitted photo

Estuary

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

Comments: A variety of species are currently available in Grand Strand estuaries including flounder, red drum, black drum, spotted seatrout and bluefish. “Since the full moon, we’ve had some better, decent flounder coming in,” said Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions in Murrells Inlet. On a Thursday trip, Connolly produced 10 flounder with two keepers in the 18-inch range. Connolly’s crew also caught several slot red drum on mud minnows on a Carolina rig. Connolly noted a water temperature of 74 degrees in Murrells Inlet.

Inshore

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

Comments: It’s late May, and the action is hot on artificial reefs and live-bottom areas within 15 miles of the beach for cobia and spadefish. Capt. Justin Scott Witten of Ambush Sportfishing produced eight cobia along with Spanish and king mackerel on a Thursday trip. Capt. Jay Sconyers of Aces Up Fishing has produced some large cobia in the 50-pound range this week. It was monster spadefish for Capt. Matt Bellamy and Connolly on a Tuesday trip. The duo fished a spot beyond 10 miles out and kept nine spadefish with seven of them going 7-plus pounds. “We jelly-balled it up,” said Connolly. “There’s some monsters out there. Whenever you set the hook, you better hold on.” Also look for flounder, black sea bass and weakfish on the reefs. A variety of species are available from Grand Strand piers including Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, bluefish, whiting, croaker, pompano, black drum and sheepshead. Michael Wallace of Cherry Grove Pier reports a large black drum at the upper end the slot limit was caught this week. Also, Wallace notes several large whiting over one pound have been caught, plus Spanish mackerel action picked up on Thursday. The ocean water temperature was 79 degrees on the surface and 77 on the bottom on the pier Thursday afternoon. Pier anglers should have a live bait handy in case a cobia roams by among passing schools of menhaden.

Offshore

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

Comments: The Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament got underway on Thursday, with 33 of the 56 boats entered in the tournament fishing. Action was slow as three billfish were released including a blue marlin by Bench Mark, a white marlin by Home Run and a sailfish by Lady S. The tournament continues through Saturday with boats allowed to fish two of three days. Aside from billfish, trolling boats are producing good catches of dolphin, with a few blackfin tuna and wahoo mixed in. Bottom fishing is excellent for vermilion snapper (beeliner), red porgy, grey triggerfish and black sea bass along with grouper and amberjack. Red snapper are also commonly being caught but must be released in the South Atlantic Region.

Freshwater

Look For: Bream, catfish, bass.

Comments: Local river levels are finally in excellent shape, with makes for excellent springtime fishing. The Waccamaw River at Conway was down to 7.74 feet at 4:15 p.m. Thursday and making good tides. Even the Little Pee Dee, always slow to fall out, was in great shape, at 5.49 feet at 4 p.m. Thursday. Bream are within the banks and eagerly hitting crickets on throw lines in 2-4 feet of water. Worms and beetle spins will also work, but crickets are the ticket. Catfish action is excellent with a variety of baits working including eels and live bream. Look for catfish in deep holes or on dropoffs along the bank. With the water temperature near the upper 70s, bass are getting into their summertime mode. Trick worms, top-water poppers and buzz baits are solid choices to throw for bass.

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