Outdoors

Grand Strand Fishing Report: Finger mullet are boosting flounder action in estuaries

Pearce Scott shows off a cobia caught this week out of Georgetown Landing Marina.
Pearce Scott shows off a cobia caught this week out of Georgetown Landing Marina. Photo courtesy of Georgetown Landing Marina

Estuary

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

Comments: Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters reports the bait - namely finger mullet - has shown up, and so have the flounder in the Little River vicinity. “It’s like clockwork, about the second week in June the finger mullet show up,” said Kelly. “There’s a bunch of them out there now. The marsh is really coming alive with bait and the fish are in as well. The bigger baits like the finger mullet seems to be what the bigger (flounder) want.” Kelly’s favorite tide - low in the morning to rising - enables him to catch bait first and then target flounder, red drum and spotted seatrout. Along with an increase in keeper flounder above the 15-inch minimum size limit, Kelly has some nice fish among his catches this week, including a 27-inch red drum caught on high tide in the grass on fresh, cut mullet and a trout over 4 pounds.

Inshore

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

Comments: The artificial reefs and live-bottom areas within 15 miles of the beach continue to hold spadefish, black sea bass, flounder and weakfish, but be on the lookout for a curious cobia roaming the vicinity. Have a live bait and/or a large bucktail jig ready to cast to a cobia if one or more show up. Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, sharks and possibly tarpon can also be found around the reefs in early June. Angler Stephen Walker caught and released a medium-size tarpon off the Apache Pier on Sunday. Calvin Dickerson of Apache Pier reports a mix of pompano, whiting, black drum, flounder, Spanish mackerel and bluefish are being caught off the pier. The ocean water temperature at Apache Pier was 81 degrees Wednesday at 3 p.m. Look for Spanish mackerel, and possibly tarpon, in the vicinity of ocean passes such as Little River, Murrells Inlet and especially Winyah Bay. Action for school-size king mackerel in the 5-10 pound range is very good in depths of 50-70 feet.

Offshore

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

Comments: Some trips to the edge are producing excellent catches of dolphin in the offshore waters. Essentially, if you find the fish you can really load up. Ocean Isle Fishing Center reports the best dolphin bite is in depths of 100 to 150-feet, with trolled ballyhoo producing fish. Of course, work any weed lines found, and be ready to cast cut bait on spinning tackle if dolphin are spotted around the weed line. Trolling is also producing blackfin tuna, wahoo, king mackerel, barracuda and bonito. 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: River levels continue to be excellent, and the fishing reflects it. The Waccamaw River at Conway has remained steady this week, at 7.82 feet at 5:15 p.m. Thursday and making good tides. The Little Pee Dee at Galivants Ferry was actually low at 5 p.m. Thursday, at 3.94 feet with a slight rise in the forecast. Bream action is superb in 2-4 feet of water, with crickets the prime bait, but worms and beetle spins also working. Catfish catches continue to be very good with eels and live bream considered prime baits. Look for catfish in deep holes or on dropoffs along the bank. Trick worms, top-water poppers and buzz baits are good options for bass anglers, with action best early and late in the day.

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