Grand Strand Fishing Report: A week of rain has had an impact on action in estuaries

Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions shows off a red drum caught in March in Murrells Inlet in chilly weather.
Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions shows off a red drum caught in March in Murrells Inlet in chilly weather. Photo courtesy of O-Fish-Al Expeditions


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

Comments: The rainy stretches all week have had a negative impact on fishing in Murrells Inlet, says Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions. “The last few days has not been good fishing,” said Connolly. “It’s been slow for a lot of people.” Connolly has managed to catch flounder, red drum and black drum this week fishing structure around docks and deep pockets off oyster beds. “I think a lot of fish have been hugging structure and shallow bank lines to eat small bait,” said Connolly. Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters has found plenty of action this week with mainly small fish but with some very nice fish mixed in. “The last few days we’ve caught a lot of small trout, just shy of keeper size (14 inches),” said Kelly. “We’ve caught small black drum and a few short flounder. It’s been pretty good action. Seems like the best bite has been the lower tide and the beginning of the rise.” Kelly has caught the trout and black drum on live shrimp, the flounder on minnows. Kelly produced a 4-plus pound trout on Monday and a 25-inch red drum that hit cut mullet on Tuesday. On Saturday, before the rain set in, Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown had a very solid trip to the jetties of Winyah Bay, producing a mix of spotted seatrout, red drum, black drum, sheepshead and pompano. The two pompano McDonald’s crew caught measured 17 and 20 inches. McDonald used fiddler crabs for bait, with the trout hitting soft plastics and the black drum biting cut shrimp. McDonald noted there are plenty of sharks in the bay including blacktips, lemons and bulls.


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

Comments: Hosting the Jolly Mon King Classic this weekend, Capt. Brant McMullan of Ocean Isle Fishing Center has certainly had his eye on where king mackerel can be found. “(Fishing) 60-80 feet of water on hard-bottom would be my recommendation,” said McMullan earlier this week. McMullan notes bait has been scarce, but menhaden have been found in decent numbers off Southport, N.C. and Myrtle Beach. If live bait isn’t available, schoolie kings will readily hit slow-trolled cigar minnows. It’s been a wet and windy week meaning fishing activity has been slow for mid-June, but the artificial reefs and live-bottom areas within 15 miles of the beach are still holding spadefish, black sea bass, flounder and weakfish. Be ready to throw a live bait or bucktail jig to a roaming cobia if one shows up. Spanish mackerel, king mackerel and sharks also can be found in the vicinity of the reefs. Perry Duncan of Cherry Grove Pier reports whiting, black drum and spots have been the main catch off the pier, with Spanish and bluefish showing up at high tide. The ocean water temperature at midweek was 80 degrees, down a degree from a week ago.


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

Comments: McMullan points out the ocean water temperature is in summertime mode, which means it’s more difficult to find dolphin schooled up, at least within decent fishing range. “For mahi (dolphin), it’s been dead unless you get to the core Gulf Stream waters, 80-100 miles out, to find the fish now,” said McMullan. “There are some scattered dolphin even in 60-80 feet. They’re just milling about since the water temperature is about the same everywhere.” Bottom fishing remains excellent for vermilion snapper (beeliner), red porgy, grey triggerfish and black sea bass along with grouper and amberjack, with best catches on bottom spots in 90 to 120 feet of water. Red snapper are also commonly being caught but must be released in the South Atlantic Region. The 2019 red snapper season is set for the weekend of July 12, 13, 14 and again on July 19 and 20.


Look For: Bream, catfish, bass.

Comments: On the heels of a rainy week, the rivers have a rise in them. “It going up but I’m kind of glad for it, we needed some rain,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. “We’ve got plenty of water to maintain the river levels.” After nearly 10 months of the river levels being high following Hurricane Florence, and the fish spending plenty of time in the woods, Stalvey is impressed with the quality of fish being caught. “Everybody that’s been going has been absolutely amazed at the quality of fish,” said Stalvey. “With the high river levels, the fish have had a big break. They’re fat, they’ve been eating. They’re very healthy fish.” Stalvey reports excellent catches from all area rivers, especially the Great Pee Dee and the Little Pee Dee. Bream are hitting crickets, worms, popping bugs and beetle spins in 2-4 feet of water, with crickets the best bait option. Best action for bream is in the creeks and lakes off the main river. “That’s where the bream are stacked up at,” said Stalvey. Catfish action has been very good on eels and live bream. “They’ve been catching the fool out of catfish, especially blues,” said Stalvey. Topwater is working for bass, including buzz baits, Bang-O-Lures and poppers.

Related stories from Myrtle Beach Sun News