Outdoors

Grand Strand Fishing Report: King mackerel bite continues as summer arrives

Red drum are among a number of species available in Grand Strand waters as summer officially arrives on Friday.
Red drum are among a number of species available in Grand Strand waters as summer officially arrives on Friday. For The Sun News

Estuary

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

Comments: Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters says there are plenty of fish to catch in the Little River area, but the size has left something to be desired this June. “Fishing has been consistent, but it seems like fishing was perfect last year with more keeper-size fish,” said Kelly on Thursday afternoon. “It seems like we have a crop of smaller fish this year.” This week, Kelly has caught plenty of smaller spotted seatrout on popping corks with live shrimp, and red and black drum on 1/4-ounce jig heads, also on live shrimp. For bigger trout, head to the Little River inlet jetties, Kelly said. Kelly feels the flounder bite has been off in the Little River area. “June is usually a really good month for flounder, but it’s been kind of disappointing this year,” said Kelly. Meanwhile, Capt. Jason Burton of Murrells Inlet Fishing Charters stuck it out on a tough day in the inlet on Wednesday but wound up with a very nice catch of flatfish in the last hour of the trip.

Inshore

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

Comments: Catches of king mackerel continue to be very good, particularly on hard-bottom areas in depths of 40 to 80 feet. Slow-trolling dead cigar minnows or live bait such as menhaden or bluefish will produce fish. Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters has hit the near-shore reefs adjacent to Murrells Inlet this week and has produced weakfish and flounder. Maples has also caught some surprisingly receptive spadefish, which actually hit cut shrimp. Some of Maples’ spadefish have been in the 3-4 pound range, including one 5-pounder. Summer water temperatures are fully entrenched along the beach with no cool down in sight until well into September. Late Thursday afternoon, the ocean water temperature at Cherry Grove Pier was 83 degrees surface and bottom and at Apache Pier 82 degrees surface and bottom. A variety of species are being caught off the piers. Cherry Grove Pier reports scattered catches of spots, whiting, sheepshead, spotted seatrout (including a few keepers) and bluefish. At Apache Pier, anglers are catching a mix of flounder, whiting, pompano, croaker, Spanish and bluefish.

Offshore

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

Comments: In recent weeks, good numbers of dolphin have been found but well offshore in the meat of the Gulf Stream, a minimum run of 60 miles offshore. A few scattered dolphin can be found on spots such as Winyah Scarp and even closer in at the Parking Lot. Trolling those areas can also produce the occasional blackfin tuna and wahoo, with king mackerel, barracuda and bonito also available. Capt. Jay Sconyers of Aces Up Fishing had a super bottom fishing day Tuesday with four sizable scamp to go with a mix of vermilion snapper, red porgy, triggerfish, black sea bass and amberjack. Sconyers also caught, but released, red snapper as the species cannot be harvested in the South Atlantic Region. In three weeks, the 2019 red snapper season will open, with fishing set for the weekend of July 12-14 and again on July 19-20.

Freshwater

Look For: Bream, catfish, bass.

Comments: Super summertime fishing continues on the rivers, with good action for bream, catfish and bass. “There’s a lot, a lot, of fish being caught,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle. “The big Pee Dee is up but the Little Pee Dee’s water level is perfect.” The Little Pee Dee is a prime spot for excellent bream fishing, along with the Waccamaw. “The bream fishing’s on fire right now,” said Stalvey. Bream are hitting crickets, worms, popping bugs and beetle spins in 2-4 feet of water. Stalvey helps host a bass tournament out of Conway Marina each Tuesday, and angler Steve Martin was this week’s winner with a big fish of 3.42 pounds. Stalvey recommends throwing Yamato senkos and buzz baits for bass. Catfish are hitting eels and live bream, or most any fresh cut bait.

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