Outdoors

Grand Strand Fishing Report: The dog days of summer have arrived early

Angler Homer Carder with a 6.5-pound flounder caught recently from Apache Pier.
Angler Homer Carder with a 6.5-pound flounder caught recently from Apache Pier. Photo courtesy of Apache Pier

Estuary

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

Comments: They call it fishing, not catching, and it hasn’t been the best of times for catching over the last week, says Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions in Murrells Inlet. “We’ve had some good days and some slow days,” said Connolly. “I’ve just been grinding it out. Ever since we had the rain starting on and off and the boat traffic around July Fourth, it’s been really tough. Think about how many boats we’ve had run through Murrells Inlet in the last week. It’s been very inconsistent. We caught a lot more nice flounder before the rain.” For bait, Connolly has used live finger mullet, the largest he can find, and roe mullet for cut bait, targeting red drum and flounder using a Carolina rig and slip float rig. “I’ve used the Carolina rig for flounder and reds, and I’ve caught a few reds on the slip float with live mullet, plus a few flounder on that if you’ve got the depth set right, about a foot off the bottom,” said Connolly.

Inshore

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

Comments: At 4:30 p.m. Thursday, the wind was blowing 24 mph from the southwest according to the Apache Pier data station, with a surface water temperature of a balmy 85 degrees and 84 on the bottom. Those are conditions indicative of the Dog Days of Summer, it indeed appears they have come early. Capt. Perrin Wood of Southern Saltwater was surprised just how slow the action was Wednesday when he hit a favorite red and black drum spot at the Murrells Inlet jetties. “I had five lines out with cut menhaden and dead shrimp, and a few live menhaden and mullet to keep a good balance of baits,” said Wood. “We didn’t get the first fish to hit any of them.” Wood also notes action of Spanish mackerel and king mackerel has been slow from the beach to near-shore artificial reefs and on out to the typical hard-bottom areas 10-15 miles offshore. “I feel like the dog days are more August than July but at this point . . . ,” Wood said. “There’s a lot of bait, menhaden, mullet, I just think the fish don’t have a lot of energy. Between the bait, the water temperature and all these storm fronts, it’s caused some issues.” Fishing is decent on Grand Strand piers with Apache Pier and Cherry Grove Pier reporting scattered catches of a variety of species including pompano, whiting, black drum, spadefish, sheepshead, blues, Spanish, ladyfish and ribbonfish, but no kings this week.

Offshore

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

Comments: Find the blue water well offshore of the break, and you’ll find the fish. Trolling boats can look for dolphin, blackfin tuna and a few wahoo along with marlin and sailfish. On bottom spots and ledges in depths of about 80-120 feet, trolling will produce scattered catches of dolphin, king mackerel, wahoo, blackfin tuna, barracuda and bonito, with sailfish a possibility. Friday marks the beginning of the 2019 red snapper mini-season, with NOAA Fisheries offering a five-day season this year for recreational anglers to harvest red snapper, with the species shut down the rest of the year. This weekend (Friday through Sunday) and next weekend (Friday and Saturday only), recreational anglers will be able to harvest one red snapper per person per day with no minimum size limit. The captain and crew on for-hire vessels may retain the recreational bag limit. Red snapper have occasionally been caught as shallow as depths of about 55 feet, but to really find them plan on heading to spots in 90 feet of water and deeper. Bottom, or reef, fishing is also producing good catches of grouper, especially scamp, amberjack, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, grey triggerfish, red porgy, white grunts.

Freshwater

Look For: Bream, crappie, catfish, bass.

Comments: “Fishing’s been good even through all this crazy weather,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. “The water’s come up a bit with the rain, but we’ve still got good water levels. The Little Pee Dee has come up a little bit, the big Pee Dee at Florence and the Waccamaw are looking good. Even though we’ve had some rain the river levels are amazing.” Stalvey notes this week has been a good one for using beetle spins to catch a number of species. “They’ve been catching nice fish, a variety of fish, off beetle spins - bream, crappie and bass,” said Stalvey. Bream are also being landed shallow and deep on red worms, nightcrawlers and crickets. “There’s plenty of decent-size, good-eating size catfish in the 5-15 pound range (being caught),” said Stalvey, who recommends using fresh cut eels, live bream or black salty for bait. “A lot of blues and some flatheads.”



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