Outdoors

Grand Strand Fishing Report: Schools of mullet have attracted larger fish to the area

With mullet on the move, Spanish mackerel action has been very good in Grand Strand waters this week.
With mullet on the move, Spanish mackerel action has been very good in Grand Strand waters this week. For The Sun News

Estuary

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

Comments: Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters in Little River has taken advantage of plenty of finger mullet to catch flounder, red drum and a few trout. “Mullet are everywhere,” said Kelly. “We’ve been fishing with mullet and having good success. Flounder fishing is really good right now and there’s plenty of reds around, and a few trout.” Kelly noted a water temperature of 84 degrees Thursday afternoon, fresh off a bait-catching mission. Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions in Murrells Inlet found a good red drum bite Thursday in the inlet. “We caught about 20 with six slot fish (15-23 inches),” said Connolly. A pair of flounder were added to the catch, including a 17-inch keeper (15-inch minimum size). “Flounder fishing has been kind of slow, with no numbers, but the keepers have been nice, fat fish. We’re just randomly catching them while redfishing.” Connolly has used a ¼-ounce Organized Chaos jig head with finger mullet to target the reds. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown caught about 20 fish on a trip Thursday, with his crew using finger mullet to catch flounder, trout, blues, ladyfish and a few weakfish in North Inlet. McDonald noted the water temperature was 78-79 degrees at sunrise but warmed up to 80 as the day wore on.

Inshore

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

Comments: Mullet of all sizes are on the move, and the Spanish mackerel have responded in all areas of the inshore waters. “There’s so much bait, just everywhere,” said Connolly. “You can pretty much go anywhere inside or outside of the inlet and there’s schools of bait. The big Spanish are going nuts, around the reefs, around the jetties, in the surf. Wherever there’s a big school of mullet there’s Spanish.” The near-shore reefs are holding flounder, black sea bass, spadefish and weakfish. Look for the late-summer bite of weakfish and bull reds to kick off anytime on near-shore hard-bottom areas. Action has been good in the surf zone, too, reports Norma Madaras of the Apache Pier. “It’s been a pretty good week so far,” said Madaras. “They’ve been catching croaker, whiting, ribbonfish, pompano, flounder, Spanish, black drum and trout. They’ve been catching Spanish every day.“

Offshore

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

Comments: All eyes are on Hurricane Dorian and what path the storm takes. Seas in the offshore waters look very sporty for the Labor Day weekend, regardless of where Dorian ends up. The silver lining is that a persistent northeast to southeast wind flow should push offshore water and the Gulf Stream closer to the break, so when conditions allow boats to get out, trolling action will be very interesting for wahoo, blackfin tuna, dolphin and sailfish. Bottom fishing has been excellent and will also be very interesting after Dorian passes by, hopefully well to the south. Common reef species that have been holding on the ledges and hard-bottom areas in 80-120 feet of water are grouper, especially scamp, vermilion snapper, grey triggerfish, red porgy, black sea bass, grunts and amberjack. Red snapper are being caught frequently but must be released in the South Atlantic Region.

Freshwater

Look For: Bream, crappie, catfish, bass.

Comments: The rivers remain low, which means fish are within the banks and readily available. “The water levels are right and the rivers are making a good tide,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle. Stalvey notes the Waccamaw River is producing plenty of fish, but the best quality of fish are being landed from the Little Pee Dee, and the Pee Dee from the Punch Bowl to Big Bull Creek. Bream are hitting crickets best, along with worms and beetle spins, in 2-4 feet of water. “The good ol’ bream buster is getting it done,” said Stalvey. Catfish action is good, especially in the ICW, and on the Pee Dees, said Stalvey. Cut eel and live bream are excellent baits for catfish. Bass are hitting buzz baits, trick worms and Texas-rigged worms in ditch mouths, curves and tree tops. Stalvey notes the cool spell has dropped the water temperature a bit, and top-water action is good.

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