Outdoors

Grand Strand Fishing Report: Pier action turns hotter with cooler weather

For The Sun News

Estuary

Look For: Black drum, red drum, spotted seatrout, flounder, sheepshead, Spanish mackerel, bluefish.

Comments: With a pesky low pressure spinning off the northeast, a stiff northeast wind has been entrenched along the coast this week, hampering fishing efforts. “We’ve had to fish wherever you can to stay out of the wind,” said Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown. Still, it’s October, and the fishing has been pretty good despite the wind and a significant drop in water temperature. McDonald observed a water temperature reading of 71 degrees on Thursday in the Winyah Bay vicinity, a good 8-9 degrees cooler than a week earlier. On that Thursday trip, McDonald produced 16 spotted seatrout, seven red drum, two sheepshead and a black drum. McDonald caught the trout and reds on a variety of soft plastic grubs, including Haw River, DOA, Bass Assassin and Z-Man. The sheepshead and black drum hit cut shrimp. “It’s been very windy, and has made for some challenging trips,” said Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters in Little River. “Fishing’s been pretty good but I don’t think it’s where it should be for this time of year.” The best bet of the week for Kelly has been juvenile red drum. “The 12-17 inch reds, they’re all over the place,” said Kelly, who has also caught flounder, black drum and trout. Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions in Murrells Inlet has found a nice bite of black drum this week, and added spotted seatrout and red drum to the mix on Thursday. Connolly has caught the trout and reds mainly on finger mullet and the black drum on shrimp.

Inshore

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

Comments: The Atlantic Ocean has been angry this week thanks to the northeast wind, which means the piers have been the place to be. Three king mackerel were caught each day on Wednesday and Thursday, plus another was landed by midday Friday from the Cherry Grove Pier. The biggest king of the week was a 29.15-pounder caught by Andrea Garcia. That makes 80-plus kings caught from the Cherry Grove pier during the 2019 fishing season. Anglers also enjoyed a run of spots on Monday and Tuesday, slot-size black drum and bull reds have made a showing, plus blues and Spanish mackerel have been landed. On Wednesday, angler Jason Milam caught his first king mackerel, a 25.60-pounder, from the Apache Pier. That makes 65 kings landed from the Apache Pier during 2019. “We’ve had a good week,” said manager Calvin Dickerson of the Apache Pier. “We had a big spot run on Tuesday, and they’re still catching a few (on Friday).” Anglers are reminded there is a 50 per person per day aggregate bag limit in effect for any combination of Atlantic croaker, spot and whiting. The pier has also produced good catches of bluefish and flounder, along with pompano, whiting and Spanish mackerel. The near-shore bottom spots are holding bull red drum, weakfish and black sea bass. Look for weakfish, black sea bass, flounder and sheepshead on artificial reefs from 3-10 miles offshore.

Offshore

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

Comments: The wind has kept offshore boats at the dock this week, but the marine forecast is looking more favorable for Sunday into next week. Wahoo and blackfin tuna are the best bet for trolling boats in mid-October with dolphin, yellowfin tuna, barracuda and sailfish also possibilities. The bottom fishing, or reef fishing, is typically excellent in autumn, and anglers can expect to find vermilion snapper, black sea bass, grey triggerfish, red porgy, white grunts, amberjack, grouper and red snapper holding on the structure. Bottom spots in depths of 90-120 feet of water typically produce the best catches. Of course, red snapper must be released in the South Atlantic Region indefinitely.

Freshwater

Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.

Comments: Conditions remain excellent on the rivers and, with a drop in air and water temperature, fine fall fishing is at hand. Cooler weather means hotter action for crappie. “They’re catching the fire out of them on medium shiners,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. Stalvey calls bream action “phenomenal” with fish hitting crickets, along with red worms and nightcrawlers, in 2-4 feet of water. Stalvey reports the best bream action is on the Little Pee Dee and big Pee Dee rivers. Trick worms, flukes and Texas-rigged worms are producing bass, with a variety of colors working. “Catfishing has been wonderful on bush hooks and rod and reel,” said Stalvey. Top baits are live bream, cut eel and cut mullet.

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