Outdoors

Grand Strand Fishing Report: The fall bite of spotted seatrout is picking up in estuaries

The fall bite of spotted seatrout is picking up in local estuaries from Brunswick County, N.C. to Georgetown.
The fall bite of spotted seatrout is picking up in local estuaries from Brunswick County, N.C. to Georgetown. Courtesy photo

Estuary

Look For: Spotted seatrout, black drum, red drum, flounder, sheepshead, Spanish mackerel, bluefish.

Comments: On the heels of a significant drop in temperature Wednesday night, the trout bite turned on during a Thursday morning trip for Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters in Little River. “We had an excellent trout bite,” said Kelly. “We struck out at a lot of spots but we found them at one spot and caught the heck out of them.” Kelly’s crew also caught red drum in unusual fashion, as the reds ranged widely in size. “The reds were 14-40 inches in one school,” said Kelly. “It was crazy, it’s not usually like that.” Kelly was fishing dropoffs on the Intracoastal Waterway, with the trout hitting live shrimp and the reds on cut mullet, using an adjustable float rig. Kelly noted a water temperature of 72 degrees Thursday morning. The trout bite was also on for Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown on a Sunday trip. McDonald’s crew used soft plastic grubs to catch numerous trout, including plenty of keepers measuring from 15-19 inches. One red drum measuring 26 inches hit a grub and was released. McDonald noted a water temperature ranging from 69-71 degrees. Capt. Perrin Wood of Southern Saltwater had good success with black drum and red drum on a recent trip to the Murrells Inlet jetties. Area jetties and the channels of inlets such as Little River Inlet and Winyah Bay, along with near-shore hard-bottom spots in the Atlantic are also holding bull red drum measuring 32 inches in length and more, sometimes much more. Anglers are urged to catch these spawning stock fish quickly with beefed up tackle and release them carefully, being sure they are revived before letting them go.

Inshore

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

Comments: King mackerel and Spanish mackerel continue to show up strong along the beach, chasing southbound baitfish such as menhaden and mullet. Slow-trolling menhaden or bluefish around pods of bait or around hard-bottom areas or ledges can produce kings. The same method using finger mullet will produce nice Spanish. Three kings were landed from Apache Pier on Tuesday, while two were caught last Saturday from Cherry Grove Pier. On near-shore hard-bottom areas, bull red drum, weakfish and black sea bass are available for some fine fall action. Fresh cut mullet is a prime bait for all three species. Look for the same three species on near-shore artificial reefs along with flounder and spadefish. A variety of species are being landed from Grand Strand piers, including Spanish, blues, whiting, croaker, red drum, black drum, flounder and trout. The ocean water temperature at both piers was 74 degrees Thursday afternoon, both surface and bottom.

Offshore

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

Comments: Capt. Danny Juel of Fish Screamer Charters in Little River and the party boat Atlantic Star in Calabash, N.C. has seen some excellent bottom, or reef, fishing this week. Last Saturday and Sunday, Juel produced the regular vermilion snapper, black sea bass, white grunt, red porgy, triggerfish and scamp, plus hogfish (hog snapper). Flat-lined cigar minnows produced several king mackerel off the stern, in 110 feet of water. Jeff Martini of Dirty Martini in Little River had a super trip on Tuesday, landing grouper, vermilion snapper, triggerfish, cobia, red snapper, plus four king mackerel in 100 feet of water. Trolling action for wahoo has been slow overall out of Little River, Murrells Inlet and Georgetown. Martini noted a water temperature of 79 degrees Tuesday, but the current cool down may bring the wahoo, which have been caught in good numbers off Morehead City, N.C. this week, down to areas such as the Blackjack Hole, Winyah Scarp and Georgetown Hole. “Hopefully we’ll see them in the next week or two,” said Martini. “When we get a little bit cooler water temperature, from 70-75 (degrees), that’s what you need.”

Freshwater

Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.

Comments: The rivers remain at excellent levels for fishing and the cold front dropped the water temperature a bit overnight Wednesday and Thursday. In short, conditions are perfect for super fall fishing. Even with the dip in temperature, bream are still in summer mode. “Right now they’re still catching them on crickets in 2-4 feet of water,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle. “Some are even shallower.” Crappie action is primed to be excellent with fish hitting medium shiners in creek mouths and around brush. Catfish action continues to be very good, including a 41-pound flathead Stalvey saw from the Waccamaw caught on a live bream this week. Other prime catfish baits are cut eel and cut finger mullet.

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