Outdoors

Grand Strand Fishing Report: It’s about that time to fill coolers with spots

As November arrives, Murrells Inlet and Little River are starting to produce coolers full of spots, a favorite panfish of autumn anglers on the Carolina coast.
As November arrives, Murrells Inlet and Little River are starting to produce coolers full of spots, a favorite panfish of autumn anglers on the Carolina coast. Photo courtesy Stalvey's Bait and Tackle

Estuary

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

Comments: Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters is getting warmed up for the Inshore Slam & Festival, set for Saturday out of Cricket Cove Marina in Little River. The Captain’s Meeting is Friday, 6 p.m. at the marina with fishing starting at 7:30 a.m. Saturday. For more information, visit www.captainsmileyinshoreslam.com. “Fishing’s been good so we should have a really good tournament,” said Kelly. The captain says the target species in the event, spotted seatrout and red drum, have been active with trout hitting floated shrimp along the bank of the Intracoastal Waterway. Red drum will hit a variety of baits including shrimp, mullet and cut bait. On the south end, Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown had a productive trip on Tuesday in the Winyah Bay vicinity. McDonald’s crew released three bull red drum, or channel bass as McDonald calls them, and caught nine red drum, or spottails as McDonald calls them. They also caught 10 spotted seatrout. The channel bass hit cut mullet while the trout and reds hit fresh whole dead shrimp. McDonald noted a water temperature in the bay of 70 degrees Thursday. Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions in Murrells Inlet landed four nice trout and two keeper black drum on Thursday using live shrimp. That’s the good news. The bad news is Connolly went through six dozen live shrimp to catch them, thanks to marauding bait stealers such as pinfish and croakers. Connolly noted a water temperature ranging from 69-73 degrees. The water temperature is quite warm for the first day of November, but it is spot season and the famed spot armada is on hand in Murrells Inlet to catch their favorite panfish. There have been decent catches of spots this week in Murrells Inlet and Little River, but the best numbers are likely yet to come when the water cools down well into the 60s.

Inshore

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

Comments: Bull reds are providing plenty of sport for anglers on near-shore hard-bottom areas, plus occasionally a pier angler will hook into one of the big spawning fish, which measure from 32 inches to 50-inches plus. These spawning fish are critical to the future of the red drum stock in the Carolinas and should be caught quickly and released carefully to give them the best chance of survival. The hard-bottom areas are also holding weakfish, black sea bass, whiting and flounder. Near-shore artificial reefs are holding weakfish, black sea bass and flounder, with Spanish mackerel also in the vicinity, but not much longer. The Cherry Grove Pier produced three kings both last Friday and Saturday, ranging from 18-24 pounds, but no kings have been reported caught off the piers since. A variety of species are being caught from the piers including Spanish mackerel, bluefish, whiting, pompano, black drum, red drum, spotted seatrout, weakfish and a few spots. The water temperature is in the low 70s, from 72-74 degrees.

Offshore

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

Comments: Capt. Brant McMullan of Ocean Isle Fishing Center reports trolling action for mainly wahoo along with blackfin tuna and dolphin has been slow offshore in the vicinity of the western edge of the Gulf Stream. But, McMullan says, better days are ahead later in November. “They are biting good to our north 200 miles,” said McMullan. “So give it to Thanksgiving and they’ll be here.” Seas look a little sporty on the heels of the cold front, but bottom fishing should be excellent for vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grunts, porgy, amberjack, grouper and red snapper. Red snapper are commonly found on the live bottom areas and ledges in the offshore waters, but must be released in the South Atlantic Region.

Freshwater

Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.

Comments: With the cold front here, crappie fishing should only get better in the coming weeks, and it’s pretty good right now. “The crappie bite has been on, and the fish I’ve seen have been nice,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. Crappie have been medium shiners in 3-4 feet of water around structure. The cold front will cool the water temperature a bit but Stalvey still says bream are scattered. “When it gets cooler, they’ll be stacked up in deep coves, in the middle of the creeks and around tree tops,” said Stalvey. “They’ve been catching a few on worms but crickets have been the main thing.” Bass action is good in numerous areas, says Stalvey, including the big Pee Dee, Little Pee Dee, Ricefields area and Bucksport area. Stalvey suggests using trick worms or Texas-style rigged artificials such as Senko, Magnum and Brush Hogs. Catfish action has been good. “They’re burning them up on eels right now,” said Stalvey.

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