Outdoors

Grand Strand Fishing Report: Monster wahoo surprises bottom-fishing anglers

The crew of of Capt. Danny Juel’s Fish Screamer III shows off the 99.5-pound wahoo caught while bottom fishing Sunday out of Little River.
The crew of of Capt. Danny Juel’s Fish Screamer III shows off the 99.5-pound wahoo caught while bottom fishing Sunday out of Little River. Submitted photo

Estuary

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

Comments: The water temperature has taken a plunge and the winter trout bite is on. Action for winter trout, officially known as spotted seatrout with a few weakfish mixed in, has been on fire in local estuaries from Georgetown to Brunswick County, N.C. “The fishing report is float a live shrimp under a slip float anywhere in Murrells Inlet and you can catch fish,” said Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions, only half-joking. “If you stumble on the right spot, you can catch a bunch of fish.” Live shrimp is clearly the top bait in the inlet currently, with mud minnows and finger mullet not producing nearly as well. “The fish are changing their diet,” said Connolly. “They ate finger mullet all summer and now they want shrimp.” With another cold front arriving, ushering in the coldest air of the autumn thus far, Connolly and plenty of other anglers are hoping it’s enough to chase bait-stealing pinfish out of the estuaries. “I hope so,” said Connolly. “The last cold front pushed a bunch of trout in, and I hope this runs (the pinfish) out of here.” Connolly has noted a water temperature of 65-68 degrees this week, with a dip into the lower 60s forthcoming. The live shrimp are also producing plenty of red drum, black drum and flounder.

Inshore

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

Comments: Plenty of anglers are taking advantage of the opportunity to battle bull red drum on the live or hard-bottom areas near the beach, along with some of the shallower near-shore artificial reefs. The bull reds are in spawning mode and can also be found at area jetties and the channels of inlets, hence one of their many nicknames - channel bass. The slot limit for red drum in South Carolina is 15-23 inches, and the bull reds typically measure well over 30 inches, even to 50 inches-plus and must be released. 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. Look for weakfish, black sea bass and flounder in the same areas. Grand Strand piers are producing blues, whiting, pompano, flounder, black drum, a few Spanish mackerel and perhaps a few spots. The big question is when, or if, the big run of spots will take place. With the coldest front of the fall currently pushing through, Manager Steve Gann of the Cherry Grove Pier may have an answer. “They’ve been catching them at Topsail Beach and Surf City (N.C.),” said Gann. “The water temperature has dropped from 74 to 68 this week. If we don’t see them this weekend, I’ll be surprised.”

Offshore

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

Comments: The wind has been blowing virtually all week and offshore trolling or bottom fishing trips have been few and far between. However, when boats can get out, there are some quality fish available. Case in point, a Sunday bottom fishing trip with Capt. Danny Juel of Little River at the helm of Fish Screamer III. “We were anchored up bottom fishing and the fish just came swimming up,” recalled Juel. The fish was a monster wahoo, and Juel’s eyes lit up. “He came right up behind the boat, and the water was so clear it looked like he weighed 150 pounds,” said Juel. The crew pitched out a dead sardine on a purple and black duster, essentially a king mackerel rig, hoping to entice the wahoo. “We threw a bait out there and he jumped all over it,” said Juel. “There’s something about that purple and black, wahoo love it.” After a feisty battle on the light tackle, they boated the huge wahoo, which weighed 99.5 pounds. Since Sunday, Juel hasn’t been able to get back out due to the windy conditions. “We’ve had to cancel every trip this week,” said Juel. “The fish are biting this time of year but you’ve got to dodge that weather.”

Freshwater

Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.

Comments: With one cold front here and a true wintry blast coming next week, look for fish on the rivers to start going into their winter mode. “In the long run it will get them grouped up and then we can go to lead-lining in deeper holes for bream and crappie,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. “They’re still scattered everywhere right now.” For now, look for crappie in 3-4 feet of water around structure hitting medium shiners. Bream continue to be found in 2-4 feet of water hitting crickets and worms. Catfish action has been excellent over the last week with eels and live bream prime baits. “The catfishing has been absolutely amazing,” said Stalvey. “The colder it gets it seems like the better it gets.” Stalvey says bass action is best on the big Pee Dee, Little Pee Dee, Ricefields area and Bucksport area and suggests using trick worms or Texas-style rigged artificials such as Senko, Magnum and Brush Hogs.

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