Outdoors

Local fishing report (July 9)

Estuary

▪ Look For | Flounder, red drum, spotted seatrout, black drum, sheepshead.

▪ Comments | Flounder catches continue to be the top option in estuaries such as Pawleys Inlet, Murrells Inlet, Cherry Grove Inlet and Tubbs Inlet and as the summer rolls on, the number of keepers is increasing. The minimum size limit for flounder is 14 inches in South Carolina waters, but 15 inches in North Carolina waters. Red drum are also very active around Spartina grass banks and jetties. Look for spotted seatrout in about 4-8 feet of water off banks and at area jetties. Spanish mackerel and bluefish can be found in the vicinity of, if not inside, inlets such as Murrells Inlet and Little River. Also look for black drum, flounder and sheepshead at area jetties.

Inshore

▪ Look For | Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, bluefish, whiting, pompano, flounder, black sea bass, weakfish, sheepshead, sharks.

▪ Comments | It's been a super week off Grand Strand piers with at least six king mackerel caught. Wayne Smith of Murrells Inlet got things started Tuesday by landing a 25-pounder off the Surfside Pier on a bluefish. Then on Thursday, five kings hit the deck at Cherry Grove Pier, including a 28-pound, 14-ounce fish. Sizeable Spanish have also been caught on the king rigs, reports frequent Surfside Pier angler Adam Kuryea. A 7-pounder was landed off Cherry Grove Pier. Also look for bluefish, whiting, pompano and flounder off the piers. As usual in summer, sharks can be found in many areas, including around the piers, just off the beach and on near-shore artificial reefs. But the numbers do appear higher than normal this year. “It's the biggest numbers (of sharks) we've ever seen,” said Kuryea. Dr. Jason Rosenberg, owner of Painkiller out of Murrells Inlet, detailed his crew's latest shark fishing trip. The crew caught and released an 8-foot tiger shark on a near-shore artificial reef on Wednesday, using a fish carcass for bait. A few weeks ago, Rosenberg and company released an estimated 12-footer in the 800-pound range. “Sharks are out there in giant numbers,” said Rosenberg, who has been releasing 2-3 per shark trip. Ocean water temperature was 80.90 degrees Thursday at 3 p.m. on Cherry Grove Pier.

Offshore

▪ Look For | Dolphin, blackfin tuna, wahoo, grouper, black sea bass, vermilion snapper, triggerfish, amberjack.

▪ Comments | There will be plenty of boats targeting king mackerel from the beach to the offshore ledges this weekend in the East Coast Got Em On Classic, a Southern Kingfish Association-sanctioned tournament out of Carolina Beach, N.C. Depths of 60-65 feet have been productive for kings in recent weeks, plus fish have been caught in the 100-foot range. Offshore trolling has been minimal this week due to strong winds, but Capt. Shawn Thomas of Underdog out of Murrells Inlet reports dolphin, barracuda and false albacore have been caught with blackfin tuna and wahoo also available. The New Inlet Princess produced a sizable African pompano on a Sunday trip. Bottom fishing is also very good for grouper, black sea bass, vermilion snapper, red porgy, triggerfish and amberjack. Red snapper are off-limits indefinitely in the South Atlantic Region and must be released.

Freshwater

▪ Look For | Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.

▪ Comments | Rick Woodward of Rick's Bait and Tackle in Conway reports summertime conditions are set in on the rivers. “There's nothing new,” said Woodward. “This oppressive heat has slowed down not only the fish but the fishermen too.” Woodward notes anglers are looking to combine early morning and a falling tide as optimal conditions to catch bream on crickets or popping bugs. Woodward reports a 19-pound flathead and 33-pound blue catfish were caught this week. The lack of rain has allowed saltwater from Winyah Bay to move upriver into the lower Waccamaw and Pee Dee rivers. “It's not going to be unusual with this saltwater pushing up to catch a red drum in the Ricefields,” said Woodward.

Gregg Holshouser

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