Grand Strand Fishing Report August - September 2018
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What to expect when you head out to fish the Grand Strand over the next few weeks. Get a clue from noted outdoor writer Mike Marsh.
Capt. Larry Horowitz (Voyager Deep Sea Fishing and Dolphin Cruises, 843-626-4900, www.voyagerfishingcharters.com) said his boats would be catching all pelagic and bottom fish species from the inlets all the way out to the Gulf Stream.
"The bottom fishing will be outstanding," he said. "Our bottom fishing boats will be catching groupers, beeliners, triggerfish, snappers, sea bass, grunts, and rudderfish. The mates always set out live baits on light line rods off the ends of the boats. The live bait lines will be catching mahi, kings, cobias and sharks. The mates usually hand the light line rods to anglers who have not caught those species. If you have a kid along, make sure he is bottom fishing near one of the live bait rods and he might get the thrill of a lifetime catching one of those big predatory fish. We have rods and bait aboard for all anglers who do not bring their own."
For the great half-day trolling trips near the shore, anglers will catch sharks, bluefish and Spanish mackerel. September is one of the best months for king mackerel trolling, with the all-day trolling trips carrying anglers out to the Jungle, 65-foot Hole, Shark Hole or Atlantic Ledge.
Out in the Gulf Stream, anglers will be trolling lures and rigged baits to catch mahi, sailfish, wahoo, blackfin tuna and yellowfin tuna. Chances are good that a white or blue marlin will strike as well. The big game action will good at the 100/400 and Blackjack. Before heading offshore in the own boats, anglers should check ocean surface temperature charts and find water temperatures between 74 to 78 degrees for the best trolling action.
The Voyager fleet includes the 100-foot Super Voyager, 100-foot Continental Shelf, and 70-foot Starship, 44-foot Striker, 45-foot Long Line and 36-foot Reel Work. The Super Voyager heads offshore every Friday at 9 p.m. for an overnight bottom-fishing trip and the Continental Shelf runs 13-hour bottom-fishing trips every Tuesday and Saturday. The Starship rotates with the party boats to run half-day near shore bottom fishing trips when it is not heading out for an offshore trolling trip. The other boats offer dolphin cruises and near-shore trolling trips.
In the inshore waters, adult drum and flounder will be biting at the Little River Inlet jetties. Anglers can catch them by fishing with live menhaden and mullet on bottom rigs. Smaller puppy drum and speckled trout will also be swimming at the rocks. Anglers should cast float rigs baited with fresh shrimp or bounce a jig around the jetties to catch the smaller fish.
Spanish mackerel will school inside and outside the inlet. Anglers should watch for birds and baitfish schools to find the fish. Bluefish will mix with the Spanish mackerel by September. Trolling Clarkspoons or casting heavy metal casting jigs and spoons are the best bets for catching blues and Spanish.
Puppy drum and speckled trout will also be feeding in the grass beds and oyster beds back in the creeks. Anglers should cast popping floats with Berkley Gulp Shrimp or live shrimp to catch both species, along with an occasional flounder.
Flounder anglers should fish a live mullet or menhaden fished on a bottom rig in a navigation channel or a deep hole. The best flounder fishing occurs at Tubbs Inlet, Little River Inlet, Hog Inlet, Calabash Crossroads and Cherry Grove.
Apache Pier, Myrtle Beach
Pier manager Calvin Dickerson (Apache Pier, 843-497-6486) said the fishing has been excellent all summer long and would likely continue into the fall.
"We have been seeing lots of king mackerel," he said. "We will be participating in the Chambers of Commerce King Mackerel Tournament, which will be held on Sept. 22-23. It includes Apache, Myrtle Beach State Park and Cherry Grove piers. Participants should register at the pier they will be fishing. On Sept 29, we will also be participating in the Take a Kid Fishing tournament, which includes the Garden City Pier along with the other three piers. Our Apache Pier one-day king mackerel tournament will held on October 6, 2018."
Apache Pier has a live bait tank for king mackerel fishing as well as a shelter at the end of the pier. King fishermen use menhaden for baiting their trolley rigs. The pier allows only king mackerel anglers to throw cast nets from the end of the pier to catch live bait. Other anglers can use cast nets at the beach end of the pier as long as they do not interfere with other anglers.
Spanish mackerel and bluefish will move in by late August and stick around into September. Anglers cast Mackerel Trees, Got-cha plugs and spoons to catch these schooling fish early and late in the day. Sheepshead fishermen use barnacles and sand fleas for bait. Dropping the baits on bottom rigs right beside the pilings is the best technique. Observant anglers may see sheepshead grazing on shells growing on the pilings.
Many bottom fish will be biting, including red drum, flounder and speckled trout. The pier sells live minnows for anglers to use as bait for catching these larger game fish.
The spot runs should begin in September and continue into October. Along with the hoards of spots will come schools of whiting, pompano and croaker. The pier sells shrimp, bloodworms, and night crawlers for catching these small bottom fish
Springmaid Pier, Myrtle Beach
Springmaid Pier sustained major damage from Hurricane Matthew, which struck the first week of October 2016, taking all but 100 feet of the former 1,088-foot pier. Officials closed the pier to access until further notice. The pier's owner, Hilton Doubletree, intends to rebuild the pier. Watch this report for updates on the pier's reconstruction progress in future issues. Hilton Doubletree Resort reopened for lodging.
Capt. Jay Baisch (Fishfull Thinking Guide Service, 843-902-0356) said the king mackerel bite should be outstanding.
"We will be catching kings on through September," he said. "This summer, we had been having the best king mackerel action we have seen in a long time and it should continue to be good."
Kings will be biting in 40 to 60 feet of water at the artificial reefs and live bottom areas. Paradise Reef and Pawley's Island Reef are good places to try for kings. The fish will be biting frozen cigar minnows along with live menhaden and mullet. The best tactic is slow trolling at 3.5 miles per hour.
Other fish biting at the reefs include Spanish mackerel, flounder and spadefish. Anglers can catch Spanish mackerel by fishing with live mullet, hooking them on a downsized version of a king mackerel rig with only one treble hook and a short wire leader. To catch Spanish mackerel and flounder at the same time, anglers can anchor their boats and fish with live mullet on the surface for Spanish and live mullet on bottom rigs for flounder.
Spadefish will eat strips of jellyfish mantle fished on small hooks. Anglers should use dip nets to catch jellyfish on the way out to use as bait.
Bottom fishing for grouper, sea bass and snapper will be good at the Parking Lot and other live bottoms in 100 feet of water. For catching bottom fish, anglers should use cut bait, frozen cigar minnows, or jig up small baitfish with Sabiki rigs to use as cut bait.
Dolphin will mix with the kings over the live bottoms. They will be also be a the grouper ledges. If anglers see flying fish and floating Sargasso weed, dolphin should be in the area and possibly, sailfish. The best way to catch them is by trolling king mackerel live-bait rigs with frozen ballyhoo and cigar minnows.
Capt. Mike McDonald (Gul-R-Boy Guide Service, 843-546-3625) said topwater lures rule in the shallows.
Capt. Mike McDonald (Gul-R-Boy Guide Service, 843-546-3625) said tarpon will be jumping in Winyah Bay.
"August is peak of our tarpon season," he said. "The big red drum will also be running. Tarpon will hit artificial lures, flies, live baits and cut bait. One of the best lures is a 4-inch D.O.A grub on a jig. I usually fish with live menhaden or any other baitfish I can find that wiggles. I use both float rigs and bottom rigs, anchoring in a good spot and waiting for the fish. I start by putting out four lines. However, if the fish are biting, I can't keep that many lines in the water."
When the big red drum start their fall run in August, McDonald fishes with cut baits on the bottom of the channel. He uses Owen Lupton rigs for the big reds and for the smaller redfish because they prevent the fish from swallowing the hooks as often as other rigs. The Lupton puppy drum rig has a 4-inch, 30-pound leader, a half-ounce egg sinker and a 1/0 circle hook and the old drum rig has larger hooks and sinkers.
Speckled trout, puppy drum and flounder will be hitting live baits and Berkley Gulp Shrimp fished on float rigs on top of the oyster beds. Trout and puppy drum will also strike topwater lures such as Zara Spooks and Skitter Walks along with subsurface lures including MirrOlures, D.O.A. lures and Haw River grubs fished on ¼-ounce jig heads.
Tripletail will lurk around the grassy points and structure. To catch them, anglers should cast a fresh shrimp with the head on, fishing it on a float rig.
CAPT. MIKE McDONALD, GUL-R-BOY GUIDE SERVICE