Grand Strand Fishing Report: There Should be Fish to Catch Once the Cold, Flooding Recede

By Gregg Holshouser

February 21, 2020


Look For: Spotted seatrout, red drum, black drum, flounder, sheepshead, tautog.

Comments: Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions found some good action in Murrells Inlet, all in the creeks, earlier in the week before the significant cold front arrived on Thursday. First Connolly headed out Sunday with his 5-year-old son, Hunter. The Connolly duo had about a dozen live shrimp, which Hunter deployed on a three-foot Bass Pro Shops spinning reel loaded with 15-pound braid and rigged with a slip float. “He made good use of those shrimp,” said Capt. Connolly. “He caught about five flounder and four trout. The trout were 20-21 inches – they put up a good fight for him.” Capt. Connolly went solo on the inlet for a few hours on Wednesday, but had only artificials and dead shrimp for bait. He caught six flounder and a slot-size red drum (15-23 inches) on the artificials and seven black drum on the dead shrimp. “It seems like there’s a good bit of flounder around for February,” said Connolly, who noted the flounder were in the 14-plus inch range, just below keeper size of 15 inches. With the coldest stretch of the winter thus far at hand, Connolly feels action will remain good when it’s over. “I don’t think it’s going to stay cold enough long enough for it to have a big impact,” said Connolly. “As long as it doesn’t stay below 50 for long. It might shut them down while this is going on but when it’s over we should be able to catch some fish. And there are plenty of fish around to catch.”


Look For: Black sea bass, sheepshead, black drum, whiting, croaker, flounder, tautog.

Comments: Many of the near-shore reefs from 3-12 miles offshore are holding black sea bass and sheepshead, and if you find the right spot black drum and flounder may also be in the mix. For sheepshead, try chumming with barnacles and use fiddler crabs for bait. Important size limits for February include 13-inch minimum size limit for black sea bass, 14-inch minimum size limit for sheepshead and 14-27 inch slot limit for black drum. A few whiting, croaker and small black drum have been caught this week from Grand Strand piers, but there was very little angler activity late in the week. The ocean water temperature was still at 54 degrees early Thursday afternoon at Apache Pier, but was about to take a plunge with the cold blast arriving.


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

Comments: Another weekend arrives, and so does another cold front. Fishing days have been few and far between in the offshore waters. When boats can get out, trolling can produce good catches of wahoo and blackfin tuna. The South Carolina Wahoo Series opened Feb. 7 and runs through April 25, with boats allowed to fish three days and weigh in one fish per day during that stretch. Haint Blue of Isle of Palms holds the early lead with a 68.8-pound wahoo caught on Feb. 9. Visit for more information on the series. The best bottom fishing action with the most variety of species is in the 90-120 foot range, where amberjack, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, porgy, grunts, grouper and red snapper are all available. Look for large keeper black sea bass above the 13-inch minimum size in depths of 50 feet and beyond. The annual shallow-water grouper spawning season closure continues through the month of April and includes gag grouper, black grouper, red grouper, scamp, red hind, rock hind, yellowmouth grouper, yellowfin grouper, graysby, and coney. Also, red snapper are common on the ledges and live-bottom areas but the species is closed to harvest in the South Atlantic Region and must be released.


Look For: Bream, crappie, catfish, bass.

Comments: Flooding has returned to the Waccamaw River and the Intracoastal Waterway. The Waccamaw at Conway was at 12.51 feet at 12:15 p.m. Thursday, well into Moderate Flood Stage. The Little Pee Dee at Galivants Ferry and the  Pee Dee at Pee Dee (between Marion and Florence) were both at Minor Flood Stage. Anglers and other boaters are best advised to stay off the water until the flood waters recede. Any boaters that must be on the rivers or the ICW should beware of floating debris and navigate at idle speed, especially around residences and structures that are undergoing flooding. Wakes can easily cause further, unnecessary damage to the properties.

Five-year-old Hunter Connolly shows off a 20-inch spotted seatrout he caught while fishing with his dad, Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions, in Murrells Inlet on Sunday.