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Better fishing days in store

Anglers set up on Pier 14 and 2nd Avenue Pier this past summer. Janet Blackmon Morgan

Fishing report: Wind won the week, but better days are coming for local anglers

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

October 05, 2017 5:16 PM

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

Comments: Fishing has been decent this week despite a relentless northeast wind, but Capt. Jason Burton of Murrells Inlet Fishing Center expects hot fall fishing to be on when it calms down. “I’d imagine it’s going to go nuts in a week or so,” said Burton. “As soon as this wind breaks it’s really going to cut loose. The nights are getting cooler and the best fishing is right around the corner.” Burton reports good catches of flounder in Murrells Inlet at low tide with red drum, black drum and spotted seatrout at the jetties. Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters in Little River noted a 72-degree water temperature during a Wednesday trip, a significant drop over the last week. Kelly has had good success with flounder and red drum on recent trips. ‘Low tide’s the best, and there are a lot of flounder,” said Kelly. On a Tuesday trip Kelly’s crew caught 20 flounder with a few keepers including a five-pounder on finger mullet on a 1/4-ounce jig head. Many of the fish were in the 13-14 inch range, just under the 15-inch minimum size limit. Kelly has also seen plenty of red drum this week in the 15-17 inch range. Local jetties are producing bull red drum measuring anywhere from 27-45 inches in length, well over South Carolina’s slot limit of 15-23 inches for the species. Anglers are urged to catch these spawners quickly with beefed up tackle and release them carefully, being sure they are revived before letting them go.

Look For: Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, bluefish, black sea bass, spadefish, weakfish, flounder, whiting, croaker, pompano, black drum, sheepshead and red drum.

Comments: It’s prime time to catch a variety of species in the near-shore waters, if only the wind would stop blowing. Weakfish (summer trout) and red drum have shown up on near-shore hard-bottom areas and mackerel (Spanish and kings) are following schools of mullet and menhaden southward along the beach. But the northeasterly wind has been blowing hard for nearly a week. Kings can also be found on bottom spots in 40-plus feet of water. “They’re out there, you just can’t get to them,” said Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters. Catches have been decent on Grand Strand piers despite the windy conditions and murky water. Michael Wallace of Cherry Grove Pier reports good catches of whiting and croaker, with some spots beginning to show up. A few juvenile red drum have also been caught this week. Anglers have had some success jigging for Spanish mackerel and bluefish. Wallace reported a water temperature of 77 degrees on the surface and 78 on the bottom at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

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

Comments: Once again, the wind has been the story of the week, with few boats venturing offshore due to rough seas. In recent weeks, offshore trolling boats were catching wahoo and blackfin tuna, along with a few dolphin. Fall is prime time for excellent bottom fishing and conditions look much better for the weekend. Look for grouper, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, red porgy, grunts and amberjack. Cobia cannot be harvested in 2017 in South Carolina waters (to three miles offshore) or federal waters (beyond three miles) and must be released. Also, red snapper must be released in the South Atlantic region.

Look For: Bream, catfish, bass, crappie.

Comments: With a dry spell on tap, local river levels are in great shape. The Little Pee Dee is low, with a 3.83-foot reading at Galivants Ferry at 1 p.m. Wednesday. Bream fishing continues to be excellent with fish hitting crickets and worms in 2-6 feet of water, reports Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. “Bass fishing’s been great,” said Stalvey, who noted one five-bass limit weighing an aggregate of 16 pounds. Stalvey says bass are hitting Texas-rigged worms, buzz baits and frogs. With the water temperature cooling down well into the 70s, crappie are starting to show up on the Great Pee Dee and Little Pee Dee, hitting medium shiners. Catfish are hitting eels, black salties or a variety of cut bait.