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Catches hit or miss in estuaries

Locals Day at Apache Pier
Hundreds of fishermen lined the rails of the Apache Pier for the ninth annual Locals Appreciation Day last year. Jason Lee

Fishing report: Catches hit or miss in estuaries, but arrival of bluefish a good sign

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

Look For: Spotted seatrout, flounder, black drum, red drum, sheepshead, bluefish.
Comments: March is a transition month, for weather and for the fish. Spotted seatrout, flounder, black drum and red drum are all available in local estuaries from Georgetown to Brunswick County, N.C., but catches have been hit or miss this week. With April arriving, air temperatures should moderate in the next few weeks, the water temperature should rise and catches should become more consistent, especially for flounder. One sure sign of spring is the arrival of bluefish, and they showed up in good numbers this week in the near-shore waters in the Atlantic Ocean and in the estuaries. Capt. Mark Dickson reports that Capt. Ken Salos of Shallow-Minded Inshore Charters has produced trout on Vudu shrimp and has landed a few flounder this week in the Little River area.
Look For: Bluefish, black sea bass, weakfish, black drum, flounder, whiting, croaker.
Comments: Bluefish, and lots of them, have made the scene in the inshore waters, especially on near-shore artificial reefs. “Weakfish and blues, a bunch of blues,” said Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters on what he’s caught this week on the reefs. “We haven’t seen any Spanish (mackerel) yet, but we think (they will be here) within a week. The water temperature is 62-63 – it is prime.” Black sea bass, with a minimum size limit of 13 inches, are also available on the reefs. Action is on the verge of breaking loose on Grand Strand piers, too. Carsten Fischer of Apache Pier reports anglers were catching bluefish as of Thursday morning on the pier. Whiting and croakers with a few flounder have been the main catch on the piers, to go with the bluefish. Michael Wallace of Cherry Grove Pier reported an ocean water temperature of 61 degrees at surface and bottom Thursday morning.
Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, porgy, grunts, amberjack.
Comments: There are over two weeks left in the 2017 South Carolina Wahoo Series and action is heating up in the event. On Thursday, Wasted Time out of Murrells Inlet weighed in the biggest fish of the tournament thus far, a 100-pound, 5-ounce monster, and Hay Fever of Walterboro has the second-largest fish on the board, a 97.9-pounder. Capt. Brant McMullan of Ocean Isle Fishing Center reports Team OIFC and Team YellowfinOnly teamed to land an 82.8-pounder on Wednesday, the third-largest weighed in thus far. The series format is a two-fish aggregate, and boats can fish a total of two days by April 16. All three of the leading boats still have one more day to fish. Stay tuned. Boats have also been landing some sizable blackfin tuna, and look for dolphin to join the offshore trolling party in the next two weeks. Vermilion snapper, black sea bass, grunts and porgy are the top catch on bottom fishing trips, with triggerfish and amberjack also available. The annual Shallow-Water Grouper Spawning Season Closure is in effect through April 30. Red snapper cannot be harvested and must be released in the South Atlantic region.
Look For: Bream, crappie, bass, catfish.
Comments: Prime spring river fishing has arrived. “The bream have really been biting,” said River Squires of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. “We’ve sold so many crickets this week it’s not funny.” Squires says bream are hitting crickets in 2-4 feet of water off the banks, with the Little Pee Dee and the big Pee Dee at Yauhanna among the top areas. Catfish are hitting cut eel and shad while crappie continue to take minnows. “The bass are biting pretty good on a little bit of everything,” said Squires. “On the Waccamaw they’re hitting top-water, swim baits and frogs.” Squires notes the Little Pee Dee is a little high but the Waccamaw is “making a heckuva tide.”