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Catches and Temperatures Rise

A bump in water temperatures has fish more active, a sweet sight to anglers seeking a tug to their pole. Janet Blackmon Morgan blackmon@thesunnews.com

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

Estuary
Look For: Spotted seatrout, black drum, red drum, flounder, sheepshead, tautog.
Comments: The water temperature has rebounded thanks to the spring-like air temperatures of late, and species such as spotted seatrout, black drum and red drum remain active in estuaries from Georgetown to Brunswick County, N.C. A variety of baits and lures will work for trout and reds, including live or cut shrimp, cut mullet along with artificials such as plastic grubs, Mirrolures, Yo-Zuri shrimp, Vudu shrimp and DOA shrimp. Live or cut shrimp are the top bait for black drum. All three species can be found at area jetties with flounder, tautog, sheepshead and weakfish also a possibility.
Inshore
Look For: Bluefin tuna, black sea bass, weakfish, black drum, tautog, flounder, whiting, croaker.
Comments: Giant bluefin tuna made a showing just off the beach in the Wilmington/Carolina Beach area earlier this week, in the vicinity of right whales and schools of menhaden. Several bluefins were landed including one specimen that measured 106 inches in length. As of Thursday, the tuna were nowhere to be found but anglers from Southport to Little River will be trying to relocate them. Otherwise, black sea bass holding on near-shore bottom spots are the best bet. The bass have a daily bag limit of seven fish per person with a 13-inch minimum size limit and will hit a variety of baits including cut mullet, shrimp or squid. Sheepshead, weakfish, tautog and flounder are also available on the reefs. The ocean water temperature has risen nicely to 55 degrees at both the Apache Pier and Cherry Grove Pier after dropping into the upper 40s about 10 days ago. Despite the upswing in water temps, fishing remains slow in the surf and from the piers, with a few smallish whiting, black drum and croaker being caught.
Offshore
Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, porgy, triggerfish, grunts, amberjack.
Comments: Bottom fishing is simply excellent on the offshore ledges in depths of 80 to 100 feet, with plenty of vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grunts, red porgy and amberjack available. Plenty of species also cannot legally be kept, however. The annual Shallow-water Grouper Spawning Season Closure is in effect through April 30, meaning no recreational and commercial harvest or possession of gag, black grouper, red grouper, scamp, red hind, rock hind, coney, graysby, yellowfin grouper, and yellowmouth grouper is allowed. Also, red snapper cannot be harvested and must be released in the South Atlantic region. Trolling spots such as the Winyah Scarp and Steeples are producing wahoo along with blackfin tuna.
Freshwater
Look For: Bream, crappie, bass, catfish.
Comments: The rivers are warming up, the water levels are dropping and the fishing is picking up. “The fishing’s hot, (fishermen) just need to come get some bait and go catch’’em,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. Crappie are hitting shiners in areas such as creek mouths and deep holes around structure. Bass fishing continues to be very good with crankbaits, plastic worms and shiners producing. Bream are taking red worms and nightcrawlers lead-lined on the bottom. Eels and shiners are producing good catches of catfish.