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Welcome gift to Grand Strand anglers

February 10, 2017 Blog, blogs Comments Off on Welcome gift to Grand Strand anglers


Captain Mike McDonald throws a cast net to catch menhaden to use for bait in Winyah Bay, Georgetown. JASON LEE jlee@thesunnews

Abnormal February temps a welcome gift to Grand Strand anglers

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

Estuary
Look For: Spotted seatrout, black drum, red drum, flounder, sheepshead.
Comments: How’s the fishing currently for spotted seatrout in February, sometimes a month when the species is lethargic and clinging to life due to cold water temperatures in local estuaries? It is just great, as Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown found out earlier this week. On Monday, McDonald’s customers caught 28 trout in the Winyah Bay vicinity including a couple gator trout weighing 5 1/2 and 6 pounds. “That’s a damn good day anytime, much less February,” said McDonald. McDonald’s crew was simply fishing with artificial grubs on 1/4 and 1/8-ounce jig heads. “Those are some of the biggest trout I’ve ever caught with my guide service,” said McDonald. “It was just a monster bunch of fish for this area down here. They get them in Murrells Inlet and Little River, but we just don’t get that many big (trout) in this inlet.” The bay was alive and warm for February said McDonald, who noted schools of mullet and glass minnows and saw a consistent water temperature of 54 degrees, plus one area with 58-degree water. Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters in Little River produced eight trout on a Wednesday trip using Mirrolures and Berkely Gulp artificials.
Inshore
Look For: Sheepshead, black drum, croaker, whiting.
Comments: You need to know exactly where to go, but there are sheepshead and black drum holding on near-shore artificial reefs, including some monster sheepshead upwards of five pounds. Black sea bass (13-inch minimum size limit, 7-fish per person) are also prevalent on the reefs, but finding keepers can be a challenge. Also look for tautog and possibly weakfish and flounder. On Grand Strand piers, small whiting, croaker and black drum are being caught but action is slow overall. The ocean water temperature at Cherry Grove Pier Thursday afternoon was 54 degrees.
Offshore
Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grunts, red porgy, amberjack.
Comments: There was a window of opportunity early in the week, and a few area boats made it to the offshore ledges and found trolling for wahoo to be productive. Blackfin tuna are also a possibility. Bottom fishing continues to be excellent for vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grunts, red porgy and amberjack, if conditions permit. Be ready to release some fish though, as the annual Shallow-water Grouper Spawning Season Closure is in effect through April 30, plus red snapper cannot be harvested and must be released in the South Atlantic region.
Freshwater
Look For: Crappie, bream, bass, catfish.
Comments: Ronald ‘Catfish’ Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway reports very good action on local rivers for February. Stalvey noted the Ricefields area and ponds off the Waccamaw River at Conway have been productive areas. Crappie have been caught on minnows both on floats on structure and lead-lining. Bream are hitting worms and nightcrawlers lead-lining on the bottom. Catfish are taking eels and large shiners. Bass action has been very good, Stalvey said, with fish in pre-spawn mode hitting plastic worms, jerkbaits and crankbaits. “Bass are hot right now,” said Stalvey. “They are fanning things out, hanging off ledges.” The Waccamaw at Conway was at 7.8 feet at 6 p.m. Thursday and making good tides.

Large shrimp showing up in S.C. waters

February 4, 2017 blogs Comments Off on Large shrimp showing up in S.C. waters

The end of the commercial shrimping season saw surprising catches of jumbo shrimp through the month of January in local waters.
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

White shrimp weighing in at 10-12 count per pound? In late January?
That is exactly how the 2016-17 commercial shrimping season in South Carolina state waters wound up earlier this week, at the end of January.
The season typically closes by mid-January but excellent catches of jumbo shrimp by trawlers kept it open later.
“I’ve had people tell me they’ve never seen big shrimp like this out there this time of year,” Mel Bell, Director of the Office of Fisheries Management for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, said on Thursday. “It’s been an unusual close to the season. It’s normally closed by mid-January, and if it’s a colder winter, maybe earlier.
“We’ve never seen that phenomenon of those large shrimp offshore. I’ve talked to fishermen who have been in the industry for decades and they’ve never seen anything like that.”
Provisional areas, described by Bell as “little pieces of the general trawl zone 2 1/2 to 3 miles off the coast that we can open and close as we see fit,” will remain open until 7 p.m. Monday.
The winter of 2016-17 has been a mild one thus far, and the ocean water temperature reflects that, likely causing the shrimp to hang around.
On Thursday afternoon, the Cherry Grove Pier reported a surface water temperature reading of 56 degrees.
“I think it just has a lot to do with water temperature and it could be in part that we’ve had a couple warm winters in a row,” said Bell. “Our spawning crop last year in the spring was the largest we’ve ever seen. That could contribute to this as far as the number of shrimp out there.
“Then you throw a hurricane in the mix, and what does that do? I have no idea but (the shrimpers) have been doing good off McClellanville, Charleston and Georgetown. (Shrimpers) weren’t quite as productive to the south and we wanted to leave (the provisional areas) open (until Feb. 6) to give those to the south a chance at them.”
Bell feels the white shrimp have found conditions they like and haven’t headed south like normal.
“What some of the shrimp folks tell me is the shrimp will move to water temps they like,” said Bell. “Our big shrimp would usually now be heading south to Florida but our waters right now are kind of like Florida winter waters. It may very well be the shrimp are here and they’re not feeling the urgency to move south.”
Earlier in the season, shrimp were found farther north than normal, even in Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay, an area Bell is very familiar with.
“This is real anecdotal information, but there have been shrimp in Chesapeake Bay caught off docks,” said Bell. “I lived there quite a while and shrimp don’t usually occur that far north. I can’t recall shrimp being reported in Chesapeake Bay or off Virginia.”
SALTT Seminar
If you’re up early on a cold, blustery Saturday morning, there’s still time to catch a super seminar.
The Student Angler League Tournament Trail is hosting a fundraising fishing seminar Saturday at St. James Middle School.
Nine 20-minute seminars covering a variety of topics – both saltwater and freshwater – will be staged, beginning at 8 a.m.
St. James Middle School is located at 9775 St. James Road, Myrtle Beach, SC, 29588.
For more information, visit www.salttfishing.com.

Fishing report for February 3, 2017

February 3, 2017 Blog, blogs Comments Off on Fishing report for February 3, 2017


Photospin.com

Breezy, cooler conditions hampering some fishing results

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

Estuary
Look For: Black drum, red drum, spotted seatrout, flounder, sheepshead, tautog.
Comments: Fishing action has slowed a bit this week, with breezy and cooler conditions early in the week hampering angler effort. Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters went out for a few hours on a fun-fishing trip Sunday on a cold, blustery day. At high tide, Kelly and company caught several black drum while tossing shrimp around docks in the Little River vicinity. The water temperature has remained warm enough for spotted seatrout to remain active, plus red drum are schooled up in their winter mode. Trout, black drum, tautog, sheepshead and red drum are all possibilities at area jetties.
Inshore
Look For: Black sea bass, sheepshead, black drum, tautog, whiting, croaker.
Comments: The Painkiller crew braved a cool, windy afternoon for the regular Wednesday trip and headed to the near-shore reefs where they found a water temperature of 48 degrees. The crew, including Dr. Jason Rosenberg and Capt. Jay Sconyers, used fiddler crabs to catch sheepshead, including one in the five-pound range, plus caught a large saucereye porgy, a cousin of the sheepshead. Undersized black sea bass (13-inch minimum size limit, 7-fish per person) and black drum were also on the catch list. Small whiting, croaker and black drum are the main desirable catch from Grand Strand piers, with spotted seatrout also a possibility, but action is generally slow. Ronnie Goodwin reported a surface water temperature reading of 56 degrees late Thursday afternoon at Cherry Grove Pier, and 54 degrees on the bottom.
Offshore
Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, porgy, triggerfish, grunts, amberjack.
Comments: Offshore action has been curtailed by consistently windy weather. But wahoo are there for the taking by trolling boats when conditions permit, along with blackfin tuna. Bottom fishing is excellent for vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grunts, red porgy and amberjack. The annual Shallow-water Grouper Spawning Season Closure is in effect through April 30 and red snapper cannot be harvested and must be released in the South Atlantic region.
Freshwater
Look For: Crappie, bream, bass, catfish.
Comments: The Waccamaw River at Conway was at 8 feet Thursday at 4 p.m. and making good tides, making for good fishing conditions. Crappie are hitting minnows around brush and other structure, and bream are taking worms and nightcrawlers on the bottom. Eels and large shiners will work for catfish and bass are hitting crankbaits and plastic worms. The Little Pee Dee at Galivants Ferry remains up, at 7.9 feet Thursday at 4 p.m.