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Category Archives: Live Great Outdoors Blog

Cooler weather slows fishing

December 22, 2017 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Cooler weather slows fishing

Fishing report: Wahoo, sailfish highlight offshore trolling trips

By Gregg Holshouser

For The Sun News

December 21, 2017 07:18 PM

Estuary

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

Comments: Capt. Jason Burton of Crazy Girl Fishing Charters observed a water temperature of 53-55 degrees in Murrells Inlet on a quick Monday trip, a slight increase over the last week. Burton found spotted seatrout still active, hitting artificials, but the action was not as torrid as a few weeks ago before the big drop in water temperature. Burton also found black drum in deeper holes, plus a few red drum and undersized flounder. On the north end, Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters has switched to all artificials since live shrimp are hard to come by. “If you’ve got live shrimp you’re probably going to wipe (the trout) out,” said Kelly. “We’re using Vudu shrimp, Z-Man, Z-Man trout trick and the good old Electric Chicken.” Kelly also reports red and black drum are hitting fresh shrimp fished on the bottom, with the reds being found in pockets of 4- to 5-foot water around low tide. Jetties at Winyah Bay, Murrells Inlet and Little River are producing trout, black drum, red drum and tautog.
Inshore

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

Comments: Michael Wallace of Cherry Grove Pier reports action has been fairly slow this week with small whiting and a few small black drum being caught. The ocean water temperature is slightly warmer than a week ago, sitting at 54 degrees at both surface and bottom Thursday at 5 p.m. Black sea bass, with a 13-inch minimum size limit, are the best bet on near-shore artificial reefs with weakfish, tautog and flounder also available. On the near-shore hard-bottom areas, weakfish are still active with black sea bass also available.
Offshore

Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, king mackerel, grouper, vermilion snapper, triggerfish, porgy, black sea bass, grunts.

Comments: A window of opportunity presented itself with fantastic sea conditions on Sunday, and plenty of boats took advantage with excellent trolling or bottom-fishing trips. Ocean Isle Fishing Center (OIFC.com) reports a crew fishing with Capt. Roger Gales worked the Winyah Scarp vicinity in depths of 180 feet and caught four wahoo, including a 60-pounder, and three blackfin tuna. Three of the wahoo hit Iland Lure-ballyhoo combos. Sailfish also made a showing on Sunday, with multiple boats hooking up. Surprisingly, the Reel Blessed crew out of Sneads Ferry, N.C., released six sails on the day. Capt. Justin Scott Witten of Ambush Sport Fishing in Murrells Inlet took a crew bottom fishing and produced a phenomenal catch of large vermilion snapper, triggerfish, black sea bass, red porgy and white grunts. Grouper are also available, but can be harvested only through New Year’s Eve. The annual Shallow-Water Grouper Spawning Season Closure will go into effect on Jan. 1 and lasts through April 30. The Greater Amberjack Fishery is closed to harvest for recreational anglers until March 2018. Also, cobia cannot be harvested in 2017 in South Carolina waters (to three miles offshore) or federal waters (beyond three miles) and must be released. Red snapper are closed in the South Atlantic region and must be released.
Freshwater

Look For: Crappie, bream, bass, catfish.

Comments: Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway reports good fishing action remains available for bream, crappie, bass and catfish on the local rivers. Beetle spins, jigs and medium shiners are producing good catches of crappie, with lakes off the rivers in particular holding fish. Bream action is good, lead-lining worms on the bottom. “Bass fishing has been hot,” said Stalvey. “Crank baits are No. 1.” Craw baits and Texas-rigged worms are also producing bass. Catfish action is good on eels, live bream and large shiners.

Third time still isn’t a charm

December 16, 2017 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Third time still isn’t a charm


The final three-day period for a red snapper mini-season for recreational anglers was scheduled for Dec. 8-10, but coincided with a cold front that brought a major bout of wintry weather to the Southeast coast, nearly two weeks before the first day of winter. The Sun News file photo
Outdoors
Weather plays havoc with red snapper mini-season

By Gregg Holshouser

For The Sun News

December 15, 2017 07:22 PM

UPDATED December 15, 2017 07:25 PM

The third and final three-day stretch of the 2017 red snapper mini-season in the South Atlantic region came and went last weekend, and the species came out virtually unscathed.

The three-day opening for recreational anglers was scheduled for Dec. 8-10, but coincided with a cold front that brought a major bout of wintry weather to the Southeast coast, nearly two weeks before the first day of winter.

The cold weather and rough seas stretched from the Carolinas down into north Florida, a stretch where the majority of red snapper are found along the Southeast coast, and fishing for the species was at a bare minimum during the three days.

The original six days of the mini-season (Nov. 3-5, 10-12) also featured predominately rough seas, save for Nov. 3, which led to NOAA Fisheries opening the species to harvest again for the final three days.

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) encourages recreational anglers, including charter and head boat operators, to report any canceled trips using the pilot reporting program at MyFishCount.com.

Reporting the canceled trips could pay off in 2018.

The SAFMC proposed an interim catch level for red snapper at its September meeting that, if approved by the Secretary of Commerce, may allow a red snapper mini-season beginning in July 2018.

Efforts are underway to establish an acceptable biological catch for red snapper and scheduled for review by the council during its June 2018 meeting.

At its meeting Dec. 4-8 in Atlantic Beach, N.C., the SAFMC also moved forward with proposed measures to improve data collection and reduce by-catch of red snapper and other species in the snapper-grouper management complex. Public hearings on the measures will be held in 2018.

The Council also dealt with cobia and red grouper at the meeting.

*Cobia: It was a frustrating year in 2017 for South Carolina anglers wanting to harvest cobia.

The species was closed to harvest in federal waters (beyond three miles offshore) from Georgia to New York and South Carolina has coincided with closures in federal waters since 1996, meaning cobia were also closed in state waters off the Palmetto State.

However, neighboring states Georgia and North Carolina, plus Virginia, did not close the harvest of cobia in state waters.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which manages species in coastal waters from Maine to Florida, has developed an Interstate Management Plan for cobia, which could eventually consolidate cobia regulations in state waters along the Atlantic Coast.

The SAFMC is considering options for transferring management of cobia to the ASMFC, as well as the possibility of complementary management between the SAFMC and ASMFC.

With the status of cobia harvest in 2018 hanging in the balance, public hearings on the matter are scheduled for Jan. 22-24, 2018. The details of the meetings have yet to be determined.

*Red Grouper: The SAFMC reviewed a recent stock assessment for red grouper that shows the species is still overfished and undergoing overfishing.

At the Atlantic Beach, N.C. meeting the council approved measures to significantly reduce both the commercial and recreational annual catch limits for red grouper, from a total catch limit of 780,000 pounds to 139,000 pounds beginning in 2018.

Based on average landings from 2014-16, the recreational fishery for red grouper is projected to close in July 2018 with the reduced catch limit of 77,840 pounds.

Angler’s luck improves

December 16, 2017 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Angler’s luck improves


Anglers hope their luck is a tad better following last week’s cool down. Janet Blackmon Morgan jblackmon@thesunnews.com
Outdoors
Fishing report: Fish and anglers adjust as temperatures in, out of water take a dip

By Gregg Holshouser

For The Sun News
December 14, 2017 07:46 PM

Estuary

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

Comments: With winter weather entrenched over the past week, fishermen out on the water have been few and far between. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown took his boat for a quick, nippy run Tuesday afternoon at South Island Ferry and found the water temperature had dropped to 51 degrees. “Cold, cold, cold,” said McDonald. Spotted seatrout and black drum have provided the most action in recent weeks, and with the water temperature still in the 50s, they should remain active. Also look for red drum schooled up in their winter mode, most likely to be found on the flats. Flounder are also available. Jetties at Winyah Bay, Murrells Inlet and Little River should be holding spotted seatrout, weakfish, black drum, red drum, tautog and flounder. Live shrimp are a top bait for all of these species, floated or fished with Carolina rigs or jig heads on the bottom. Cut shrimp on the bottom will also work, especially for black drum and tautog.
Inshore

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

Comments: On the heels of an extended bout of winter weather, Ronnie Goodwin of Cherry Grove Pier reports that, as expected, the water temperature has taken a plunge. Goodwin observed a water temperature of 53 degrees both top and bottom Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m., a good 5-6 degrees colder than one week ago. Fishing in the surf zone has predictably been slow, with only a few small whiting, croaker and black drum being caught. Black sea bass, with a 13-inch minimum size limit, are the best bet on near-shore artificial reefs with weakfish, tautog and flounder also available. Look for weakfish, black sea bass and whiting on near-shore bottom spots.
Offshore

Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, king mackerel, grouper, vermilion snapper, triggerfish, porgy, black sea bass, grunts.

Comments: It’s been a week to forget in the offshore waters, as rough seas and cold temperatures have kept boats at dock. There is, however, a window of opportunity this weekend, with a decent offshore marine forecast in store for Saturday and even better for Sunday into Monday. Trolling action has been very good of late for wahoo, with blackfin tuna and king mackerel also in the mix. Bottom fishing should be excellent for the weekend with vermilion snapper, black sea bass, grouper, red snapper, triggerfish, porgy and white grunts all available. There are plenty of species that currently must be released, however. The Greater Amberjack Fishery is closed to harvest for recreational anglers until March 2018. Also, cobia cannot be harvested in 2017 in South Carolina waters (to three miles offshore) or federal waters (beyond three miles) and must be released. Finally, red snapper are closed in the South Atlantic region and must be released.
Freshwater

Look For: Crappie, bream, bass, catfish.

Comments: There’s been a change in river fishing as winter weather has set in over the last week. The water temperature has dropped to the low 50s, even the upper 40s, plus rainfall has caused a needed rise in water levels. Still, Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway says “fishing is on fire.” In particular, crappie action has been hot. Stalvey reports that Jason Britt, Phoebe Marie Guest and Jerry Roberson of Socastee had a super day Tuesday on the Great Pee Dee, catching 30 ‘slab’ crappie, all weighing over a pound. The trio caught them trolling beetle spins, on jigs and floating shiners while fishing lakes off the river. Stalvey also notes a limit of bream were landed from the Little Pee Dee, lead-lining red worms on the bottom in 12-16 feet of water. Stalvey says bass action is good on Texas-rigged worms, craw baits and crank baits. Stalvey suggests working lakes, creek mouths, treetops and deep curves for bass. The Waccamaw River at Conway had risen to 7.27 feet at 3:15 p.m. on Wednesday. The Little Pee Dee River at Galivants Ferry was at 7.09 feet at 4 p.m. Wednesday, a rise of over three feet from a week ago.