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Category Archives: Live Great Outdoors Blog

Seasonable water temps improve fishing

February 16, 2018 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Seasonable water temps improve fishing

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources is asking anglers to practice catch and release of all spotted seatrout (pictured) through the end of September. In North Carolina waters, spotted seatrout are closed to harvest for all fishermen, recreational and commercial, until June 15. The Sun News file photo
Outdoors
Water is warming up, though action remains slow overall; spotted seatrout protected

By Gregg Holshouser

For The Sun News

February 15, 2018 09:56 PM

Estuary

Look For: Red drum, black drum, spotted seatrout, flounder, sheepshead, tautog.

Comments: Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown scoured the whole Winyah Bay area, even south down the Intracoastal Waterway into Charleston County waters, on a Wednesday trip. McDonald and crew caught four red drum and a flounder all on plastic grubs. “We fished everywhere, and caught a fish here and one there,” said McDonald, who released all five fish. “I don’t think we caught a fish on the same color grub.” McDonald noted a water temperature ranging from 50 early in the day rising to 55 degrees in the afternoon at South Island Ferry. Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions in Murrells Inlet ventured over to the northern reaches of Winyah Bay to catch a mix of red drum and catfish. Connolly reported a water temperature of 56 degrees. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources is asking anglers to practice catch and release of all spotted seatrout through the end of September. In North Carolina waters, spotted seatrout are closed to harvest for all fishermen, recreational and commercial, until June 15.
Inshore

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

Comments: Sheepshead lead the action on the near-shore reefs, as Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters found out on a Thursday trip out of Murrells Inlet. Maples’ crew caught a total of 15 sheepshead including three keepers on fiddler crabs, the largest a 7.4-pounder. A 17-inch black drum and several tomtate were in the mix. Dispersing some type of chum is recommended to get the sheepshead worked up on the reefs. Maples reported a water temperature of 51 degrees at the Murrells Inlet jetties. Along the beach, the best news is the water temperature has risen to a more seasonable reading in the lower 50s. Steve Gann of Cherry Grove Pier reported a surface reading of 53 degrees and 52 on the bottom at the pier. Gann noted a few whiting were landed earlier this week, but action overall is very slow.
Offshore

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

Comments: There’s been little fishing activity this week in the offshore waters, with rough seas prevailing. On fishable days, late-winter wahoo action is good for trolling boats with blackfin tuna also around. Bottom fishing is very good as usual for black sea bass, grey triggerfish, vermilion snapper, red porgy and white grunts, among other species. The annual Shallow-Water Grouper Spawning Season Closure is in effect through April 30, the Greater amberjack fishery is closed to harvest for recreational anglers until March, and red snapper are closed indefinitely in the South Atlantic region and must be released.
Freshwater

Look For: Bream, crappie, bass, catfish.

Comments: The rivers are up and fishermen are scarce, but those that are going are catching fish, summed up Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. Stalvey called crappie action “hot and heavy” with fish hitting minnows. Lead-lining for bream continues to work with fish hitting worms. Bass activity is “fairly good” in Stalvey’s view, with fish hitting Texas-rigged worms and crank baits, with spinner baits and chatter baits also working to a lesser degree. A five-fish limit of over 12 pounds won the weekly bass tournament out of Bucksport. Stalvey says cut eel is the prime bait for catfish.

New offshore reefs planned

February 10, 2018 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on New offshore reefs planned

Custom Outdoor Furniture Bob Martore, Scott Whitaker, Gary Keisler and Mike Able stand on the deck of one of two decommissioned tugboats that will soon become deep-water artificial reefs off Georgetown and Charleston. Submitted photo
Outdoors
Pair of reefs, including one off Georgetown, to be established, pending calm seas

By Gregg Holshouser

For The Sun News

February 09, 2018 05:45 PM

Updated February 09, 2018 05:45 PM

Of the 42 reefs in South Carolina’s Marine Artificial Reef Program scattered in the Atlantic Ocean off the Palmetto State coast, only two are in depths of over 100 feet.

Permitted Area (PA) 17, known as the Vermilion Reef and located 27.5 nautical miles east-southeast of the south jetty at Winyah Bay in a depth of 120 feet, and PA 27, located 22.5 nautical miles southeast of Charleston Harbor in 105 feet, are the two reefs over 100 feet deep.

That, however, is set to change, and soon.

A pair of decommissioned tugboats are prepped and ready to be towed offshore and placed on the bottom – a 98-foot tugboat off the coast of Georgetown and a 106-foot tugboat off Charleston. Another similar reef will be placed off the Beaufort-Hilton Head Island area but the material has yet to be secured for that project.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, which manages the Marine Artificial Reef Program, and Coastal Conservation Association South Carolina teamed to put the $200,000 pair of reefs in motion along with CCA’s national marine habitat program, The Building Conservation Trust (BCT), and the Greenville Saltwater Fishing Club.

“These reefs will be some of the deepest reefs we have off the coast,” said Scott Whitaker, Executive Director of CCA SC. “We’re just waiting on weather, we’ve got to have good weather to get them out there.”

Whitaker said the 98-foot tug is sitting in Georgetown, ready to go, while the 106-footer is in Yonges Island, southwest of Charleston, both awaiting calm seas. The tugs will provide 40-45 feet of relief off the bottom.

Once the vessels are in place they provide habitat for reef species such as grouper, amberjack, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, porgy and grunts, with plenty of pelagic species such as king mackerel, cobia and dolphin roaming the vicinity.

“These tugboats will make tremendous additions to our artificial reefs, creating productive habitat for fish and anglers, as well as interesting dive sites for divers,” said Bob Martore, S.C. DNR’s Artificial Reef Coordinator. “We never would have been able to complete these projects without the assistance of CCA SC. We’re looking forward to undertaking many more reef-building projects with CCA SC and BCT in the future.”

The reefs are in a long line of habitat projects CCA SC has helped spearhead in recent years.

“With the completion of these three projects, CCA SC will have reached another milestone in our habitat initiative vision,” said Whitaker. “Eight years ago, these types of projects were simply dreams the organization had when we began our efforts with oyster habitat. Now we are looking at conducting large habitat projects as well as funding scientific finfish research and the monitoring of habitat to help scientists, managers, and anglers improve both abundance and access in our fisheries for the enjoyment of the general public.”
Red Drum Bill

Senate bill S. 933, which has designs on reducing South Carolina’s red drum limits, passed the full Senate Fish, Game and Forestry committee on Wednesday.

Next up is the Senate floor.

“It will be presented to the Senate in the next few weeks,” said Whitaker. “It’s moving along handsomely.”

If it passes the Senate, the bill would head for the House.

If approved, the bill would:

▪ Reduce the daily bag limit for red drum from three per person to two person.

▪ Institute a boat limit of six red drum per day. South Carolina has never had a boat limit on red drum.

The current size slot limit of 15 to 23 inches for red drum would remain the same.

Stayed tuned for the redfish bill’s journey through the S.C. Legislature.

Slow week for fishing

February 10, 2018 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Slow week for fishing

custom outdoor furniture
Jay Sconyers of Aces Up Fishing filled the box with a super catch of black sea bass (an example is pictured), grey triggerfish, vermilion snapper, red porgy and white grunts on a recent fishing trip. CHUCK LIDDY MCT
Outdoors
Offshore bottom fishing, freshwater action highlights week

By Gregg Holshouser

For The Sun News

February 09, 2018 05:21 PM

Estuary

Look For: Red drum, black drum, spotted seatrout, flounder, sheepshead, tautog.

Comments: Another slow week is in the books, with little fishing and very little catching going on in the estuaries. Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions took a group out on Murrells Inlet on Monday, and it was the same story – fish were seen but not caught. “I saw plenty of (5-6 inch) mullet, saw some reds and smaller black drum mixed together, and a lot of snot grass,” said Connolly. “That’s tough when you can see ‘em but can’t catch ‘em.” Connolly did note a water temperature on the cusp of the 50-degree mark. As a precautionary measure, the South Carolina DNR is asking anglers to practice catch and release of all spotted seatrout through the end of September. In North Carolina waters, spotted seatrout are closed to harvest for all fishermen, recreational and commercial, until June 15.
Inshore

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

Comments: “I’ve had some people out fishing but other than a few nibbles, nothing,” said Steve Gann of Cherry Grove Pier. “I haven’t seen anything pulled up in the last few days. But it is February.” Gann noted a water temperature of 49 degrees at 4:15 p.m. Thursday. The best bet for near-shore anglers is to target sheepshead on artificial reefs within 10 miles of the beach. Fiddler crabs are the prime bait, and chumming with barnacles is a wise move. Also look for black sea bass on the reefs, with black drum, flounder, weakfish and tautog also a possibility.
Offshore

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

Comments: The seas calmed for a day on Tuesday, and Capt. Jay Sconyers of Aces Up Fishing took advantage on a bottom-fishing trip out of Murrells Inlet. Sconyers’ crew filled the box with a super catch of black sea bass, grey triggerfish, vermilion snapper, red porgy and white grunts. Meanwhile, Jeff Martini and crew aboard Dirty Martini went deeper, and brought in a load of snowy grouper, plus a golden tilefish in the 40-pound range. Wahoo fishing can be superb in the winter months for trolling boats, with blackfin tuna and perhaps a few dolphin in the mix. The annual Shallow-Water Grouper Spawning Season Closure is in effect through April 30, the Greater amberjack fishery is closed to harvest for recreational anglers until March, and red snapper are closed indefinitely in the South Atlantic region and must be released.
Freshwater

Look For: Bream, crappie, bass, catfish.

Comments: “Not a whole lot have been going, but for those that have, fishing’s been quite phenomenal,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. Bream are hitting worms lead-lined in deep holes. “The prettiest mess I’ve seen came off the Little Pee Dee just fishing deep holes and the lakes,” said Stalvey. Stalvey reported one pair of anglers caught 17 crappie on shiners while fishing a lake near Yauhannah, with the smallest measuring 13 inches. Stalvey reports catfish have been hitting minnows and cut eel. “I haven’t seen any big, big ones, but I’ve seen plenty of good eating-size catfish,” he said. Stalvey reports the top bass catches have been five-fish limits of 15 and 18 pounds in the last few weeks. Stalvey says the effectiveness of crankbaits and spinnerbaits have been off and on, but he did have a suggestion. “When in doubt, throw the worm,” Stalvey said.