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How is the cold weather affecting Grand Strand Fishing

January 20, 2018 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on How is the cold weather affecting Grand Strand Fishing

Custom Outdoor Furniture Capt. Lin Fore of LowCountry Expeditions Guide Service shows off a red drum caught in the Winyah Bay vicinity on Tuesday. Photo courtesy Gul-R-Boy Guide Service
With fish kills wreaking havoc in Charleston County, how is the Grand Strand faring?

By Gregg Holshouser

For The Sun News

January 19, 2018 04:32 PM

Updated January 19, 2018 04:35 PM

On the heels of the prolonged Arctic blast of early January, concern over how saltwater species – namely spotted seatrout – are able to survive the cold water temperatures is at an all-time high on the Carolina coast.

When the water temperature remains below 48 degrees for prolonged periods of time, trout and other estuarine species can be stunned or killed by the cold water.

The water temperature at Customs House on Charleston Harbor dipped below 48 degrees on Jan. 3 and has been below that benchmark since. From Jan. 6 through most of the day on Jan. 10, the reading was below 43 degrees.

From reports, only sporadic dead fish have been found in the Grand Strand area, a dead trout in Murrells Inlet and a few trout and sheepshead in Pawleys Island.
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From Bulls Bay in Charleston County and points south, reports of fish kills have been more dramatic.

Dr. Joey Ballenger of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources notes dead red drum, trout, sheepshead and black drum along with forage fish menhaden and mullet have been found.

Ballenger notes that small brackish water impoundments have been especially hard hit.

Locally, a few anglers have been out on the chilly waters from Georgetown County to Brunswick County, N.C., to check on the status of species such as spotted seatrout, red drum and black drum.

Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown has made a point over the last 12 days, starting on Jan. 8, to get out on his home water in the Winyah Bay vicinity to survey the situation, look all over for dead fish and, of course, see what’s biting.

“I have been from a mile above the freshwater line in the tributaries above Winyah Bay, through the bay and south to the Santee rivers and I have not seen any dead fish,” said McDonald. “I have been in 39-degree water to 46-degree water.

“I saw scores of mullet in the shallow water, in the creeks, and as I started easing the boat along I saw small black drum, reds and mullet. The mullet schools were so thick there could have been some trout in with them and I missed them.”

As for fishing, McDonald and fellow captain Lin Fore of LowCountry Expeditions Guide Service actually had a super day on Tuesday, catching and releasing 81 red drum.

The duo caught the reds on plastic grubs, but McDonald wouldn’t be specific at all on where the fish were caught.

“Between the jetties and Conway,” McDonald said with a laugh. “The fish all looked very healthy, and they fought like tigers. I can’t speak for what’s happening in Charleston but for here it’s on, the redfish bite is on.”

While McDonald and Fore found plenty of red drum, they didn’t find any trout, dead or alive.

“Through the middle of December, I was catching a lot of trout but they started leaving. My trout had moved,” said McDonald. “I think they felt this thing coming on and they hauled ass. Some went into the ocean and some of them went up the rivers. What I’m seeing on my depth finder won’t bite, but I’ve gotten some of the prettiest marks (on the depth finder) you’ve ever seen in brackish water.”

Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions went out on his Murrells Inlet stomping grounds on Monday and continued to see 41-42 degree water, but no dead fish, although he has heard of a few in Pawleys Island.

“I haven’t seen any (dead fish) personally,” said Connolly, who noted red drum were the only species he encountered.

“I did see some nice reds in shallow water, two feet of crystal clear water,” said Connolly. “They were 20- to 30-inch reds, swimming around trying to stay warm in the sun.”

Connolly did manage to catch a few red drum.

“I caught a few reds but not many,” said Connolly. “Sometimes they don’t want to eat. All the fish I caught, I couldn’t see them.”

Connolly observed water clarity of 5-6 feet, excellent for South Carolina’s coast, and also noted that “snot grass,” an algae that accumulates on the bottom each winter in Murrells Inlet, has started to show up.

Farther north, Capt. Brant McMullan of Ocean Isle Fishing Center in Ocean Isle Beach, N.C., consulted several of his numerous fishing contacts and had heard of no fish kills in the Brunswick County, N.C. area.
S.C. DNR recommendation

As a precautionary measure, S.C. DNR is asking anglers to practice catch and release of all spotted seatrout through the end of September.

“Seatrout numbers have been above average in South Carolina in recent years,” said S.C. DNR spokesperson Phil Maier. “We hope that strong starting point, combined with voluntary conservation efforts by anglers, will help the fish recover quickly.”

Spotted seatrout suffered cold winter kills in 2010-2011, 2009-2010 and 2000-2001. Voluntary catch and release was encouraged after these winters, and full recovery took several years in each case.

S.C. DNR biologists expect to see fish kills for some time and continue to welcome all public reports.

Sightings of dead or lethargic fish can be reported to Ballenger at Please include detailed information about the location, date, species, and number of animals seen.
Inlet tragedy

The Murrells Inlet fishing community has suffered another loss, with the untimely death of David “Big Dave” Altman, owner/operator of Big Dave’s Bait & Tackle in the inlet.

More information on Big Dave will be included in next week’s column.

Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown shows off a red drum caught in the Winyah Bay vicinity on Tuesday. Photo courtesy Gul-R-Boy Guide Service

Boat show hits the Grand Strand

January 13, 2018 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Boat show hits the Grand Strand

Custom Outdoor Furniture These two fishing-related events make Myrtle Beach the place to be next weekend
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The 35th annual Grand Strand Boat and Sportsman Expo, a January staple for Myrtle Beach, will be staged at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center Friday through Sunday (Jan. 19-21). JASON LEE

By Gregg Holshouser

For The Sun News

Next weekend will be a big one on the outdoors scene in the Myrtle Beach area, but all the action will be indoors.

The 35th annual Grand Strand Boat and Sportsman Expo, a January staple for Myrtle Beach, will be staged at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center Friday through Sunday (Jan. 19-21).

On Saturday (Jan. 20), the Salt Water Sportsman National Seminar Series, hosted by renowned angler George Poveromo, makes a stop at the Conference Center at Barefoot Resort in North Myrtle Beach.

The two super events aren’t mutually exclusive when they coincide next Saturday, as Poveromo’s seminar is set for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., while the Expo’s hours are from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

In fact, Kevin Bennett, coordinator of the Expo, encourages those attending the Salt Water Sportsman Seminar to head over to the Grand Strand Expo afterward, and receive $2 off the $8 admission for adults.

Following are details on the two events.
Grand Strand Boat and Sportsman Expo

While the vendors and seminars are great, the Expo offers a varied display of boats, all under one roof.

“This year we’ve got 16 dealers here for the show, four from Charleston, three from Wilmington (N.C.) and our local dealers,” said Bennett. “We have something for everyone – jon boats to high 30-foot fishing machines. A 36-foot center console is going to be there.”

Bennett stresses, with 16 dealers under one roof, there is no better place to compare shop than at the boat expo.

“If you are serious about boating and there’s a boat in your future, there’s no better place to look at the all choices in one location,” Bennett. “There really are deals to be found at the boat show. The boat dealers come up with incentives for the show. They’re trying to start their new year to see where they’re going to be with their sales.”

Bennett notes that many new boat models are becoming more versatile, particularly center consoles and pontoon boats.

“A lot of the center console-type boats are becoming more family friendly,” said Bennett. “A lot of the manufacturers are making them into a hybrid, do-all type boat – fish, ski and cruise. There are some really nice pontoon boats out there right now with some nice really amenities like TVs and slides incorporated into them. That technology follows along with making them more family-friendly.”

Some attendees visit the boat show primarily for the seminars, and Bennett has a varied schedule set up with numerous highly-regarded local captains included in the lineup.

“It amazes me the people who come to listen to certain speakers,” said Bennett. “We’ve had to add more chairs to the seminar areas.”
National Seminar Series

The Salt Water Sportsman National Seminar Series debuted in 1988 and is in its 31st year of touring the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

This year’s South Carolina stop lands at the Conference Center at Barefoot Resort in North Myrtle Beach next Saturday (Jan. 20) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The wide-ranging seminar will be hosted by George Poveromo, host of George Poveromo’s World of Saltwater Fishing on the NBC Sports Network, and Editor-At-Large for Salt Water Sportsman magazine.

Poveromo’s sidekick for the seminar will be “Crazy” Alberto Knie, a shallow-water and land-based expert in targeting redfish, flounder and tarpon.

“The National Seminar Series has become the nation’s longest-running and most popular educational course on recreational marine angling tactics and techniques,” said Poveromo. “This is year number 31 for the tour and the backbone to its success has always been the vast amount of cutting edge and pertinent how-to information on catching more and bigger game fish within the waters of the respective Seminar Series stop.

“This information is explained in great detail by some of the very best saltwater anglers, and each session is backed by elaborate visuals that include video bytes, technical and action-oriented images and on-stage demonstrations.”

The seminar speakers include well-known local and regional captains and experts:

Capt. J Baisch: Murrells Inlet’s Baisch is an inshore and near-shore light tackle fishing specialist, operator of Fishfull Thinking Guide Service.

Capt. Jamie Hough: Charleston-based Hough, of Redfish Mafia Charters, is a redfish pro with over 22 years of experience fishing South Carolina’s coastal waters.

Capt. Danny Carey: Carey, operator of Careyon Charters, is a Myrtle Beach-based offshore fishing and trolling expert, specializing in wahoo.

Capt. Jim Clark: Hilton Head Island’s Clark, of Stray Cat Charters, is an authority on cobia, sheepshead, spadefish and near shore wreck/bottom fishing.

Capt. Butch Foster: Foster runs Yeah Right Sportfishing Charters out of Southport, N.C., and specializes in bottom fishing.

Capt. David Wicker: Wilminton, N.C.’s Wicker is a marine electronics specialist and king mackerel tournament pro.

Capt. Mike Goodwine: Goodwine, of Blackneck Adventure Fishing Charters, is a noted Tampa, Fla.,-based expert at catching redfish and sea trout.

Dee Kaminski: Kaminski, of Reel Kayak Fishing, is a Florida-based kayak, artificial lure and sight-casting expert for redfish, black drum, flounder and seatrout.

Dr. Mitchell Roffer: Roffer is the nation’s leading authority on locating productive water surface temperature breaks and ocean-circulation features for near-shore and offshore game fish.

Tickets to the seminar are $55, which includes numerous accessories and admission to an After Seminar Party at Bass Pro Shops from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Poveromo notes that thousands of dollars in door prizes will be awarded, plus a top prize of a Florida Keys fishing trip. All attendees will be entered in a drawing for the seminar series grand prize, a new Mako ProSkiff 17.

For tickets in advance, call 1-800-448-7360 or visit

Gregg Holshouser:

Grand Strand Expo

What: 2017 Grand Strand Boat and Sportsman Expo

Where: Myrtle Beach Convention Center, 2101 N. Oak Street, Myrtle Beach.

When: Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Admission: Adults $8, Seniors 65 and over $7, Children under 12 $5, Children under 3 Free.

Grand Strand Expo Seminar Schedule


11 a.m.: Boating Basics, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Noon: Kayak Fishing The Low Country, Mike Eady.

1:30 p.m.: Inshore Fishing Carolina Style, Capt. Mike McDonald.

3 p.m.: Techniques for Carolina Kings, Capt. Jason Burton.

4:30 p.m.: Why I Catch More Fish, Capt. Eric Heiden.


10:30 a.m.: Kayak Fishing Techniques, Mike Eady.

Noon: Inshore Fishing Carolina Style, Capt. Mike McDonald.

1:30 p.m.: The King Slinger, Capt. Jason Burton.

3 p.m.: Catch More Fish The Inshore Way, Capt. Lin Fore.

4:30 p.m.: My Secrets To Catching More Fish, Capt. Eric Heiden.


10:30 a.m.: Safety On The Water/VHF Radios, U.S. Power Squadron.

11:30 a.m.: Know Your Tackle-Catch More Fish, Capt. Eric Heiden.

12:30 p.m.: Fishing The Low Country of S.C., Capt. Lin Fore.

1:30 p.m.: Inshore Fishing Carolina Style, Capt. Mike McDonald.

3 p.m.: The Master Of The Cast Net, Capt. Jason Burton.

Salt Water Sportsman National Seminar Series Info

What: Salt Water Sportsman National Seminar Series, hosted by George Poveromo.

Where: The Conference Center at Barefoot Resort, North Myrtle Beach.

When: Saturday, Jan. 20, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Admission: $55, includes admission to seminar, numerous accessories and admission to an After Seminar Party at Bass Pro Shops from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Effects of cold weather linger

January 12, 2018 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Effects of cold weather linger

Swamps near Conway are covered with a sheet of ice last week in the wake of Winter Storm Grayson. Under the ice, the welfare of various fish species remains a concern. JASON LEE
Fishing report: Optimism, lots of cold water left in wake of historic Arctic blast

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
January 11, 2018 07:12 PM

Updated January 11, 2018 07:31 PM

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

Comments: Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions fished Murrells Inlet Tuesday and Wednesday and came back with good news for anglers concerned about impacts from the recent spate of cold weather. “I’ve not seen any dead or stunned fish, thank God,” said Connolly. “I think a lot of these fish made it out on the reef and are hugging on the reefs in 30 to 80 feet of water.” Connolly caught only red drum in the inlet, and hasn’t seen any spotted seatrout or black drum. As of Wednesday, the water temperature remained very cold. “The water’s still super cold,” Connolly said. “It was 40 degrees in the morning on a lower tide and when the tide came in it heated up a little bit to 43-44 (degrees).” The reds Connolly caught sluggishly ate cut shrimp and mud minnows fished on the bottom. Joseph C. Ballenger, assistant marine scientist with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR), reports the only dead fish found from Georgetown to Little River were mullet and menhaden on the north end of the Grand Strand near the beginning of the cold weather spell. Ballenger has received scattered reports from areas further south of dead red drum, spotted seatrout, sheepshead and black drum along with menhaden and mullet. Ballenger notes small brackish water impoundments have been hit especially hard. Anglers are encouraged to release any spotted seatrout caught this winter.

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

Comments: The ocean water remains very cold, as Steve Gann of Cherry Grove Pier reported a reading of 45 degrees Thursday at 3:30 p.m. Gann says a few whiting and perch were caught earlier in the week, but nothing in the last few days. Anglers have been scarce, too. In early January, Gann reports two spotted hake were caught off the pier. The members of the cod family are usually found more to the north and rarely encountered in South Carolina waters. For the rest of the winter, the best bet in the inshore waters will be black sea bass on near-shore artificial reefs. Anglers are reminded black sea bass have a 13-inch minimum size limit with a daily bag limit of seven per person. Weakfish, tautog, sheepshead and flounder are also possibilities on the reefs.

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

Comments: Mid-Town Bistro owner Jeff Martini and his crazy crew aboard Dirty Martini headed out from Little River to see what fishing held in store on the heels of the historic Arctic blast. Trolling in the vicinity of the Winyah Scarp and McMarlen Ledge, the crew was hoping for a solid wahoo bite but found only amberjack and king mackerel. Martini noted another boat trolling in the vicinity caught a few blackfin tuna and, surprisingly, released several sailfish. The Dirty Martini hit the bottom further offshore and caught a commercial 200-pound limit of snowy grouper. When conditions allow, bottom fishing is good for vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, porgy and grunts. The annual Shallow-Water Grouper Spawning Season Closure is in effect through April 30. The Greater Amberjack Fishery is closed for recreational anglers until March. Red snapper are closed in the South Atlantic region and must be released.

Look For: Crappie, bream, bass, catfish.

Comments: Even with a few warm days this week, the cold water isn’t going away soon. “The water’s still frozen in a lot of places, in the creeks and the coves,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. “Places like Kingston Lake and Cox Ferry Lake, there’s still ice all the way across.” Angler activity has been at a minimum also. “I’ve had a handful of people go,” said Stalvey, who reports good catches of crappie on minnows in the Ricefields and Samworth WMA area. With some ice still on the edges and in the swamps, bass action has been slow. “I’ve had one person tell me he caught five (bass), barely keepers,” said Stalvey. “It’s been tough, tough fishing.”