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Black Drum play hard to get

December 9, 2017 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Black Drum play hard to get

Charlie Nash of Garden City Beach shows off a nice spotted seatrout caught on Nov. 30 in Murrells Inlet. Gregg Holshouser For The Sun News
Though black drum were playing hard to get, day on water fruitful in other species

By Gregg Holshouser

For The Sun News

December 08, 2017 04:40 PM

UPDATED December 08, 2017 04:43 PM

The day was tranquil and splendid for the latest autumn excursion with my longtime fishing buddy, Charlie Nash of Garden City Beach.

With I at the bow and Nash at the stern, we eased through Inlet Harbor in his wide jon boat heading to the main creek of Murrells Inlet.

Despite a falling tide that was nearly low, the water clarity was 3-4 feet even in the back of Inlet Harbor, located at the south end of the peninsula of Garden City Beach.

A little after 10 a.m., the temperature on the last day of November was in the low 60s, headed for the upper 60s, with a light, almost calm, northerly wind. A few puffy clouds drifted by to block the sun from time to time.

Absolutely perfect.

Nash reached the main creek and headed north, wound around a few bends and stopped along a Spartina grass-lined bank beside his brother, Fred Nash, Jr., who was already fishing the spot.

With Fred’s approval, we eased up along the bank, about 50 yards away from his boat.

At just the right spot, per Charlie Nash’s instruction, I dropped the anchor about 100 feet off the bank.

A bait bucket loaded with live shrimp powered by a battery-operated aerator sat in the middle of the boat, within reach of us both.

With the tide nearly low and little current, we tossed out live shrimp on weighted, 1/32-ounce jig heads on 12-pound spinning tackle, the same setup used for yellowtail fishing in the Florida Keys.

To start, every live shrimp was eaten by bluefish, black drum under the 14-27-inch slot limit and a flounder under the 15-inch minimum size limit.

Soon, the tide began rising, and the black drum bite took off, all still undersized. About an hour after low tide, the trout began to show up, with our limit of one weakfish each landing in the cooler, including one approaching 20 inches.

As the rising tide really got rolling, so did the action of spotted seatrout, known locally as winter trout.

As the current and depth increased along the bank, the jig heads were no longer getting deep enough, and Nash switched to his float rigs, long a Murrells Inlet staple consisting of a medium-size torpedo float with a rubber stop to adjust the depth.

With the live shrimp about four feet down in about six feet of water, we tossed the rigs out and let them drift with the current. Like clockwork, about 60 yards downstream the float would go down in response to a trout bite.

Over the next couple hours we caught trout after trout with plenty of black drum mixed in. In the end, we took home the two weakfish and 11 spotted seatrout.

Despite our best efforts, including fishing closer to the bank and just off the bottom, we couldn’t find the larger black drum, although we caught and released over 20 in the 11-13 inch range.

Back at the cleaning table, the results were a sizable bag of filets, plenty for a fish fry or two to enhance the Christmas season.

Charlie Nash, along with his older brother Fred, Jr., and younger brother, Skeeter, have a long history of fishing along the Grand Strand.

The Nashs grew up near Springmaid Beach on the south end of Myrtle Beach, and spent much of their spare time on the beach or in the water.

Beginning in the mid 1950s, the brothers would push a small boat into the surf and past the breakers to go fishing. First using oars, then a small outboard, they caught weakfish and black sea bass among other species on the hard-bottom area located between the Springmaid and Myrtle Beach State Park piers.

Charlie Nash, now 76, was also a lifeguard as a teenager at Springmaid Beach in the early 1960s.

With over 50 years experience fishing along the Grand Strand and in Murrells Inlet, it’s no wonder Nash is so dialed in to exactly where and when to catch fish in the waters of the fishing village.
Speckled Studs Trout Tournament

This tournament was held last Saturday out of Murrells Inlet and featured an all-release format.

The team of Englis Glover and Tony Carter won first place in the two-trout aggregate category plus weighed in the largest trout. The duo of Jason Burton and Rachel Baldassare finished second, and also weighed in the largest drum.

Nick Skodras and Dan Connolly were third, the father-son duo of Peter and Cullen Gerace were fourth, and Tommy Werner and Taylor Tillman were fifth.

All fish that were weighed in were released alive.

Gregg Holshouser displays a 14-inch flounder caught on Nov. 30 in Murrells Inlet before releasing the fish. Charlie Nash Submitted photo

Cold weather chills fishing.

December 8, 2017 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Cold weather chills fishing.

Dennis Caruso tosses a line from the Myrtle Beach State Park Pier earlier this year. Janet Blackmon Morgan
Fishing report: Late autumn cold front puts chill on fishing activity

By Gregg Holshouser

For The Sun News

UPDATED December 07, 2017 08:55 PM

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

Comments: Well, it was great while it lasted. Right on cue with the arrival of December, the superb autumn weather of the last few weeks was swept aside by a cold front Wednesday, sending temperatures and angler activity plummeting. Before the front, fishing was fantastic, especially for spotted seatrout and black drum. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown caught 14 trout, all above the 14-inch minimum size limit, along with several red drum on a Sunday trip in Winyah Bay. McDonald noted a water temperature of 59 degrees, but trending down. All of the fish were caught on plastic grubs. On the north end, Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters ran a trip on Monday and caught four species — trout, black drum, sheepshead and red drum. The trout were most numerous, and Kelly caught them floating shrimp along the ledges of the Intracoastal Waterway in Little River on a falling tide. Kelly caught some of the fish, mainly black drum, on live shrimp presented on the bottom on jig heads.

Look For: Weakfish, black sea bass, whiting, croaker, black drum, bluefish.

Comments: Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters in Murrells Inlet hit the beach, that is hard-bottom areas in the ocean north of the inlet, on back-to-back trips Tuesday and Wednesday. Maples found plenty of weakfish holding in the area with numerous nice whiting mixed in. The near-shore artificial reefs such as Paradise and Jim Caudle are producing good numbers of black sea bass, plus weakfish and flounder. The number of keeper black sea bass on hand above the 13-inch minimum size limit should increase with the decrease in water temperature. Ronnie Goodwin of the Cherry Grove Pier reports whiting and croaker were the top catch before the cold front arrived, although most fish were small. Goodwin also noted an occasional black drum in the 10-inch range has been caught, plus a few bluefish. Goodwin observed a water temperature of 60 degrees Wednesday afternoon, but by Thursday at 3 p.m. had dropped to 59 degrees on the surface and 58 on the bottom. Don’t expect the 60-degree water temperature mark to be reached again along the beach until March or April.

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

Comments: On Sunday, Capt. Danny Carey of Careyon Charters took advantage of good seas to troll an area just north of the Georgetown Hole. The crew finished the day with six wahoo including a 55-pounder, six blackfin tuna including a 20-pounder, four kings including a 35-pounder, and one dolphin. For an extra thrill, the crew released a sizable sailfish. Carey observed a water temperature of 79 degrees in the vicinity. “I’ve never seen the water that warm out there in December,” said Carey. The largest wahoo was caught on a high-speed trolling lure and two hit rigged mullet on a downrigger. The rest of the fish hit trolled ballyhoo, most combined with Bluewater Candy skirts. The additional weekend of the red snapper mini-season is set for Friday through Sunday (Dec. 8-10) for recreational anglers, with seas looking rough but fishable. The limit is one red snapper per person per day with no minimum size limit. Bottom fishing is excellent for vermilion snapper, black sea bass, grouper, red snapper, triggerfish, porgy and white grunts especially in depths over 100 feet. 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.

Look For: Crappie, bream, bass, catfish.

Comments: “I’m not sure what this weather’s going to do, but it’s been good up until today,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway on Wednesday. The rivers, especially the Pee Dee system, have been low, with the Little Pee Dee at 3.79 feet Wednesday at 3 p.m. at Galivants Ferry. “I’m kind of glad we’re getting some rain to raise the levels up a little bit,” Stalvey said. Stalvey pointed to excellent crappie fishing as fall turns into winter, with fish hitting minnows, jigs and beetle spins. Lead-lining on the bottom with nightcrawlers or red worms is the preferred method for catching bream, with Stalvey recommending a two-hook rig. Stalvey reports great bass action, as a five-bass limit of over 14 pounds won the Pee Dee Bassmasters’ monthly tournament out of Bucksport. Stalvey said crankbaits, Texas-rigged worms and craw baits working well.

Nicer weather brings out the fish

December 2, 2017 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Nicer weather brings out the fish

Gene Ward of Conway lands a pin fish on the pier at Myrtle Beach State Park. Myrtle Beach residents and visitors can find a natural retreat at Myrtle Beach State Park where guests have access to the beach, fishing pier, a lush maritime Forest and many other attractions. Jason Lee
Fishing report: Tranquil seas producing potential for great offshore action

By Gregg Holshouser

For The Sun News

November 30, 2017 04:18 PM

UPDATED December 01, 2017 06:36 PM

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

Comments: Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service has been known to downplay his catches, so it is of note when the captain says “It’s been kind of good.” McDonald had a couple stellar days this week on Winyah Bay, catching numerous spotted seatrout on plastic grubs on 1/8 or 1/4-ounce jig heads. “It doesn’t seem to make any difference what color,” said McDonald, who noted a water temperature of 55-57 degrees. On the Wednesday trip, McDonald’s crew also caught five red drum, including three keepers within the 15- to 23-inch slot limit, also on grubs. McDonald said the trout ranged up to 18 inches in size. Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters in Little River took a trio of old fishing buddies out Tuesday and had great success on a rising tide with trout and black drum. The crew caught the black drum on live shrimp fished on the bottom on a 1/4-ounce jig head. The trout were landed on live shrimp fished on adjustable-depth torpedo floats. The crew also caught flounder on Vudu shrimp. “Fishing’s been excellent,” said Kelly. Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters in Murrells Inlet had a super catch of a dozen trout and six black drum while floating live shrimp in the creeks of the inlet earlier this week.

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

Comments: There is still activity in the surf line as December arrives. “It was real active last weekend with a lot of little stuff,” said Steve Gann of Cherry Grove Pier. On into the week, catches of whiting, croaker and pompano have come in off the pier plus a few keeper flounder. While most of the whiting have been small, there have been some bull whiting caught. Gann noted an ocean water temperature of 60 degrees Wednesday afternoon. Maples ventured out to a hard-bottom area off Surfside Beach and found weakfish active. “The weakfish are still thick as thieves,” said Maples. Artificial reefs such as Paradise and Jim Caudle are holding numerous black sea bass, most under the 13-inch minimum size limit with a few keepers, plus weakfish and flounder.

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

Comments: Jeff Martini of Mid-Town Bistro in North Myrtle Beach and his crew aboard Dirty Martini headed out 70 nautical miles to the 100/400 area Tuesday, riding on slick seas. The crew found 77-degree water, a mix of blue and green, and plenty of bait stacked from the bottom to the middle of the water column. They also found wahoo, and caught eight ranging in size from 30 to 60 pounds, plus a 20-pound king mackerel and a dolphin. Martini noted they trolled ballyhoo, with purple/blue skirts the hot color. Capt. Danny Carey of Careyon Charters out of Murrells Inlet hit the Winyah Scarp on Tuesday, and came home with five wahoo and 10 blackfin tuna. Capt. Shane Bashor of Side Kick Charters headed out to 80 feet of water in the Parking Lot vicinity earlier this week for a full-day combo trip. First, Bashor trolled to produce 10 king mackerel and several bonito before switching to the bottom. The bottom fishing was very productive as his crew caught a pair of gag grouper in the 17-18 pound range, released a pair of red snapper plus caught numerous vermilion snapper, black sea bass and white grunts. The Greater amberjack fishery is closed to harvest for recreational anglers and will remained closed 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.

Look For: Bream, catfish, bass, crappie.

Comments: The rivers remain low and fishing success is high. The Waccamaw River at Conway continues to make good tides, with a water level reading of 6.47 feet on a rising tide at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday. The Little Pee Dee at Galivants Ferry remains low, at 3.82 feet Wednesday at 6 p.m. Bream catches have been good, lead-lining worms on the bottom. Crappie catches are superb with fish hitting crappie minnows around brush or other structure in creek mouths and lakes. Catfish are hitting cut eels, mullet or live bream.