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Trolling improves as the wind eases

March 16, 2018 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Trolling improves as the wind eases

3 Members of Coastal Carolina University’s Saltwater Anglers Club on a fishing trip. Submitted photo
Outdoors
Trolling should be fruitful once the wind dies down. Fishing seminar Saturday

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

March 15, 2018 06:54 PM

Updated March 15, 2018 07:44 PM
Estuary

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

Comments: Red drum are providing the majority of the action in local estuaries, with the start of the flounder bite still 2-4 weeks away. Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters in Little River had a solid day on Tuesday, targeting reds in shallow water (1-4 feet) in creeks. Kelly and company caught eight reds ranging from 15 to 27 inches on Gulp baits and mud minnows, presented on 1/4-ounce jig heads. “You’ve got to be quiet and sneaky,” said Kelly, who noted a water temperature in the low to mid 50s. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service headed south of Georgetown early this week to find some active reds. On a short trip, McDonald caught five reds all within South Carolina’s slot of 15 to 23 inches, using cut shrimp on the edge of the grass. With the air and water temperature on a virtual roller-coaster since the first days of January, McDonald feels the fish are confused. “They’ve been so messed up since that cold spell (in January) then that warm spell (in February), they don’t know what’s going on,” said McDonald.
Inshore

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

Comments: The story of the week has been the relentless wind of late that has kept boats docked or on trailers. Sheepshead continue to be the best option on the inshore waters, with fish holding on the near-shore artificial reefs. Anglers are reminded there is a daily bag limit of 10 sheepshead per person, a boat limit of 30 per day and a minimum size limit of 14 inches (total length). Weakfish, black drum and flounder are also possibilities on the reefs. The latest ocean water temperature available at Cherry Grove Pier was from Monday, with a reading of 56 degrees, but chilly weather since has dropped it a few degrees. Ronnie Goodwin of Cherry Grove Pier reports only a few small whiting and croaker have been caught, but he did see one surprise. “They’re catching some little bitty whiting and croaker, but I did see about an 8-inch flounder caught,” said Goodwin.
Offshore

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

Comments: It’s been yet another very windy week, meaning boats eager to troll for wahoo and blackfin tuna have had to wait it out. Once again, when the wind dies down, wahoo and blackfin tuna will be around with perhaps a few dolphin also in the mix. Bottom fishing is good for black sea bass, grey triggerfish, vermilion snapper, amberjack, red porgy and white grunts. The annual Shallow-Water Grouper Spawning Season Closure is in effect through April 30 and red snapper are closed indefinitely in the South Atlantic region and must be released.
Freshwater

Look For: Bream, crappie, bass, catfish.

Comments: “There’s hardly any (fishermen) been going this week, but we’ve got a lot of nice weather coming,” said Ronald ‘Catfish’ Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. With another stretch of colder-than-normal weather winding down, Stalvey feels bream have moved back to deeper water and suggests lead-lining worms on the bottom to find them. For crappie, Stalvey said to float minnows “fairly deep” around structure. “Catfish are in deep water in daytime, but at night they are pulling up shallow,” Stalvey said. “A lot of nice catfish have been caught on bush hooks.” With the water temperature back down in the low-to-mid 50s, the spawn is still a ways off for bass. “They’ll start when the water temperature gets a little above 60 degrees,” Stalvey said. For now, Stalvey says bass are hitting shallow-diving crank baits, Texas-rigged worms and spinner baits.
FISHING SEMINAR ON SATURDAY

Coastal Carolina University’s Saltwater Angler Club is staging its ninth annual Spring Fundraising Seminar Saturday at Brittain Hall on the CCU campus in Conway.

The seminars will cover the intricacies of the local saltwater fishing scene from estuary fishing for species such as red drum, spotted seatrout and flounder as well as offshore bluewater trolling for wahoo, dolphin and tuna.

The event is the primary fundraiser for the club, enabling the student members to participate in events such as upcoming party-boat bottom-fishing and offshore trolling fishing trips scheduled for this spring.

“This event is so important to the club because we are able to teach locals (various) styles of fishing that they may have never tried or would like to learn more about,” said James Coleman, Vice-President of the club. “We also love to get club members out fishing who have never had the opportunity to.”

Doors open at 9:30 a.m. at Brittain Hall, located at 23 Chanticleer Drive in Conway, with the seminars beginning at 10 a.m.

The topics and speakers follow:

▪ Bottom/Reef Fishing: Capt Keith Logan of North Myrtle Beach Fishing Charters.

▪ Bluewater/King Mackerel: Capt. Steve Montgomery of Salt Fever in Ocean Isle Beach, N.C.

▪ Inshore: Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters.

▪ Electronics: Capt. Chris Lawhon and Capt. David Christian of Marlin Quay Marina.

Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for all students and include coffee in the morning and a BBQ plate for lunch. Attendees will be entered in raffles for various items such as rods, reels, coolers, gift cards and fishing apparel, highlighted by a 120-quart Yeti cooler.

For more information, contact Coleman at jtcoleman@coastal.edu.

Members of Coastal Carolina University’s Saltwater Anglers Club show off a king mackerel caught in 2016 during the Fall Brawl King Mackerel Tournament at Ocean Isle Fishing Center. The club will host a fundraising seminar on Saturday. The Sun News file photo

Cobia fishing allowed once again

March 10, 2018 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Cobia fishing allowed once again


This popular species of fish once again fair game for anglers

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

March 09, 2018 06:22 PM

Updated March 09, 2018 06:26 PM

After going virtually unmolested during their spring migratory run through South Carolina waters a year ago, cobia are once again fair game for anglers in 2018, at least on the northern portion of the Palmetto State’s coast.

In 2016 the recreational and total annual catch limits of Atlantic migratory group cobia (Georgia to New York) were excessively exceeded, and the 2017 season was sacrificed to account for the overage.

Recreational harvest of Atlantic migratory group was closed in January, 2017 for the remainder of the year in federal waters, which extend beyond three miles offshore.

Since 1996, South Carolina has automatically adopted regulations and closures put in place for federally managed species, meaning cobia could not be harvested in South Carolina state waters either in 2017.

Adding to the frustration for South Carolina anglers in 2017 was the fact that cobia could be harvested in state waters (up to three miles offshore) in neighboring states, North Carolina and Georgia.

But with the 2016 overage accounted for, anglers are now free to harvest one of the brown behemoths known for their dogged fight and as superb table fare.

The month of May, when the cobia migration into and through South Carolina waters reaches a peak, will be a happier time in 2018, at least in the northern portion of the state.

The longtime minimum size limit of 33 inches for cobia is now 36 inches, but the state’s coastline will have split regulations with Jeremy Inlet on Edisto Island serving as the dividing line.

North of Jeremy Inlet, the recreational bag limit for cobia is one per person per day or six per vessel per day, whichever is more restrictive.

South of Jeremy Inlet, the recreational bag limit for cobia is one per person per day and no more than three per boat per day.

In addition, the cobia fishery will be closed for the month of May in state waters south of Jeremy Inlet, where cobia fishing in the estuaries of Port Royal, St. Helena and Calibogue Sounds has been long been a rite of spring.

South Carolina Department of Natural Resources biologists found cobia that enter those bodies of water to spawn in the spring are a genetically distinct population segment that is in jeopardy of collapse due to long-term overfishing. This will mark the third consecutive May the closure has been in effect south of Jeremy Inlet.

Cobia caught in Grand Strand waters are virtually all caught in the ocean, and Capt. Jason Burton of Murrells Inlet Fishing Charters is looking forward to being able to once again harvest them.

“I’m a big fan of the new regulations,” said Burton. “One fish can feed a lot of people. If you harvest a 40-pound (cobia) you can feed the neighborhood.”

During the catch-and-release spring of 2017, Burton was impressed with the cobia he encountered on near-shore reefs. On multiple days, Burton saw a large school of cobia, surprising for a species often found in singles or pairs.

“Some of the stuff I saw last year was amazing,” said Burton. “We had 3-4 days on the reef where we thought they were spadefish, but there were 200-300 of those 20-25 inch cobia. They weren’t big enough to be keepers but big enough to peel off 30 yards of drag and put up a fight for our (customers). One day we caught and released 30-35 of them. They were hitting mud minnows, spoons, anything we threw.

“I’ve never seen schools of cobia like that, maybe that’s a sign the stock is healthy.”

Wind affects fishing all week

March 10, 2018 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Wind affects fishing all week


Wind has been a week-long deterrent to fishing, but some species are available

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

March 09, 2018 11:20 PM

Updated 9 hours 55 minutes ago
Estuary

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

Comments: On a blustery, cool day on Thursday, Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions in Murrells Inlet had a catch that bodes well for the upcoming weeks – a keeper flounder that measured over 16 inches in length. “I’m sure I just got lucky,” said Connolly. “It shouldn’t be long though, spring’s only a week-and-a-half away.” Connolly’s crew had also caught a handful of red drum by midday Thursday, plus he has landed a few black drum on recent trips. “We’ve caught a few nice black drum but it’s still not a very strong black drum bite at all, it’s been mostly reds,” Connolly said. Connolly has mainly found the reds in deeper holes in the creeks, plus around oyster beds and structure. Fresh shrimp and fresh cut mullet, along with artificial grubs have produced the reds. Capt. Ken Salos of Shallow-Minded Inshore Charters in Little River produced trout and reds on a trip earlier this week using Vudu shrimp, Trout Trick and Gulp shrimp.
Inshore
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Look For: Sheepshead, black sea bass, black drum, tautog, weakfish, flounder, whiting, bluefish, croaker.

Comments: Cabin fever abounds for anglers itching to do a little fishing, but the wind has been relentless for the last week to 10 days. Sheepshead are the best option on the inshore waters, but they’ve gone unbothered on the near-shore artificial reefs during the windy stretch. Anglers are reminded there is a daily bag limit of 10 sheepshead per person, a boat limit of 30 per day and a minimum size limit of 14 inches (total length). Michael Wallace of the Cherry Grove Pier reports only a few whiting and croaker have been caught this week, most of them small. The ocean water temperature at the pier was 56 degrees on the surface and 55 on the bottom at noon Thursday.
Offshore

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

Comments: The wind has been relentless over the past week, meaning offshore trolling and bottom fishing has been at a virtual standstill. But when conditions permit, trolling in the month of March can be super for wahoo, with blackfin tuna also in the mix. Look for dolphin to join the fray sometime in April. Bottom fishing is good for black sea bass, grey triggerfish, vermilion snapper, amberjack, red porgy and white grunts. The annual Shallow-Water Grouper Spawning Season Closure is in effect through April 30 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 a little high and the water temperature has cooled to the upper 50s over the last week, but the bream are still biting. Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway reports good catches of a variety of bream, with fish hitting crickets floated off the banks. Also look for crappie hitting minnows around structure in lakes or ditch mouths. Catfish are taking cut shad or eels. The Waccamaw River has a rise in it, with a reading of 8.46 feet in Conway at 11:15 a.m. Thursday. The Little Pee Dee at Galivants Ferry was also a little high, at 6.98 feet at noon Thursday.