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Bluefish and Mackerel are approaching

March 22, 2019 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Bluefish and Mackerel are approaching

Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions shows off a red drum caught earlier this week in Murrells Inlet in chilly weather. Photo courtesy of O-Fish-Al Expeditions

Grand Strand Fishing Report: The arrival of bluefish and mackerel is approaching

By Gregg Holshouser

March 21, 2019 07:24 PM,

Estuary

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

Comments: The return of cool weather has kept the trout schooled up, says Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions, and Wednesday’s full moon brought the spawners out. All this combined for a gator trout extravaganza Thursday for Connolly’s crew on a trip in Murrells Inlet. “This morning, every fish we caught was 4-7 pounds,” said Connolly, who worked the jetties and the creeks. This week Connolly has also produced red drum both in the 15-23 inch slot limit and over the slot, along with flounder and sheepshead. Prime spring flounder action is coming soon but the cooler weather has held it off, for now. “(Flounder) have an internal clock that tells them when it’s time to migrate, but bait movement and water temperature plays a part too,” said Connolly, who noted a water temperature in the 54-55 range Thursday. With chilly, cool weather most of this week, Connolly is ready for spring to arrive for real. “I’m tired of being cold when we’re fishing,” said Connolly. “I’m ready for some warm weather.”
Inshore

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

Comments: The ocean water temperature topped the 60-degree mark early this week, but not for long. The cool spell ensued, and the temperature settled in at 58 degrees on Thursday at Apache Pier. “We’ve had some pretty good size whiting (caught),” said Skyler Parks of Apache Pier. Parks also noted croaker and puffers have been caught but no bluefish just yet. The near-shore waters in the Atlantic Ocean are in a state of change as baitfish will arrive along with pelagic species such as blues, Spanish mackerel and king mackerel over the next month. For now a variety of species are available on the near-shore artificial reefs including black sea bass, sheepshead, flounder, weakfish and possibly black drum and red drum. Look for bluefish to start the parade of pelagics during the next warm spell, possibly within the next week.
Offshore

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

Comments: An Ocean Isle Fishing Center crew headed offshore Monday in sporty conditions with northeast winds at 15-20 knots for their first day of action in the 2019 S.C. Wahoo Series. Capt. Brant McMullan reports the crew, in a new Freeman Boatworks 37, started at the Winyah Scarp vicinity, fishing in scattered weed and 71-72 degree green water. They moved toward the MacMarlen Ledge where they found a temperature break and decent blue-green water, but caught only false albacore, barracuda and amberjack. The targeted species finally showed up late in the afternoon when they landed a blackfin tuna, went 1 for 2 on small wahoo and capped the day by landing a 35-pound wahoo. Bottom fishing has been very good for vermilion snapper, black sea bass, red porgy, grey triggerfish, white grunts and amberjack. Closures of reef species currently in effect for recreational anglers in South Atlantic waters include the annual shallow-water grouper spawning season closure, and deep-water blueline tilefish and snowy grouper closure until May 1. Red snapper are also off-limits indefinitely and must be released.
Freshwater

Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.

Comments: Well, the rivers continue to be up and the number of anglers out fishing has been down this week, as spring officially arrived on Wednesday. “There’s been some nice fish caught, just not many people going,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. The Waccamaw River was at 9.5 feet Thursday at 12:15 p.m. near Conway while the Little Pee Dee was at 8.3 feet Thursday at 1 p.m. at Galivants Ferry, just under Minor Flood Stage of 9.0. Stalvey says bream are mainly deep in the high water, with anglers focusing on lakes and ditch mouths using worms for bait. A few bream have been caught on crickets, Stalvey says. Bass are beginning to get into bedding mode, and Stalvey reports two fish over seven pounds were released this week. “A bunch of big fish have already been broke off on the beds,” said Stalvey. “This week they ought to be hot and heavy on the beds. I’d use spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, Senko and craw-type baits – anything that imitates a crawfish on the bottom.” Stalvey says catfish are “doing real good” with large shiners, cut shad, nightcrawlers and cut mullet all working well for bait

Red Snapper mini season created

March 16, 2019 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Red Snapper mini season created

Submitted photo

Changes to red snapper mini-season going into effect. Here’s what’s new for 2019

By Gregg Holshouser
March 15, 2019 05:18 PM,

For the third straight year, there will be a recreational mini-season for red snapper in South Atlantic waters but the season will last for five total days, one day shorter than the two previous seasons.

Earlier this month, NOAA Fisheries announced the dates for the 2019 red snapper season will be the weekend of July 12, 13, 14 and again on July 19 and 20.

The limit again is one red snapper per person per day with no minimum size limit and applies to private and charter boat/head boat vessels. The captain and crew on for-hire vessels may also harvest one fish per day.

Access to red snapper has been all but shut down for South Atlantic recreational anglers for nearly a decade now, dating back to 2009 when the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) determined the stock was overfished and undergoing overfishing.

The South Atlantic red snapper fishery was closed in 2010 and a 35-year rebuilding plan was put in place.

Over the last nine years, there have been sporadic mini-seasons, including consecutive seasons in 2017, 2018 and now 2019, but largely the species has been closed to harvest since 2010.

The season lasted for six days in 2017 and 2018, but has been shortened by a day this year because NOAA Fisheries determined the catch by the recreational fishing sector in 2018 exceeded the recreational annual catch limit.

Since NOAA Fisheries estimates the season length based upon catch rates from the previous year, the 2019 season was shortened by one day to reduce the likelihood that the landings would exceed the recreational annual catch limit.

The 2019 recreational catch limit for red snapper in the South Atlantic Region, which stretches from the North Carolina-Virginia line southward through the entire east coast of Florida, is 29,656 fish.

The commercial red snapper season opens July 8 and runs through Jan. 1, 2020 unless the commercial annual catch limit is met before that date. The 2019 commercial catch limit is 12,854 fish.

Capt. Danny Juel, 61, of Fish Screamer Charters has been plying the waters off Little River for about 40 years, as a charter captain and a commercial fisherman. In Juel’s view, the red snapper fishery is in great shape.

“They are literally taking over the bottom in a lot of spots,” said Juel. “There’s tons of them. A lot of places you have to pull off the spot because you can’t keep a bait down trying to catch grouper or (other fish) because of the snapper you’re catching.

“They’re an aggressive fish, and they’re the first ones to the bait. You can stop on a spot and (catch) them as hard as you want to go but you can’t keep them. You have to dodge your snappers is what you’ve got to do.”

In past years, Juel has attended South Atlantic Fishery Management Council meetings to voice his thoughts and observations from the water on the red snapper stock.

“I’ve gone to meetings on numerous occasions,” said Juel, “but I’ve felt like I’ve wasted my breath. I quit going to those meetings about three years ago.”

Juel would like to see a longer red snapper season instead of a few weekends.

“Why don’t you have like a two-week opening rather than sporadic days?” Juel questioned. “I don’t agree with it but obviously it doesn’t matter what I think. I guess at least they’re trying to give us something.”

Trout catch consistent

March 15, 2019 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Trout catch consistent

Capt. Landon Brice shows off a 30-inch spotted seatrout caught while fishing with Capt. Chris Ossman of Captain Smiley Charters in Little River. Captain Smiley Fishing Charters
Grand Strand Fishing Report: The trout catch has been consistent in area estuaries

By Gregg Holshouser
March 14, 2019 06:42 PM,

Estuary

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

Comments: Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters had an excellent trip on Thursday in the Little River vicinity, producing a dozen spotted seatrout, a flounder just under the 15-inch minimum size limit and a few small black drum. “We’ve been consistently catching trout all week on live mud minnows or live shrimp,” said Kelly. “It’s been excellent, actually.” On Wednesday, Kelly had good success with red drum using live shrimp. Kelly’s cohort, Capt. Chris Ossman fished with Capt. Landon Brice and the pair hit the Little River jetties to catch and release two trout measuring 28 and 30 inches on large live shrimp. “Drifting live shrimp at the rocks can be pretty productive,” said Kelly, who noted a water temperature in the 57-58 degree range this week, with some lower 60s in shallow water. On a blustery day Wednesday, Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters hit the creeks of Murrells Inlet and found trout receptive while floating live shrimp. “There’s a ton of trout in the creeks, but not a lot of keepers,” said Maples, who noted the trout were in the 12-13 inch range. The floated shrimp also produced a flounder, again just shy of the 15-inch minimum size limit. After a mild winter, Maples noticed something about the flounder. “He was fat, and this time of year they can be real skinny,” said Maples. Maples noted “snot grass” is thick on the north end of Murrells Inlet, and observed a water temperature of 58 degrees.
Inshore

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

Comments: Spring is on the way, and so are pelagic species such as bluefish, Spanish mackerel, king mackerel and cobia. But they aren’t here yet. Grand Strand piers have been active this week with Spring Break and warmer weather, and Skyler Parks of the Apache Pier reports anglers continue to catch small whiting, croaker, and puffers. Parks noted a Thursday afternoon water temperature of 62 degrees on the surface and 58 on the bottom. Look for bluefish to show up soon, followed by the Spanish, kings and culminating in May with cobia. For now, near-shore artificial reefs are holding black sea bass, sheepshead, black drum, flounder and possibly red drum.
Offshore

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

Comments: Capt. Danny Carey of Careyon Charters headed out Wednesday aboard the 58-foot sportfishing vessel Wasted Time, owned by Wally Lee of Bishopville, in search of wahoo, and they found them. The crew went 8 for 8 on wahoo including a 59-pounder that was weighed into the S.C. Wahoo Series. The other wahoo weighed between 30 and 45 pounds in the Georgetown Hole vicinity. The crew started out high-speed trolling and caught three wahoo, then trolled ballyhoo and caught only bonito and barracuda. They went back to high-speed trolling and landed five more wahoo. Carey noted a water temperature of 72.5 degrees and “sloppy” seas of 5-6 feet. “We didn’t see another boat,” said Carey. Bottom fishing is excellent for vermilion snapper, black sea bass, red porgy and grey triggerfish. Closures of reef species currently in effect for recreational anglers in South Atlantic waters include the annual shallow-water grouper spawning season closure and deep-water blueline tilefish and snowy grouper closure until May 1. Red snapper are also off-limits indefinitely and must be released.
Freshwater

Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.

Comments: Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway looks at the receding water on local rivers and the weather forecast which includes seasonal temperatures and little rain, and knows there is good fishing ahead. “The water is falling back down and the weather looks nice,” said Stalvey. “Fishing is only going to get better from here.” Stalvey suggests targeting bream in holes in 10-15 feet of water using red worms, but knows they will very shortly be moving up on the banks as the water temperature continues to rise. In short, bream are in transition, so take float rods and lead-line rods. Catfish are hitting live shiners and fresh cut shad in deeper water, but as the bream move shallower, so will some of the catfish. Crappie are hitting jigs and medium shiners. “Bass are roaming around and should be on beds any day now, hot and heavy,” said Stalvey, who recommends using spinner baits, chatter baits, shallow-running crank baits and Texas-rigged worms.