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Category Archives: Live Great Outdoors Blog

Weather and fishing warm up

February 24, 2018 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Weather and fishing warm up

Warmer temperatures are here, much to the delight of fish and angler alike
A net-full of hatchery-raised red drum pour into a 300 gallon tank for boat transport to the marshes of Winyah Bay. File photo The Sun News

By Gregg Holshouser

For The Sun News

Estuary

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

Comments: Activity of red drum has picked up in local estuaries with a quick increase in water temperature, thanks to a prolonged stretch of spring-like weather. Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions fished Monday through Wednesday in Murrells Inlet and found good action with red drum. “They’re not easy to find but once you find them and the water’s moving pretty good, they’re hungry,” said Connolly, who cast-netted mullet and used them for cut bait, which pleased the reds. A few reds were caught on mud minnows. Connolly also caught a few black drum and noted a water temperature of 62 degrees on a falling tide. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown had a solid day on Sunday, catching nine reds, including three over the 15- to 23-inch slot, all on plastic grubs in the Winyah Bay vicinity. McDonald also went on a scouting trip Thursday afternoon and observed a 68-degree water temperature in the back of a creek and a 63-degree reading at South Island Ferry in the Intracoastal Waterway. S.C. 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, bluefish, croaker.

Comments: The calendar says February, but the activity along the beach has been more typical of early spring. “Things are starting to pick up,” said Steve Gann of the Cherry Grove Pier on Thursday. “The last few days we’ve had a good number of whiting landed and some blues. They caught a bunch of whiting out there today. Everybody out there today has been happy.” At 4 p.m.Thursday, Gann observed water temperature readings of 59 degrees on the surface and 58 on the bottom. “It’s been active for February,” Gann said. “We shouldn’t see this until mid-March. That’s not to say it’s not going to cool back down.” Sheepshead continue to provide the most action on 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).
Offshore

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

Comments: Jeff Martini and crew aboard Dirty Martini out of Little River had a solid day deep-dropping for snowy grouper on Tuesday. On the way out, Martini noted a water temperature of 68 degrees at the Winyah Scarp. Trolling boats are targeting wahoo and blackfin tuna with success on favorable weather days. Bottom fishing is productive 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: There’s a rise in the rivers, but spring is in the air, and fish are biting. Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway even reports that, with a quickly rising water temperature, bream are beginning to hit crickets along with the winter-time staple of worms. Stalvey reports crappie action continues to be good with fish hitting minnows and beetle spins around structure on points and in coves. The shad run is on, and so is the catfish bite, which means cut shad is a prime bait. Stalvey noted the Ricefields area is currently a top spot for bass, hitting Texas-rigged worms, crankbaits and spinnerbaits. The Waccamaw River at Conway was at 8.36 feet at 4:15 p.m.Thursday, while the Little Pee Dee at Galivants Ferry was at 7.3 feet at 5 p.m.

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.