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Flounder bill clears another hurdle toward becoming law

April 22, 2017 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Flounder bill clears another hurdle toward becoming law

image: women catching fish

A bill to increase the minimum size limit and lower the daily bag limits for South Carolina’s flounder population was approved by a S.C. Senate sub-committee earlier this week. Submitted photo
April 21, 2017 5:50 PM

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

The bill with designs on increasing the minimum size limit and lowering the daily bag limits for South Carolina’s flounder population is another step closer to being approved by the S.C. General Assembly.
The bill was approved by a sub-committee of the Senate’s Fish, Game and Forestry Committee on Wednesday, and now will go to the full committee. If approved by the full committee, the bill would then go before the Senate.
The bill – which if put into law would up the flounder minimum size limit one inch to 15 inches and decrease the daily bag limits to 10 per person and 20 per boat – was approved by the S.C. House of Representatives in late February before moving to the Senate. South Carolina’s current flounder limits are 15 per person per day with a boat limit of 30 per day to go with a 14-inch minimum size limit.

“The Senate sub-committee asked a lot of questions on the merits of the bill,” said Charles Farmer, who has served as liaison between CCA SC and the S.C. General Assembly for the past 11 years. “It was voted in favor of by the subcommittee and will go to the full committee as early as next week. Right now we feel optimistic that the bill will be voted favorably out of the full committee.”
The bill received unanimous approval by the House in February in a 108-0 vote before heading to the Senate.

“You don’t get that (unanimous vote) very often,” said Farmer, who praised local legislators Sen. Stephen Goldfinch, R-Murrells Inlet and Rep. Lee Hewitt, R-Murrells Inlet for their work in garnering support for the bill.
“The last couple of years we’ve been really focused on flounder because flounder, red drum and seatrout are at the top of the list of fish inshore fishermen go after. They are a really important part of the marine ecosystem.”
Farmer has high hopes that, if the measure becomes law, the one-inch increase in size limit in particular will help the flounder population.
Female flounder first mature at 14 inches and begin substantially contributing to the spawn at 15 inches. Raising the minimum size is designed to increase the number of females that successfully migrate into the ocean to spawn in late fall and winter.
“What will be accomplished, it will in effect save about 29-30 percent of the population every year and allow the population to get to a more sustainable level,” said Farmer. “A 15-inch flounder has a much more productive spawn, much more prolific than a 14-inch flounder. It would have a positive impact on the population over the next 2-4 years.”
Farmer concluded a 36-year career as a marine biologist with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources prior to joining CCA SC in 2006, and has been active in fisheries-related legislation since.
“We try to be very reasonable in what we try to do and still accomplish the conservation effort,” said Farmer. “We try to be proactive, take small steps along the way instead of having to take real draconian measures further down the road.
“In this bill we think we’ve come up with regulations to protect our flounder population and let the fishermen still enjoy the species.”
GSSWA Flounder Tournament
The 16th annual Grand Strand Saltwater Anglers Flounder Tournament will take place Saturday in Murrells Inlet.
The weigh-in for the event will be held 3:30 to 5 p.m. in the parking lot adjacent to the Murrells Inlet public boat ramp.

All hail the King (mackerel that is)

April 22, 2017 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on All hail the King (mackerel that is)

image: ocean bay and beach

Fishing report: King mackerel make an early appearance
April 21, 2017 5:39 PM

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

Look For: Flounder, red drum, spotted seatrout, black drum, bluefish, sheepshead.
Comments: Capt. Mark Dickson reports his Shallow-Minded Inshore Charters guide service has been producing good catches of a variety of species in the Little River area this week. Dickson says Capt. Ken Salos has landed flounder, trout, red drum, flounder and even a 12-pound striper – all on artificials. “There have been more and more flounder, more and more keeper flounder,” said Dickson. “We’re still seeing a bunch of trout and some nice reds (red drum).” Salos has been using vudu shrimp and paddle-tail grubs to catch his fish in areas such as the ICW and Tubbs Inlet. Flounder are the targeted species in Murrells Inlet, where the Grand Strand Saltwater Anglers’ Flounder Tournament will be held Saturday. “There have been reds caught in the inlet, some lingering trout, but everybody’s going for flounder,” said Jessica Perry of Perry’s Bait and Tackle. “Catches have been all over the board, but they’re definitely better in overall size and numbers.”
Look For: King mackerel, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, whiting, croaker, pompano, flounder, weakfish, black sea bass.

Comments: King mackerel showed up in a big way this week with boats bringing in numerous fish caught on bottom spots in depths of 35-40 feet and beyond. But perhaps the biggest splash was made on the beach, specifically at the Cherry Grove Pier on Thursday. Ronnie Goodwin of Cherry Grove Pier reports 14-year-old angler Jax Solley of Boone, N.C., landed a 32-pound, 14-ounce king that hit a bluefish at mid-afternoon Thursday. Solley’s fish was one of three kings that were caught in a stretch of less than two hours. Jules Jaget of North Myrtle Beach landed a king that weighed in at 14-pounds, 12-ounces, and Andrea Garcia, also of North Myrtle Beach, caught a king in the 15-pound range that wasn’t weighed. Goodwin noted the water was clear with a moderate south wind during the flurry, and the water temperature was 72 degrees. Spanish mackerel continue to be caught from the piers, with a bigger grade of fish being found around near-shore bottom spots such as Paradise Reef (three miles east of Murrells Inlet) and Jim Caudle Reef (three miles south of Little River). There are plenty of bluefish, including some big ones, to be found in all areas. The piers are also producing whiting, croaker and flounder. Pompano made a showing at the Apache Pier this week.

Look For: Dolphin, wahoo, blackfin tuna, black sea bass, vermilion snapper, triggerfish, porgy, grunts, amberjack.
Comments: “The mahi (dolphin) are really starting to show up, wahoo are starting to fade away and tuna are still around,” said Capt. Danny Carey of Careyon Charters in Murrells Inlet. “The warmest (water) temperature is 78-79 degrees, but I’m looking for 80 degrees and weedlines. The weedlines are out there. We have been catching some dolphin in 77-78 degree water. It’s shaping up for a good spring mahi season.” Bottom fishing trips have been superb, with vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grunts and porgy topping the catches. The annual Shallow-Water Grouper Spawning Season Closure is almost over, ending on April 30. Red snapper cannot be harvested and must be released in the South Atlantic region.
Look For: Bream, catfish, bass, crappie.
Comments: Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey reports superb bream fishing on the Waccamaw and Great Pee Dee rivers. Look for bream in 1-4 feet of water just off the banks hitting crickets and worms, although most anglers are using crickets. Catfish action has also been very good with fish hitting bream, eel and large shiners. Stalvey reports bass action has slowed a bit. “They are in transition from spawn to post-spawn,” Stalvey said. “They’re in lock-down mode, not wanting to bite. It’s really hard to dial in on them.”

Weather and the action heat up.

April 15, 2017 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Weather and the action heat up.

image: fishing boat

Fishing report: Along with weather, action heating up on area waters
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

Look For: Flounder, red drum, spotted seatrout, black drum, bluefish, sheepshead.
Comments: Action for numerous species is heating up along with the water temperature in local estuaries. On the north end, Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Charters fishes the Little River vicinity and reports red drum are active, mainly slot fish in the 15-19 inch range. Kelly’s crews have been catching spotted seatrout, many under the 14-inch minimum size limit with a few keepers, plus flounder are making the scene. On Wednesday, bluefish were the hot species. “I found a pocket full of bluefish, we threw top-water plugs and caught blue after blue,” said Kelly. “There’s lot of action and plenty of fish to catch.” Kelly is using Berkeley Gulps and mud minnows on 1/4-ounce jig heads plus Vudu shrimp. “I don’t think the flounder are here thick yet,” said Kelly. “We’re starting to catch a few but it’s not like what you’re going to see in Cherry Grove or Murrells Inlet.” Speaking of Murrells Inlet, Jessica Perry of Perry’s Bait and Tackle reports flounder catches have been on the rise this week in numerous areas of the inlet. Catches of red drum have also been good, with Perry reporting limit catches of reds, which have a 15-23 inch slot limit and three-fish per person daily bag limit. Perry also notes trout and bluefish are available. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service noted a water temperature of 67-70 degrees in the Winyah Bay vicinity. On two trips early in the week, McDonald produced trout on plastic grubs and reds on cut shrimp under floats along grass banks.
Look For: Spanish mackerel, bluefish, weakfish, flounder, whiting, pompano, croaker, black drum, black sea bass.
Comments: After late March and the first several days of April offered windy, cool and just plain nasty weather, conditions have been fantastic this week. And that’s all it took for Spanish mackerel to make a strong showing from near the beach to the vicinity of near-shore reefs such as Paradise (three miles east of Murrells Inlet) and Jim Caudle (three miles south of Little River) among others. Weakfish are a nice side catch on the reefs, with black sea bass and flounder also on hand. Trolling Clark or Drone spoons, or mackerel trees on No. 1 planers has been producing fish. Anglers are also catching Spanish, and plenty of bluefish, from Grand Strand piers. Carsten Fischer of Apache Pier reports about one of every five Spanish caught have been keepers. Jigging straw rigs and casting Gotcha plugs have been producing both Spanish and blues. Bottom fishing from the piers is producing improved catches of whiting, croakers and a few flounder. No reports of pompano have come in, but look for them to arrive anytime if they haven’t already. The surface ocean water temperature was 69 degrees at Apache Pier and 71 degrees at Cherry Grove Pier Thursday, and 65 degrees on the bottom at both locations.
Look For: Dolphin, wahoo, blackfin tuna, sailfish, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, porgy, triggerfish, grunts, amberjack.
Comments: The wahoo and blackfin tuna action has been hot in the last few weeks, but when sea conditions turned nice early this week, offshore trolling crews found dolphin had arrived for the spring, along with a few early sailfish. In short, as April turns into May, trolling in areas such as the Winyah Scarp, Georgetown Hole and the Blackjack Hole will be the best of the calendar year. While dolphin have arrived, the big push is yet to come and will happen in the next few weeks. Monster wahoo, including some 100-pounders, have been included in the catches. Bottom fishing is also excellent with vermilion snapper, black sea bass and porgy the headliners. Also look for triggerfish, amberjack and grunts. The end of the annual Shallow-Water Grouper Spawning Season Closure is near, with anglers able to again harvest grouper on May 1. Red snapper cannot be harvested and must be released in the South Atlantic region.
Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.
Comments: It’s wide open,” said “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. “It’s hot, hot, hot.” Specifically, bream action is in the forefront with the improved and warming weather conditions of this week. “Some of the biggest bream I’ve seen in a long time have come by,” said Stalvey. “They’re hitting crickets and worms in 1-4 feet of water.” Catfish action is strong with fish hitting eels and shiners. “Bass are on the beds, but a lot of them have already spawned out,” said Stalvey, who recommended working top-water lures or Texas-Style Senkos. The rivers are falling after recent rains, with the Waccamaw the place to be, from Lee’s Landing to the Ricefields. “The Little Pee Dee is sky high, a foot below flood stage,” said Stalvey. “Both Pee Dees are on the fall but they’re still high, high, high. The Waccamaw is pretty high but it’s still (producing) good fish.”