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Category Archives: Live Great Outdoors Blog

Plenty biting in the local area.

August 18, 2017 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Plenty biting in the local area.

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Captain Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service hooks into a shark several months ago in North Inlet. JASON LEE jlee@thesunnews
Outdoors
Fishing report: Red (drum) summer continues on local estuaries, plenty others biting

By Gregg Holshouser

For The Sun News

August 17, 2017 7:17 PM
Estuary

Look For: Black drum, flounder, spotted seatrout, red drum, sheepshead, bluefish, tarpon.

Comments: It was quite a day Thursday for Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in the Georgetown vicinity. “We fished the (North) Inlet, the (Winyah) Bay, the jetties,” said McDonald. “We’ve been running from place to place trying to stay away from sharks and ribbonfish.” McDonald’s crew caught 14 trout, five flounder, three red drum and three ladyfish on the morning trip. “We’ve been doing fair to middlin’,” quipped McDonald, who noted a water temperature of 85 degrees. It’s been a week of trout and reds for Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters in the Little River area. “We’ve been mainly catching reds – it’s been a good summer for red drum,” said Kelly. “We’ve been using a lot of live shrimp in the deeper parts of the waterway. Kelly has also had success with spotted seatrout, also hitting live shrimp. “We’ve had some keeper fish in the two- to three-pound range and a lot of small fish,” Kelly said of the trout. Kelly also noted that large shrimp – eating size shrimp – have shown up recently in his cast net while he’s been catching bait. In Murrells Inlet, black drum and flounder have been the top catch this week with large croakers and even some spots also being landed. Ed Keelin of Georgetown Landing Marina reports plenty of tarpon have been spotted in the Winyah Bay vicinity, but few catches have been reported.
Inshore

Look For: Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, bluefish, black sea bass, spadefish, weakfish, flounder, whiting, croaker, pompano, black drum, sheepshead and red drum.

Comments: Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters has been targeting flounder on the near-shore reefs this week. On Thursday, he found plenty of flounder at Paradise Reef, located three miles east of Murrells Inlet, but keepers over South Carolina’s new minimum size limit for flounder of 15 inches were hard to come by. “We started at Paradise, and we must have caught 20 flounder at 14.5 inches,” said Maples. The captain then moved to the 10-Mile Reef, also east of Murrells Inlet. “We caught flounder there too but the barracuda were having a field day,” said Maples. “You’ve got to get them up quick or you’re only going to get half of it.” Maples also notes that large Spanish mackerel are available at both reefs, with king mackerel being caught at Belky Bear, just offshore of the 10-Mile Reef. Maples has also seen spadefish on the reefs but said “the ‘cudas are spooking them.” Numerous species are available off Grand Strand piers and near the surfline, headed by whiting, croaker, black drum and Spanish mackerel, but catches are scattered. The ocean water temperature was 86 degrees on the surface and bottom Thursday afternoon at Cherry Grove Pier.
Offshore

Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, dolphin, sailfish, vermilion snapper, triggerfish, white grunts, red porgy, black sea bass, grouper, amberjack.

Comments: August is known to be a solid month for wahoo trolling in areas near the break such as the Winyah Scarp and Georgetown Hole. Such was the case in the Georgetown Wahoo Challenge last weekend out of Georgetown Landing Marina, when 21 boats weighed in 67 wahoo. Blackfin tuna and a few dolphin and sailfish are also in the trolling mix in the same areas. Also look for king mackerel on bottom spots in depths of 50-80 feet. Vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, and amberjack lead the way for bottom fishermen, with grouper, porgy and grunts also available. Cobia cannot be harvested in 2017 in South Carolina waters (to three miles offshore) or federal waters (beyond three miles) and must be released. Red snapper must be released in the South Atlantic region.
Freshwater

Look For: Bream, catfish, bass, crappie.

Comments: After a cool start to the month, it has felt like the dog days of August this week. “It’s been so hot not a lot of people have been going,” said Ronald ‘Catfish’ Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. Bream continue to hit crickets and worms, but fishing a little off the bank in deeper water is a good plan. Fishing worms on the bottom may also be a good idea. Stalvey says bass action is good, but predominantly early and late in the day to avoid the oppressive heat. Try using spinnerbaits and buzz baits at dawn or dusk, and in between use a Texas-rigged worm on drop-offs and creek mouths. Catfish are hitting a variety of live bait (bream, black salties) and cut baits (eels, mullet). Surprisingly, the Waccamaw has more of a rise of in it than the Little Pee Dee. The Waccamaw was at 8.19 feet at 3:15 p.m. Thursday in Conway while the Little Pee Dee was at 4.71 feet at 3 p.m. at Galivants Ferry.

Changes in deer hunting regulations

August 5, 2017 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Changes in deer hunting regulations

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When deer hunting season opens in the majority of the state on Aug. 15, South Carolina will become the final state in the nation to institute a statewide limit on the harvest of bucks File photo The Sun News
Outdoors
What you need to know about S.C.’s new deer tagging system, limit on harvest of bucks

By Gregg Holshouser

For The Sun News

August 04, 2017 2:45 PM

Changes in South Carolina’s antiquated white-tailed deer hunting laws will go into effect in mid-August following years of public input and 14 months after legislation was passed by the state General Assembly.

When deer hunting season opens in the majority of the state — including game zones 3 and 4 for which Horry and Georgetown counties are a part of — on Aug. 15, South Carolina will become the final state in the nation to institute a statewide limit on the harvest of bucks.

S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) is in the process of instituting a first-time tagging system which will require all deer harvested – bucks and does – to be tagged at the point of kill, joining most other states with similar systems.

The legislation was signed into law by then-Gov. Nikki Haley on June 8, 2016.

The new laws are the result of well over a decade of input the agency received from hunters interested in improving the quality and quantity of bucks available in the Palmetto State.

Hunter input along with an estimated 35 percent decline in the state’s deer population since the turn of the century forced members of the state’s legislative body into action.

Resident hunters in game zones 3 and 4 that have purchased a hunting license and a big game permit automatically receive a base set of tags — three tags for antlered bucks and eight date-specific antlerless deer tags.

“It’s been in the works since 2003,” said SCDNR big game program coordinator Charles Ruth. “Clearly it was something hunters initiated and it gained momentum over time. Our deer population changed noticeably during the same period of time to get where we are. (The population decline) added fuel to what changes we were already talking about.

“It wouldn’t ever have gotten to the level where the legislature was interested in it if the hunters at the local level had not continued to bring it up. Then the legislature said they really wanted to see some changes. That’s when it all started to come together.”

The agency has been busy mailing deer tags to hunters in recent weeks, a new venture for Ruth and his cohorts — and the hunters.

“Since the legislation passed, the big thing has been orchestrating this tag program, getting the tags to the hunters that are supposed to have them,” said Ruth.

As for hunters that have questions on exactly how to use the tags, Ruth has a simple message — read them.

“The biggest message we can give to hunters is simply read your tags,” said Ruth. “It all will make more sense if you just read your tag. Most of the calls I’m getting from my constituents is ‘Hey, I got my deer tags and this makes perfect sense to me.’ Each tag has verbiage on it. The entire back side has info on it. The light bulb will go off and they’ll say, ‘I’ve got this.’”

Resident hunters in game zones 3 and 4 that have purchased a hunting license and a big game permit automatically receive a base set of tags — three tags for antlered bucks and eight date-specific antlerless deer tags.

“Those eight doe tags simply replace what used to be doe days,” said Ruth. “It’s the same eight days we’ve had the last four to five years … typically Saturdays, except the last one which is Jan. 1 (2018).”

The buck restriction is designed to take the pressure off the year-and-a-half old bucks. If the hunter wants that extra opportunity he has to get those tags, but he can’t just keep harvesting little bucks.

SCDNR big game program coordinator Charles Ruth

Resident hunters in game zones 3 and 4 can also purchase two antler restriction buck tags for $5 apiece, each of which are valid only on bucks with a minimum of four points on one antler or a 12-inch inside antler spread. As in the past, resident hunters can also purchase up to four individual antlerless deer tags for $5 each.

“The buck restriction is designed to take the pressure off the year-and-a-half old bucks,” said Ruth. “If the hunter wants that extra opportunity he has to get those tags, but he can’t just keep harvesting little bucks.”

SCDNR will in the future have the ability to alter the number of antlerless deer tags available to hunters, but a change in the number of buck tags available would require legislative approval.

“The tags are the actual tool to enforce that buck limit, and part of the process is the agency wants all deer tagged which will give us a better ability to manage the antlerless harvest as we go into the future,” said Ruth. “SCDNR will be able to manipulate the number of tags, especially the optional tags for does. It has been such that people could get up to four (additional doe tags) for a long time. If the agency sees the need for it to be less than four, or more than four for that matter, they could make that adjustment.”

With the start of deer hunting season fast approaching, Ruth says hunters who are due tags will soon receive them.

“As of today, the agency is basically caught up with the initial bulk distribution,” said Ruth. “The people who have an active big game permit, if they don’t have their tags, they’re in the mail. One of the most frequently asked questions is if you have an active hunting license and big game permit you automatically get your base set of tags.”

Senior hunters, lifetime license holders and youth hunters are entitled to the base set of tags, but have to request them by calling 803-734-3833.

The Deer Quota Program, formerly the Antlerless Deer Quota Program, is available for landowners with large properties and has been in place for over 50 years. SCDNR determines the property’s quota and issues tags based on the size and location of the property, along with the goals of the participant. A harvest report is required.

For more information on the South Carolina’s deer season visit http://dnr.sc.gov/wildlife/deer/index.html. For more information on the new tagging program visit http://dnr.sc.gov/deertags/tags.html.

Cool temps, hot fishing.

August 4, 2017 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Cool temps, hot fishing.

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Dennis Caruso tosses a line from the Myrtle Beach State Park Pier earlier this summer. Janet Blackmon Morgan jblackmon@thesunnews.com
Outdoors
Cooler temperatures allow action to heat up for anglers fishing local waters

By Gregg Holshouser

For The Sun News

August 03, 2017 6:10 PM
Estuary

Look For: Black drum, flounder, spotted seatrout, red drum, sheepshead, bluefish, tarpon.

Comments: A rare cold front for late July moved through early in the week, offering a respite from the heat and a drop in water temperature to bring in August. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown noted the water temperature cooled about 10 degrees, bottoming out at 76 degrees in the Winyah Bay vicinity. McDonald had solid outings the last two days including a catch of nine spotted seatrout, four red drum, four ladyfish and a pair of jack crevalle on Thursday. McDonald used live finger mullet for bait and said one of the trout weighed more than three pounds and the jacks were in the four-pound range. “It was a busy four hours – not much play time,” said McDonald, who pointed out bait is plentiful in the bay. “You can walk on the finger mullet, there’s so many of them.” On the north end, Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters enjoyed the cooler weather while it lasted. “It’s been pretty cool in the morning and I’ve actually been wearing a jacket,” said Kelly. “It’s been nice.” Kelly has had success with a top-water trout bite at daybreak, with fish hitting Zara Spooks and Top Pup Mirrolures. Kelly has also produced black drum, red drum and a few flounder this week. Kelly also noted ribbonfish are plentiful, feeding on the numerous finger mullet that are present.
Inshore

Look For: Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, bluefish, black sea bass, spadefish, weakfish, flounder, whiting, croaker, pompano, black drum, sheepshead and red drum.

Comments: Spanish mackerel and flounder have been the hot ticket by boat on inshore waters. Spanish can be found from near the beach, especially in the vicinity of area jetties, to near-shore reefs such as Paradise Reef and Jim Caudle Reef on out to bottom spots such as Myrtle Beach Rocks and Belky Bear. Effective methods to catch them include trolling mackerel rigs (finished with a Clark or Drone spoon) on No. 1 planers or drifting/casting finger mullet. Look for the birds and bait and Spanish should be in the vicinity. Belky Bear and other spots in depths of 30-50 feet are producing good catches of king mackerel. Capt. Jeff Maples has found excellent flounder fishing on the near-shore reefs, using the plentiful finger mullet for bait. “I threw my net one time (Wednesday) and blacked out my (live) well,” said Maples. On Wednesday afternoon, Maples and crew had a blast catching numerous flounder. “We caught well over 40, on one spot,” said Maples. “For four hours it never quit. It was amazing.” With South Carolina’s new flounder minimum size limit of 15 inches, Maples brought home 7 keepers ranging from just over 15 to 21 inches. Many of the fish Maples released were measured between 14 and 15 inches. Ronnie Goodwin of Cherry Grove Pier said Spanish mackerel have been caught in the morning, with some spotted seatrout landed at high tide. Other species landed on the pier this week include flounder, black drum, whiting, croaker, pompano and spadefish. Goodwin noted a water temperature of 83 degrees at the surface and bottom Thursday at 4:30 p.m. Aaron Morris of The Pier at Garden City reports whiting, croaker, small pompano and ribbonfish have been the top catch this week.
Offshore

Look For: Blackfin tuna, wahoo, dolphin, sailfish, vermilion snapper, triggerfish, white grunts, red porgy, black sea bass, grouper, amberjack.

Comments: Sea conditions have been sloppy offshore most of the week on the heels of the cold front but blackfin tuna along with a few wahoo and dolphin are available for trolling boats. The potential is there for numerous blackfins to be landed per trip, and August is traditionally a good month for wahoo. King mackerel are being found in good numbers in depths of 50-80 feet. Bottom fishing is producing good catches of vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grouper, porgy, grunts and amberjack. Cobia cannot be harvested in 2017 in South Carolina waters (to three miles offshore) or federal waters (beyond three miles) and must be released. Red snapper must be released in the South Atlantic region.
Freshwater

Look For: Bream, catfish, bass, crappie.

Comments: River levels are in very good shape and a cold front stymied the mid-summer heat early in the week. The result? Very good catches of bream, catfish and bass on area rivers in comfortable conditions. The Waccamaw River was at 6.97 feet at Conway at 4:15 p.m. Thursday, while the Little Pee Dee was at 4.97 feet at Galivants Ferry at 4 p.m. Thursday. Look for bream in 2-6 feet of water hitting crickets or worms. A variety of baits will work for catfish including live black salties or goldfish, along with cut eels. The heat is returning for the weekend, so look for bass early and late in the day hitting swim baits, spinnerbaits or jerk baits.