Photo credit: Robert F. Bukaty AP
by Gregg Holshouser, Special to The Sun News
Look For:Spotted seatrout, black drum, red drum, flounder, tautog, sheepshead.
Comments: The roller-coaster ride of temperatures continues with highs in the 40s one day and soon back up to the 70s. “The fish don’t know what to do,” said Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown. Before the coldest air of the autumn pushed into the area Thursday night, McDonald had a couple of productive days earlier in the week in the Winyah Bay vicinity. On Sunday, McDonald’s crew caught 30 spotted seatrout and five red drum. On Wednesday while fishing in 57-degree water, action was a little slower with McDonald producing a mixed bag of six black drum, three flounder including two nice keepers, two red drum and one trout. McDonald caught the trout on artificial grubs and the drum on cut shrimp. A variety of species are available at area jetties with trout, black drum and tautog topping the list. Also look for red drum, sheepshead and flounder hanging out at the rocks.
Look For: Black sea bass, weakfish, tautog, flounder, croaker, whiting, black drum.
Comments: ’Tis the season to find black sea bass in good numbers on near-shore artificial reefs and hard-bottom areas. The smallish members of the grouper family make for superb table fare and have a 13-inch minimum size limit with a 7-fish per person per day bag limit. Black sea bass are eager to take a variety of baits, including cut shrimp, mullet or squid, but will also take live bait (mud minnows) or grubs. Also look for tautog, weakfish, flounder and possibly sheepshead on the near-shore reefs. Action has slowed to a crawl from Grand Strand piers. Look for a few croaker, whiting and possibly black drum, although keeper black drum have been rare. The ocean water temperature was 57 degrees Thursday afternoon at Cherry Grove Pier, and headed down.
Look For: Wahoo, dolphin, blackfin tuna, grouper, black sea bass, vermilion snapper, porgy, triggerfish, grunts, amberjack.
Comments: Find a break in the windy, rough weather and there is good fishing to be found in the offshore waters. Trolling action can be excellent in December for wahoo where the Gulf Stream interacts with the Continental Shelf, with a few blackfin tuna and dolphin also in the mix. Bottom fishing is producing the usual mix of grouper, black sea bass, vermilion snapper, porgy, triggerfish, grunts and amberjack. Red snapper are off-limits in the South Atlantic region and must be released.
Look For: Bream, crappie, catfish, bass.
Comments: Rainy weather has the rivers on the rise again, and action has slowed on the Little Pee Dee and Great Pee Dee rivers. The Waccamaw River has produced the best this week with bream hitting lead-lined worms. Crappie are hitting minnows around brush and other structure. Catfish will take a variety of live or cut baits. “The bass fishing has been tremendous,” said Ronald ‘Catfish’ Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. Stalvey reports bass are hitting crankbaits, jerkbaits and plastic worms fished on the bottom.
Hundreds of fishermen lined the rails of the Apache Pier during an event last year. Jason Lee email@example.com
Fishing slows from inshore piers, but anglers flourishing elsewhere
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
Look For: Spotted seatrout, black drum, red drum, flounder, sheepshead.
Comments: It’s been a great autumn for anglers in the estuaries along the Grand Strand. “We’ve had a phenomenal year with the big reds and now the trout fishing is great,” said Capt. Mark Dickson of Shallow-Minded Inshore Charters. In addition, there have been excellent catches of black drum with scattered catches of flounder. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service had a super day on Monday, fishing in Winyah Bay and points south. McDonald’s crew caught 36 trout and 16 reds, with the majority of the fish caught on fly rods. “Fishing’s pretty good,” said McDonald. “The fish are starting to get in their winter pattern, with the reds ganging up pretty good. It’s time for them to start that.” On Thursday afternoon, McDonald reports the water temperature had increased to 67 degrees in the bay, but was headed down again with cooler weather arriving.
Look For: Black sea bass, whiting, weakfish, black drum, red drum, flounder, perch, croaker.
Comments: Fishing has slowed along the surf from piers along the Grand Strand. Carsten Fischer of Apache Pier reports there have been decent catches of one pound-plus whiting this week. “We’ve had palm-sized spots and very few of them,” said Fischer, who also noted a few black drum have also been caught. Ronnie Goodwin of Cherry Grove Pier reports catches of small whiting and croakers. The water temperature at both piers was 61 degrees Thursday afternoon. With the water temperature about to move below 60 degrees and December here, look for keeper black sea bass over the 13-inch minimum size limit to become more numerous on near-shore bottom spots and artificial reefs. Also look for weakfish and flounder.
Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, dolphin, grouper, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, porgy, triggerfish, grunts, amberjack.
Comments: Find pretty water near the break, and wahoo are likely to be in the vicinity. Ocean Isle Fishing Center reports the Get’n Bent Fishing Team headed out on Monday in hopes of finding plenty of wahoo. The crew wound up catching a pair of barracuda on a temperature break in 110 feet of water, then at the 160-foot mark landed a 50-pound wahoo and missed two more. They then moved back inshore and landed grouper, vermilion snapper and black sea bass. Last week, the OIFC’s Derek Treffinger reports a yellowfin tuna was landed on a trip, along with a wahoo and a few dolphin. Bottom fishing is very good for grouper, black sea bass, vermilion snapper, porgy, triggerfish, grunts and amberjack. Red snapper are off-limits in the South Atlantic region and must be released.
Look For: Crappie, bream, catfish, bass.
Comments: The water levels are in good shape, plus it has been a warm autumn, and the fish are cooperating on local rivers. “Everything’s biting tremendous,” said Catfish Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. “Morgans, bream, bass, crappie, catfish.” Look for crappie hitting minnows around structure and brush. Lead-lining worms and nightcrawlers is the top method to catch bream, including morgans. Catfish will hit a variety of live or cut bait.
Garden City Beach resident Charlie Nash shows off a spotted seatrout caught Tuesday in Murrells Inlet. Gregg Holshouser For The Sun News
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
The week of Thanksgiving had arrived, and it was time to indulge in some of the fantastic spotted seatrout action anglers have been enjoying in estuaries along the Grand Strand this autumn.
Garden City Beach resident Charlie Nash pulled out of Inlet Harbour into the main creek of Murrells Inlet on Tuesday and took a left in his sizable jon boat, with my brother-in-law Bryan Cox and myself along for the trip. It was a chilly start at 10:30 a.m., with temps approaching 50 degrees and a 10 mph northeast breeze under a sunny, bluebird sky.
The sun sets in the western sky Tuesday afternoon to end a day of fishing in Murrells Inlet. Gregg Holshouser For The Sun News
Less than five minutes later, we arrived at the inlet’s jetties and dropped back Yo-Zuri chartreuse shrimp on Shimano baitcaster reels. Nash began slow-trolling the lures, meandering parallel to the jetties, searching for the fish, as we kept the shrimp just off the bottom. However, the tide was rising, and the action was slow. Nash had previously caught trout by the same method on recent trips, but on a falling tide, and he moved on to plan B after about 30 minutes with no bites.
The next spot was on the north end of the inlet, well off the main channel, and this time we deployed live shrimp under adjustable-depth floats, letting the incoming current carry the bait through a productive area just off a Spartina grass bank. Again, the action was slow, but Nash was not fazed.
“Those fish are going to come in here, just let that water get moving a little more,” he said.
As the tide approached high before starting to turn, Nash was proven prophetic. In the span of an hour, we caught three black drum including two keepers on the lower end of the 14-27 inch slot limit, a pair of trout just over the 14-inch minimum size and a flounder under the 14-inch minimum size, for a quick Carolina slam.
But trolling the Yo-Zuri shrimp at the jetties was what Nash had in mind – in recent trips he had caught numerous fish by that method including some over 20 inches. The Myrtle Beach native and longtime local angler was biding his time, waiting on the tide to get right. A little after 3 p.m., an hour after high tide, Nash returned to our original spot at the jetties and we once again began slow-trolling the Yo-Zuri chartreuse shrimp. This time, with the wind laid down and the temperature up to about 60, the trout cooperated.
Problem was, the window of opportunity during the falling tide was small, with the early sunset of late autumn looming.
Nash wasted no time in getting the boat lined up the right distance from the rocks as we dropped our artificial shrimp back a good 100 yards, again, keeping them just off the bottom.
After a few minutes, I went from feeling just the resistance of the trolled lure on my rod to it being doubled over when a nice trout slammed the shrimp and was caught on the rear treble hook. In a few minutes, I had the fish beside the boat and Nash netted a nice 19-20 incher.
As the sun inched down closer and closer toward the south jetty in the western sky, we added five more solid keeper trout to our catch as Nash worked back and forth adjacent to the rocks.
The sunlight faded and the sky turned incredible shades of blue, pink, yellow and purple as we headed back toward Inlet Harbor with the sun disappearing behind the jetty.
Super weather, great fishing, great friendship and beautiful scenery – so much to be thankful for along our South Carolina coast on this Thanksgiving weekend.
CCA South Carolina Contribution
The marine species of fish raised at the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources’ Waddell Mariculture Center in Bluffton are crucial to the stocks of popular fish available to recreational fishermen in Palmetto State waters.
The center has raised species such as red drum, black drum, spotted seatrout, cobia, flounder and striped bass among others for stocking and research purposes over the last 30 years. The 1,200-acre property in Beaufort County features twelve 0.25-acre ponds, ten 0.5-acre ponds, and three 1.25-acre ponds.
The stocking program is especially important in areas along the Grand Strand that feature small estuaries such as Murrells Inlet, Cherry Grove and Little River that receive heavy fishing pressure. The stocking of species such as red drum in these inlets helps offset the lack of natural reproduction and the heavy fishing pressure.
Keeping the aeration pumps running non-stop is critical to the success of the center and stocking program, and Coastal Conservation Association South Carolina recently took a big step toward ensuring that happens.
CCA South Carolina stepped in this week to provide two generators large enough to keep all 25 outdoor fish ponds on the center’s grounds going in the event of power outages.
“For the mariculture center to maintain uninterrupted production systems is important,” said Al Stokes of S.C. DNR. “Because our work with several recreationally important marine species is seasonal, the loss of electrical service for a period of time jeopardizes our important work.
“These generators donated by CCA South Carolina will significantly reduce that risk and allow our researchers and scientists to continue their studies unimpeded.”
CCA South Carolina was able to secure the two generators in early August and with the help of Flint Equipment Company and Reeves Trucking the generators are in excellent working condition, insuring service for the mariculture center for years to come.
“As part of our on-going commitment to improving marine habitat and our support of science based fisheries management, providing this equipment was an investment that our state board knew would further both of those causes,” said Richard Berry, CCA South Carolina State Chairman. “Given the impressive track record of scientific study and research to come out of this facility, we know this will pay dividends to recreational angling and fisheries management for years to come.”