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Cool temps, hot fishing.

image: man fishing
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.