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Cooler weather slows fishing

Fishing report: Wahoo, sailfish highlight offshore trolling trips

By Gregg Holshouser

For The Sun News

December 21, 2017 07:18 PM

Estuary

Look For: Spotted seatrout, black drum, red drum, flounder, sheepshead, tautog.

Comments: Capt. Jason Burton of Crazy Girl Fishing Charters observed a water temperature of 53-55 degrees in Murrells Inlet on a quick Monday trip, a slight increase over the last week. Burton found spotted seatrout still active, hitting artificials, but the action was not as torrid as a few weeks ago before the big drop in water temperature. Burton also found black drum in deeper holes, plus a few red drum and undersized flounder. On the north end, Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters has switched to all artificials since live shrimp are hard to come by. “If you’ve got live shrimp you’re probably going to wipe (the trout) out,” said Kelly. “We’re using Vudu shrimp, Z-Man, Z-Man trout trick and the good old Electric Chicken.” Kelly also reports red and black drum are hitting fresh shrimp fished on the bottom, with the reds being found in pockets of 4- to 5-foot water around low tide. Jetties at Winyah Bay, Murrells Inlet and Little River are producing trout, black drum, red drum and tautog.
Inshore

Look For: Black sea bass, weakfish, tautog, whiting, croaker, black drum.

Comments: Michael Wallace of Cherry Grove Pier reports action has been fairly slow this week with small whiting and a few small black drum being caught. The ocean water temperature is slightly warmer than a week ago, sitting at 54 degrees at both surface and bottom Thursday at 5 p.m. Black sea bass, with a 13-inch minimum size limit, are the best bet on near-shore artificial reefs with weakfish, tautog and flounder also available. On the near-shore hard-bottom areas, weakfish are still active with black sea bass also available.
Offshore

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

Comments: A window of opportunity presented itself with fantastic sea conditions on Sunday, and plenty of boats took advantage with excellent trolling or bottom-fishing trips. Ocean Isle Fishing Center (OIFC.com) reports a crew fishing with Capt. Roger Gales worked the Winyah Scarp vicinity in depths of 180 feet and caught four wahoo, including a 60-pounder, and three blackfin tuna. Three of the wahoo hit Iland Lure-ballyhoo combos. Sailfish also made a showing on Sunday, with multiple boats hooking up. Surprisingly, the Reel Blessed crew out of Sneads Ferry, N.C., released six sails on the day. Capt. Justin Scott Witten of Ambush Sport Fishing in Murrells Inlet took a crew bottom fishing and produced a phenomenal catch of large vermilion snapper, triggerfish, black sea bass, red porgy and white grunts. Grouper are also available, but can be harvested only through New Year’s Eve. The annual Shallow-Water Grouper Spawning Season Closure will go into effect on Jan. 1 and lasts through April 30. The Greater Amberjack Fishery is closed to harvest for recreational anglers until March 2018. Also, 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 are closed in the South Atlantic region and must be released.
Freshwater

Look For: Crappie, bream, bass, catfish.

Comments: Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway reports good fishing action remains available for bream, crappie, bass and catfish on the local rivers. Beetle spins, jigs and medium shiners are producing good catches of crappie, with lakes off the rivers in particular holding fish. Bream action is good, lead-lining worms on the bottom. “Bass fishing has been hot,” said Stalvey. “Crank baits are No. 1.” Craw baits and Texas-rigged worms are also producing bass. Catfish action is good on eels, live bream and large shiners.