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Eclipse brings visitors, fishing helps to entertain them.

image: man in canoe fishing
Richard Laurent, owner of Black River Outdoors, frees a fish hooked on a line in the Waccamaw River outside of Conway in April. Janet Blackmon Morgan jblackmon@thesunnews.com
Outdoors
Total eclipse brought thousands to the area. Anglers? They’re thankful as well

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

August 24, 2017 7:24 PM
Estuary

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

Comments: Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service had an epic eclipse trip on Monday, as his crew caught 26 spotted seatrout, 12 ladyfish and two red drum in the Winyah Bay area. McDonald used artificial grubs and live finger mullet, with the majority of the trout measuring between 16 and 19 inches. “They were nice trout, real nice trout compared to what we’ve been catching,” said McDonald, who noted a water temperature of 85 degrees. Tarpon action has picked up nicely this week in Winyah Bay and points to the south. Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters reports one of his co-captains, Capt. Chris Ossmann, found good red drum action at the Little River jetties on Thursday. Ossmann’s crew caught several reds ranging in size from inside the slot limit (15 to 23 inches) to a 36-incher, with the fish hitting live finger mullet. “Typically at the end of August the reds start biting at the inlet, so it looks like they’re doing their thing,” said Kelly. On a Wednesday trip, Kelly had average results while fishing in dingy water thanks to recent rains. Kelly’s crew caught three flounder, two trout and two ladyfish, with most fish hitting Berkeley Gulp baits, including New Penny Shrimp and White Jerk Shad.
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 went on a family outing to experience the eclipse on Monday. The Maples crew started at Belky Bear where they caught numerous smaller king mackerel. They then found solid action with bigger kings further out at the Inshore Hole, located about 25 miles south-southeast of Murrells Inlet. They finished the day at the Georgetown Reef where they caught spadefish and enjoyed the total eclipse. “The clouds cleared and it got nice for the eclipse,” said Jeff Maples. “It was awesome.” Catches of Spanish mackerel have picked up significantly this week near the beach, particularly off Grand Strand piers such as Cherry Grove Pier, Apache Pier and The Pier at Garden City. Also look for flounder, black drum, whiting, croaker and pompano off the piers. Ronnie Goodwin of the Cherry Grove Pier reported a surface ocean water temperature of 85 degrees at 4:45 p.m. Thursday.
Offshore

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

Comments: Per the norm for August, wahoo action is very good along the break in areas such as the Winyah Scarp and Georgetown Hole. Trolling large ballyhoo with skirts such as Sea Witch and Ilander are producing catches from the mackerel family including wahoo and king mackerel. There also have been scattered catches of blackfin tuna and dolphin. Kings can be found anywhere from depths of 50 feet on out to the break. As usual bottom fishing in depths of 80-120 feet is very good with vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grouper, porgy, grunts and amberjack topping the list of species. 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 deluge of rain overnight Wednesday, the Waccamaw River had a definite rise to it and was up to 9.42 feet at 3 p.m. Thursday in Conway. The Little Pee Dee at Galivants Ferry was up to 5.74 feet, also at 3 p.m. Thursday, and was forecast to rise slightly. The Waccamaw’s come up a lot and is steady rising,” said Ronald ‘Catfish’ Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. “I’ve still had limits (of bream) brought by today. If you’re bream fishing with crickets you might as well fish on the tree line along that edge and it should work very good.” Stalvey set bush hooks on the Waccamaw near Conway Wednesday night and caught five catfish out of 12 hooks with the fish ranging from 10 to 20 pounds. “That was on the Waccamaw (Wednesday) night when the water was rising and it didn’t affect the fish.” Stalvey reports bass is action is very good, but with a catch. “The fish are there but finding the big ones is few and far between,” said Stalvey.