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Extreme cold makes for poor fishing

Looking for a honey hole? Getting fish to bite could be tough until cold snap subsides

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

January 04, 2018 06:07 PM

UPDATED January 04, 2018 06:10 PM

Look For: Red drum, black drum, spotted seatrout, flounder, sheepshead, tautog.

Comments: Over the holidays, conditions in local estuaries went from autumn-like conditions with great fishing to concerns over spotted seatrout surviving the cold. A prolonged cold spell that will continue through the weekend has all but shut down fishing in local inlets, bays and sounds. North Carolina has announced a closure of spotted seatrout for all anglers, both recreational and commercial. Beginning Friday at 3 p.m., it is unlawful to possess, transport, buy, sell or offer for sale spotted seatrout taken from coastal and joint fishing waters of North Carolina until the fishery reopens on June 15. In South Carolina waters, spotted seatrout and red drum cannot be harvested by gig from December through February of each year.
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Look For: Black sea bass, weakfish, tautog, sheepshead, flounder, whiting, croaker, black drum.

Comments: Ronnie Goodwin of Cherry Grove Pier reports anglers have been scarce during the cold blast, but he did have a group from Canada try their luck on Tuesday. “I think they caught one little croaker,” said Goodwin. “There’s not much going on, it’s been so cold.” Goodwin reported an ocean water temperature of 44 degrees surface and bottom on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. The best bet in the inshore waters is for black sea bass on near-shore artificial reefs. Black sea bass have a 13-inch minimum size limit with a daily bag limit of seven per person. Weakfish, tautog, sheepshead and flounder are also possibilities on the reefs.

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

Comments: About a week before Christmas, on Dec. 17 to be exact, sea conditions were great offshore and trolling anglers took advantage by catching wahoo, blackfin tuna and even sailfish. On the bottom, some excellent catches of vermilion snapper, triggerfish, black sea bass, red porgy and white grunts were brought in. Since then, it’s been all downhill weather-wise as the Southeast has been in an arctic grip with windy and cold conditions. When the weather returns to normal, anglers will be able to pick their days and troll for wahoo and blackfin tuna, and find productive bottom fishing. The annual Shallow-Water Grouper Spawning Season Closure went into effect on Jan. 1 and lasts through April 30. The Greater Amberjack Fishery is closed to harvest for recreational anglers until March 2018. Red snapper are closed in the South Atlantic region and must be released.

Look For: Crappie, bream, bass, catfish.

Comments: Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle arrived at his tackle shop in a winter wonderland Thursday morning as the Conway area received three inches of snow from Winter Storm Grayson. Stalvey had some interesting observations. “I went by Savannah Bluff (just off Hwy. 501) and the cove was frozen on top,” said Stalvey. “Lake Busbee was half frozen over.” Not surprisingly, Stalvey has received reports of sub-40 degree water temperatures in local rivers. The last real fishing report Stalvey received was a limit of bream caught lead-lining on Christmas Eve, before the Arctic onslaught hit. For now, Stalvey has one tip for anglers willing to brave the cold and fish the rivers. “Find a deep hole, you find the honey hole,” he said.

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