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Fall fishing begins

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Fall fishing begins, conditions allow boats to get offshore without hurricane effects

By Gregg Holshouser

For The Sun News

September 22, 2017 2:33 PM

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

Comments: The IFA Redfish Tour returns to Georgetown this weekend with the second and final stop in the tour’s Atlantic Division to be staged at the Carroll Ashmore Campbell Marine Complex, located on U.S. 17 on the Sampit River. The registration and captains meeting will be held Friday starting at 5 p.m. with the weigh-in beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday. Anglers competing in the tournament will be targeting red drum that measure within South Carolina’s slot limit of 15 to 23 inches. Plenty of reds are available out there, from juveniles as small as 10 inches to the big bulls that range from 30 to 40-plus inches in length. The fall run of the bulls is just getting underway with the big spawners being caught near area jetties and along the channels of inlets such as Little River Inlet and Winyah Bay. The bulls are also on hand on near-shore hard-bottom spots in the Atlantic. Anglers are urged to catch these fish quickly with beefed up tackle and release them carefully, being sure they are revived before letting them go. These fish represent the red drum’s future in South Carolina waters and should be handled delicately to ensure their survival. Area jetties are currently producing reds, black drum, spotted seatrout, sheepshead and flounder.

Look For: Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, bluefish, black sea bass, spadefish, weakfish, flounder, whiting, croaker, pompano, black drum, sheepshead and red drum.

Comments: Edgar Stephens was the man of the day during the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce’s Fall Pier King Tournament on Saturday. Stephens landed king mackerel weighing 24 and 23 pounds, two ounces off the Cherry Grove Pier to win the tournament. Stephens’ kings, which were caught on bluefish 30 minutes apart, were the only two caught in the tournament. Otherwise, fall has officially arrived, meaning red drum, weakfish and black sea bass are the species to target on near-shore hard-bottom areas and artificial reefs. But in the wake of the hurricane train, don’t forget some monster spadefish have taken up residence on many of the near-shore reefs. Weakfish are a staple fish in the autumn, and the fish have started to show. “They’re not really, really thick yet but they’re there,” said Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters, who has landed weakfish and red drum on hard-bottom areas south of Myrtle Beach this week. Catches of king mackerel were hit or miss this week at areas such as the 10-Mile Reef and Belky Bear. Maples fished the area and found dirty water. “The (water) color just isn’t right,” said Maples. Scott Skrzydlinski of Cherry Grove Pier reports a nice variety of species were landed early in the week off the pier including whiting, croaker, black drum, red drum, flounder, Spanish mackerel and bluefish. Skrzydlinski also noted good numbers of sheepshead were caught from the pilings early in the week. The surface water temperature at the pier at 4:55 p.m. Thursday was 81 degrees on the surface and 79 on the bottom.

Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, dolphin, grouper, vermilion snapper, triggerfish, red porgy, black sea bass, amberjack.

Comments: At mid-week, conditions were finally suitable for boats to get offshore after the effects of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Jose. Trolling was hit or miss, but some boats had good catches of wahoo, dolphin and blackfin tuna. The 100/400 area was good for the Dirty Martini on Wednesday, with Jeff Martini’s crew landing four wahoo, four blackfin tuna, two dolphin and a king mackerel. Martini, owner/operator of Mid-Town Bistro in North Myrtle Beach, reported blue 81-degree water and plentiful baby flying fish in the vicinity, in 170 feet of water. Bottom fishing should be very good this fall, especially after the parade of hurricanes ends, hopefully soon. Look for grouper, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, red porgy, triggerfish and amberjack on bottom spots in depths of 90-130 feet of water. Capt. Jay Sconyers of Aces Up Fishing out of Murrells Inlet produced a super catch of vermilion snapper, triggerfish, black sea bass and amberjack on a Thursday trip. Anglers should be aware that cobia cannot be harvested in 2017 in South Carolina waters (to three miles offshore) or federal waters (beyond three miles) and must be released. Also, red snapper must be released in the South Atlantic region.

Look For: Bream, catfish, bass, crappie.

Comments: The water remains high on local rivers. The Waccamaw River is still near minor flood stage, at 10.57 feet as of 4:15 p.m. Thursday in Conway, but was forecast to recede. The Little Pee Dee at Galivants Ferry was at 7.73 feet at 4 p.m. Thursday and receding. Areas farther down the rivers such as the Ricefields are good to fish in high water. Bream are hitting crickets fished deep, with bass taking top-water lures such as buzzbaits, frogs and spinnerbaits. Catfish will take fresh, cut eels, plus cut bait such as mullet, menhaden or shad.

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