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Fish biting aplenty in estuaries from Winyah Bay north into N.C.

Matt Risenhoover of Cleveland, Tenn., continues fishing off the Cherry Grove pier despite heavy rains and winds brought on by Tropical Storm Hermine a few months ago. JASON LEE jlee@thesunnews
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

Look For: Spotted seatrout, black drum, red drum, flounder, sheepshead.
Comments: Superb fall fishing is happening right now, with very good catches of spotted seatrout, black drum and red drum, plus the occasional flounder, from Winyah Bay to Brunswick County, N.C. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown had a strong day Tuesday in Winyah Bay, catching nearly 20 trout along with red drum and black drum. McDonald fished grass banks, using plastic grubs for the trout, while cut shrimp under floats and on Carolina rigs were successful for the red and black drum. All this despite poor water conditions caused by extremely high tides and runoff. “It’s exceptionally good fishing for the water we’ve had,” said McDonald. “It’s still filthy water, muddy water, trees floating in it. But we’re still catching fish.” Catches are good for all four species, plus bluefish, in Murrells Inlet and the Little River vicinity. ‘Catfish’ Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway reports fishermen in the spot fleet have been happy, as catches of spots have been excellent. “They’ve been limiting out every day down there in Murrells Inlet,” said Stalvey, “and I’m hearing reports from North Carolina that the big spots are on the way down here.”
Look For: Whiting, weakfish, black sea bass, black drum, red drum, flounder, croaker, spots.

Comments: It’s been a fantastic fall for bull red drum, which continue to be found on bottom spots within about five miles of the beach. The water temperature is about to get cold enough to push these majestic fish further offshore, but in the meantime these big spawners should be caught quickly and released carefully. Look for weakfish, black sea bass, whiting and flounder on the same bottom spots. Catches have slowed some on Grand Strand piers as the water temperature had cooled to 62 degrees at Cherry Grove Pier and 63 degrees at Apache Pier at midday Thursday. Whiting are the top catch with a good number of black drum being caught also. Other species caught this week include weakfish, spots, flounder, silver perch and puffers. No Spanish mackerel or bluefish have been reported this week off the piers.
Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, dolphin, grouper, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, porgy, triggerfish, grunts, amberjack.
Comments: Tranquil sea conditions allowed several boats to get offshore to the offshore ledges earlier this week, and they found the wahoo action on fire. Tracy Huggins of North Myrtle Beach and crew headed out aboard Dark-30 on Wednesday and caught seven wahoo ranging from 45 to 70 pounds while fishing the 100 to 400 vicinity. Late fall through most of the winter marks the best wahoo fishing to be found in the calendar year along the Carolina coast. “We’ve got a world-class wahoo fishery,” said Huggins, who also landed a dolphin on the trip. Wahoo weren’t the only species to make a nice showing. Jeff Martini’s new edition of Dirty Martini, a 36-foot Albemarle, raised five sailfish and released two at the boat, landed a 50-pound wahoo, blackfin tuna, dolphin, three amberjack and three kings while fishing at the McMarlen Ledge while fishing out of Little River. “The water’s still very warm out there for this time of year,” said Martini. Bottom fishing is excellent for grouper, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, porgy, triggerfish and grunts. Look for grouper on bottom spots in 65 feet of water and king mackerel in depths of 65 feet and beyond. Red snapper are off-limits in the South Atlantic region and must be released.
Look For: Crappie, bream, catfish, bass.
Comments: Area rivers are finally getting back in fishing shape after the passage of Hurricane Matthew on Oct. 8. “The Little Pee Dee is at a fishable level and the Waccamaw just started to make a little tide, so that’s a good thing,” said “Catfish’” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. Crappie action has heated up with the cooler weather, with fish hitting minnows around structure and brush. “We’ve been selling crappie minnows like crazy,” said Stalvey. Bream are in a state of change as the water temperature drops. “Some people are throw-lining and some are lead-lining,” said Stalvey. In addition, catfish action has been very good with the drop in water temperature. “Catfish are biting like crazy,” said Stalvey.

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