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Fishing affected by the heat

image: men fishing
Fishermen line the public fishing dock at Cherry Grove Park at 53rd Avenue North in North Myrtle Beach. JASON LEE
July 06, 2017 6:31 PM
Sweltering heat, rough seas make fishing hard to come by on area estuaries, inshore

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News


Look For: Flounder, spotted seatrout, black drum, red drum, sheepshead, bluefish.

Comments: “It’s been a little slow, I think the heat and humidity has slowed the bite down,” said Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Charters in Little River. “We’re still catching fish but we’re not getting the same size or numbers.” Kelly continues to target spotted seatrout on top-water lures at daybreak with some success. Later in the day, it’s been black drum, small trout and a few slot red drum hitting finger mullet, shrimp and Berkely Gulp baits. “There’s a lot of pinfish, a lot of bait stealers out there,” said Kelly. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown had a solid trip on Wednesday in the Winyah Bay vicinity. McDonald’s crew caught 12 red drum, six black drum and four spotted seatrout while floating cut shrimp on grass banks and on oyster beds. McDonald noted a balmy water temperature in the mid-to-upper 80s Wednesday and Thursday. Anglers are reminded South Carolina’s new flounder limits are in effect, with a minimum size limit of 15 inches, a daily bag limit of 10 fish per person and a daily boat limit of 20.

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

Comments: It’s been a windy and rough week, not exactly what anglers were looking for during the week of the Fourth of July. Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters out of Murrells Inlet found a good flounder bite on Paradise Reef, located three miles east of the inlet, early in the week. “Since then it’s been few and far between,” said Maples. Maples has also found weakfish and mainly undersized black sea bass (13-inch minimum size) on the reef in 3- to 5-foot seas. “It was doable but I didn’t want to go any further out,” Maples said. It’s been a week of heavy surf and muddy water along the beach, meaning scattered catches on Grand Strand piers. Scott Skrzydlinski of Cherry Grove Pier reports decent catches of black drum, whiting and croaker but very few blues and Spanish mackerel thanks to the muddy conditions. Skrzydlinski has also seen catches of small pompano and spadefish. The ocean water temperature at Cherry Grove Pier was 80 degrees on the surface at 4:50 p.m. Thursday, and 78 degrees on the bottom.

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

Comments: Bottom fishing is very good on bottom spots in depths of 90 feet and beyond, headed by vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, porgy, amberjack and grouper. Scamp and gag are the most common grouper species encountered. King mackerel can be found literally anywhere there is bait from the beach to the Gulf Stream, but the best bet is on spots in depths of 50-70 feet. Sailfish action is at a peak in the vicinity of the Gulf Stream, but don’t be surprised to find sails 35-40 miles out in areas such as the Parking Lot. There have been scattered catches of blackfin tuna, dolphin and wahoo by trolling boats. 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 river levels are very good, with the Waccamaw at Conway reading 7.01 feet at 3:15 p.m. Thursday while the Little Pee Dee at Galivants Ferry was at 5.88 at 3 p.m. “The rivers look very good,” said Ronald ‘Catfish’ Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. “I’m seeing a lot, a lot, of fish. Bream still, and a lot of catfish.” Most anglers are floating crickets along the banks in 1-4 feet of water for bream. Catfish will hit a variety of baits including black salties, cut eel, cut shad and cut mullet. The heat is on temperature-wise, so bass action is best early and late in the day.