Those fishing the Grand Strand can expect fishing to be a tad more difficult this weekend, as colder weather moves into the area.
Approach of frigid temps has anglers expecting the worst
JASON LEE jlee@thesunnews
BY GREGG HOLSHOUSER
For The Sun News
Look For: Spotted seatrout, black drum, red drum, flounder, sheepshead, tautog.
Comments: It’s been a great autumn and early winter for spotted seatrout, black drum and red drum, with the water temperature remaining in the mid-to-upper 50s. But those nice water temps are about to change, with three straight frigid days in store beginning Saturday. “It’ll definitely drop that water temperature down into the mid-to-upper 40s, and that ain’t good,” said Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown. While water temperatures in the mid-40s can be troublesome for spotted seatrout, the good news is the forecast calls for a quick warm-up back into the 60s by the middle of next week. Before the cold spell, McDonald had good success with trout on plastic grubs (Calbait, Saltwater Assassin) with chartreuse and Opening Night popular colors. Catches of black drum have also been very good on live or cut shrimp.
Look For: Black sea bass, weakfish, black drum, tautog, flounder, whiting, croaker.
Comments: Black sea bass on the near-shore reefs are the best bet within 10 miles of the beach, but remember the members of the grouper family have a daily bag limit of seven fish per person with a 13-inch minimum size limit. A variety of baits will work for sea bass, led by cut mullet, shrimp or squid. Also look for sheepshead, weakfish, tautog and flounder on the reefs. Action is generally slow on the Grand Strand piers that remain open, with scattered catches of smallish whiting, croaker, perch and black drum caught. Black drum have a 14- to 27-inch slot limit with most fish caught off the piers well below the slot. Ocean water temperature Wednesday at the Cherry Grove Pier was 55 degrees Thursday afternoon.
Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, grouper, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, porgy, triggerfish, grunts, amberjack.
Comments: Ed Keelin of Georgetown Landing Marina notes the water temperature in the vicinity of the Winyah Scarp was 76 degrees around New Year’s Day, with wahoo and blackfin tuna available. Several boats made it out at the first of the year and most caught two to four wahoo per trip. Ocean Isle Fishing Center reports an 80-pound wahoo was landed from the 100/400 area. The annual Shallow-water Grouper Spawning Season Closure went into effect on January 1 and continues through April 30. The closure means no recreational and commercial harvest or possession of gag, black grouper, red grouper, scamp, red hind, rock hind, coney, graysby, yellowfin grouper, and yellowmouth grouper is allowed for the four-month period. Bottom-fishing trips will produce plenty of other species, though, including black sea bass, vermilion snapper, porgy, triggerfish, grunts and amberjack. Red snapper are off-limits in the South Atlantic region and must be released.
Look For: Bream, crappie, bass, catfish.
Comments: “Crappie fishing has been phenomenal,” said Ronald ‘Catfish’ Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. “I’ve seen some very nice ones, very healthy crappie.” Some real slabs have been landed from the Waccamaw, including one 2-pound, 4-ounce specimen reported by Stalvey. Medium-size shiners are producing the crappie from areas such as creek mouths and deep holes around structure. Stalvey also reports excellent bass fishing with shiners, shad rap, jerkbaits and plastic worms all producing fish. Stalvey notes a bass tournament out of Bucksport was won by an angler with a 15.5-pound five-fish aggregate. “Crankbaits are the hot topic,” said Stalvey. Bream are hitting red worms and nightcrawlers lead-lined on the bottom while eels and shiners are producing catfish. Action figures to slow down this weekend, with frigid weather on tap. “This weekend’s going to be rough,” said Stalvey.