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Fishing report for Dec 22 2016

Fishing report: Milder temps make for better fishing of area estuaries, freshwater

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By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

Estuary
Look For: Spotted seatrout, black drum, red drum, flounder, sheepshead, tautog.
Comments: Area jetties at Winyah Bay, Murrells Inlet and Little River are currently hot spots with spotted seatrout and black drum the best species to target. Red drum, tautog and sheepshead can also be found around the rocks. Capt. Rayburn Poston, founder of the Student Angler League Tournament Trail (SALTTFishing.com), headed out on Murrells Inlet with Jerry Condenzio of Capt. Crumbs Outpost in Myrtle Beach on Wednesday. The duo found plenty of black drum, catching eight keepers within the 14- to 27-inch slot limit and releasing nine more using cut shrimp on a Carolina rig. The black drum were all in the 13- to 19-inch range. They also caught a few undersized red drum and one over the 15- to 23-inch slot limit. Poston noted a water temperature of 56-57 degrees near the Murrells Inlet jetties, which bodes well for trout action as the calendar turns to 2017. There are no major cold fronts in the 10-day forecast, and as long as the water temperature remains above 50 degrees, the solid trout bite should continue. Trout will hit a variety of baits including live shrimp, plastic grubs or artificial lures such as shrimp or Mirrolures, cast or trolled.
Inshore
Look For: Black sea bass, weakfish, black drum, red drum, tautog, flounder, whiting, croaker.
Comments: The near-shore reefs are the place to be with plenty of black sea bass around. Black sea bass have a daily bag limit of seven per person with a 13-inch minimum size limit. As of mid-week there appeared to be more throwbacks than keepers on spots like Paradise Reef and Jim Caudle Reef, so head to deeper water to find bigger fish. The reefs are also holding weakfish, tautog and flounder, with sheepshead likely to make a showing soon. Action is slow on Grand Strand piers with a few whiting, croaker, perch and black drum caught. Most of the black drum caught off the piers have been in the 10-inch range, below the 14- to 27-inch slot limit for the species, but catching a keeper is not out of the question. Ocean water temperature Wednesday at the Cherry Grove Pier was 54 degrees Wednesday.
Offshore
Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, dolphin, grouper, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, porgy, triggerfish, grunts, amberjack.
Comments: Sea conditions have not been conducive for offshore fishing in general the last few weeks. But if the opportunity arises, trolling action should be good for wahoo in areas such as the Winyah Scarp, Black Jack Hole and MacMarlen Ledge. All anglers have another week to harvest grouper before the annual Shallow-water Grouper Spawning Season Closure goes into effect Jan. 1, and continuing 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. Plenty of other reef species are available on bottom fishing trips though, including black sea bass, vermilion snapper, porgy, triggerfish, grunts and amberjack, but red snapper are off-limits in the South Atlantic region and must be released.
Freshwater
Look For: Bream, crappie, bass, catfish.
Comments: Despite a cold start to the week, Ronald ‘Catfish’ Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway reports good action for bream, crappie, catfish and bass. “The bass fishing has been phenomenal,” said Stalvey. “They’ve been smoking them on the Waccamaw and on the North Santee fishing’s still great.” Stalvey said plastic worms fished on the bottom, shad rap crank baits and jerk baits have worked for bass. Bream and morgans are taking worms fished on the bottom on a two-hook rig. “Some are still shallow in 5-6 feet but most are in the 8-12 foot range,” said Stalvey. Crappie action has been very good around structure with fish hitting minnows or jigs. Cut eel is producing good catches of catfish.