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Red Snapper mini season created

March 16, 2019 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Red Snapper mini season created

Submitted photo

Changes to red snapper mini-season going into effect. Here’s what’s new for 2019

By Gregg Holshouser
March 15, 2019 05:18 PM,

For the third straight year, there will be a recreational mini-season for red snapper in South Atlantic waters but the season will last for five total days, one day shorter than the two previous seasons.

Earlier this month, NOAA Fisheries announced the dates for the 2019 red snapper season will be the weekend of July 12, 13, 14 and again on July 19 and 20.

The limit again is one red snapper per person per day with no minimum size limit and applies to private and charter boat/head boat vessels. The captain and crew on for-hire vessels may also harvest one fish per day.

Access to red snapper has been all but shut down for South Atlantic recreational anglers for nearly a decade now, dating back to 2009 when the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) determined the stock was overfished and undergoing overfishing.

The South Atlantic red snapper fishery was closed in 2010 and a 35-year rebuilding plan was put in place.

Over the last nine years, there have been sporadic mini-seasons, including consecutive seasons in 2017, 2018 and now 2019, but largely the species has been closed to harvest since 2010.

The season lasted for six days in 2017 and 2018, but has been shortened by a day this year because NOAA Fisheries determined the catch by the recreational fishing sector in 2018 exceeded the recreational annual catch limit.

Since NOAA Fisheries estimates the season length based upon catch rates from the previous year, the 2019 season was shortened by one day to reduce the likelihood that the landings would exceed the recreational annual catch limit.

The 2019 recreational catch limit for red snapper in the South Atlantic Region, which stretches from the North Carolina-Virginia line southward through the entire east coast of Florida, is 29,656 fish.

The commercial red snapper season opens July 8 and runs through Jan. 1, 2020 unless the commercial annual catch limit is met before that date. The 2019 commercial catch limit is 12,854 fish.

Capt. Danny Juel, 61, of Fish Screamer Charters has been plying the waters off Little River for about 40 years, as a charter captain and a commercial fisherman. In Juel’s view, the red snapper fishery is in great shape.

“They are literally taking over the bottom in a lot of spots,” said Juel. “There’s tons of them. A lot of places you have to pull off the spot because you can’t keep a bait down trying to catch grouper or (other fish) because of the snapper you’re catching.

“They’re an aggressive fish, and they’re the first ones to the bait. You can stop on a spot and (catch) them as hard as you want to go but you can’t keep them. You have to dodge your snappers is what you’ve got to do.”

In past years, Juel has attended South Atlantic Fishery Management Council meetings to voice his thoughts and observations from the water on the red snapper stock.

“I’ve gone to meetings on numerous occasions,” said Juel, “but I’ve felt like I’ve wasted my breath. I quit going to those meetings about three years ago.”

Juel would like to see a longer red snapper season instead of a few weekends.

“Why don’t you have like a two-week opening rather than sporadic days?” Juel questioned. “I don’t agree with it but obviously it doesn’t matter what I think. I guess at least they’re trying to give us something.”

Trout catch consistent

March 15, 2019 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Trout catch consistent

Capt. Landon Brice shows off a 30-inch spotted seatrout caught while fishing with Capt. Chris Ossman of Captain Smiley Charters in Little River. Captain Smiley Fishing Charters
Grand Strand Fishing Report: The trout catch has been consistent in area estuaries

By Gregg Holshouser
March 14, 2019 06:42 PM,

Estuary

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

Comments: Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters had an excellent trip on Thursday in the Little River vicinity, producing a dozen spotted seatrout, a flounder just under the 15-inch minimum size limit and a few small black drum. “We’ve been consistently catching trout all week on live mud minnows or live shrimp,” said Kelly. “It’s been excellent, actually.” On Wednesday, Kelly had good success with red drum using live shrimp. Kelly’s cohort, Capt. Chris Ossman fished with Capt. Landon Brice and the pair hit the Little River jetties to catch and release two trout measuring 28 and 30 inches on large live shrimp. “Drifting live shrimp at the rocks can be pretty productive,” said Kelly, who noted a water temperature in the 57-58 degree range this week, with some lower 60s in shallow water. On a blustery day Wednesday, Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters hit the creeks of Murrells Inlet and found trout receptive while floating live shrimp. “There’s a ton of trout in the creeks, but not a lot of keepers,” said Maples, who noted the trout were in the 12-13 inch range. The floated shrimp also produced a flounder, again just shy of the 15-inch minimum size limit. After a mild winter, Maples noticed something about the flounder. “He was fat, and this time of year they can be real skinny,” said Maples. Maples noted “snot grass” is thick on the north end of Murrells Inlet, and observed a water temperature of 58 degrees.
Inshore

Look For: Black sea bass, sheepshead, black drum, flounder, weakfish, whiting.

Comments: Spring is on the way, and so are pelagic species such as bluefish, Spanish mackerel, king mackerel and cobia. But they aren’t here yet. Grand Strand piers have been active this week with Spring Break and warmer weather, and Skyler Parks of the Apache Pier reports anglers continue to catch small whiting, croaker, and puffers. Parks noted a Thursday afternoon water temperature of 62 degrees on the surface and 58 on the bottom. Look for bluefish to show up soon, followed by the Spanish, kings and culminating in May with cobia. For now, near-shore artificial reefs are holding black sea bass, sheepshead, black drum, flounder and possibly red drum.
Offshore

Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, king mackerel, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grunts, porgy, amberjack.

Comments: Capt. Danny Carey of Careyon Charters headed out Wednesday aboard the 58-foot sportfishing vessel Wasted Time, owned by Wally Lee of Bishopville, in search of wahoo, and they found them. The crew went 8 for 8 on wahoo including a 59-pounder that was weighed into the S.C. Wahoo Series. The other wahoo weighed between 30 and 45 pounds in the Georgetown Hole vicinity. The crew started out high-speed trolling and caught three wahoo, then trolled ballyhoo and caught only bonito and barracuda. They went back to high-speed trolling and landed five more wahoo. Carey noted a water temperature of 72.5 degrees and “sloppy” seas of 5-6 feet. “We didn’t see another boat,” said Carey. Bottom fishing is excellent for vermilion snapper, black sea bass, red porgy and grey triggerfish. Closures of reef species currently in effect for recreational anglers in South Atlantic waters include the annual shallow-water grouper spawning season closure and deep-water blueline tilefish and snowy grouper closure until May 1. Red snapper are also off-limits indefinitely and must be released.
Freshwater

Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.

Comments: Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway looks at the receding water on local rivers and the weather forecast which includes seasonal temperatures and little rain, and knows there is good fishing ahead. “The water is falling back down and the weather looks nice,” said Stalvey. “Fishing is only going to get better from here.” Stalvey suggests targeting bream in holes in 10-15 feet of water using red worms, but knows they will very shortly be moving up on the banks as the water temperature continues to rise. In short, bream are in transition, so take float rods and lead-line rods. Catfish are hitting live shiners and fresh cut shad in deeper water, but as the bream move shallower, so will some of the catfish. Crappie are hitting jigs and medium shiners. “Bass are roaming around and should be on beds any day now, hot and heavy,” said Stalvey, who recommends using spinner baits, chatter baits, shallow-running crank baits and Texas-rigged worms.

Wahoo running offshore

March 8, 2019 Live Great Outdoors Blog Comments Off on Wahoo running offshore

Dr. Jason Rosenberg of Painkiller shows off a 75-pound wahoo caught Thursday out of Murrells Inlet. Photo courtesy of Painkiller fishing

Grand Strand Fishing Report: Murrells Inlet crew finds run of wahoo offshore

By Gregg Holshouser
March 07, 2019 06:19 PM,

Estuary

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

Comments: Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown found decent success on a trip in the Winyah Bay vicinity last weekend. McDonald worked the bay and areas to the south on Saturday, with his crew catching eight spotted seatrout and four red drum. Soft plastic grubs produced the trout while McDonald enticed the reds to hit cut shrimp. McDonald noted he ran across some 60 degree water on the trip, but the cold front a few days later ended that. Capt. Dan Connolly and a few hardy anglers braved the cold, windy conditions on Wednesday to land a nice catch of spotted seatrout and red drum in Murrells Inlet. Connolly continues to catch gator trout on live shrimp.
Inshore

Look For: Black sea bass, sheepshead, black drum, flounder, weakfish, whiting.

Comments: Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters had to move out to 60 feet of water on a Thursday trip but the captain said he “tore up some (black) sea bass.” Maples started at the 10-mile range and was fishing in 54 degree water but found only small black sea bass at that 40-foot depth. He made the move to depths of 60 feet and found much bigger black sea bass, along with 58 degree water and an active ocean. “I think the bigger (sea bass) have started moving on out,” said Maples. “There was a lot of life out there, dolphin and birds diving.” The same activity – birds diving on bait – was seen from the Apache Pier in Myrtle Beach, reports Norma Madaras of the pier. The action was spotted well offshore of the pier, and anglers on the pier continue to catch small whiting and croaker. Madaras reported an ocean water temperature of 57 degrees.
Offshore

Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, king mackerel, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grunts, porgy, amberjack.

Comments: Dr. Jason Rosenberg, owner of Painkiller, and Capt. Jay Sconyers had a whirlwind trolling trip on Thursday out of Murrells Inlet and found wahoo at home in the offshore waters. Despite a short amount of trolling time, the crew brought home four wahoo including a smoking 75-pounder. Trolling boats are also catching blackfin tuna, and a few dolphin were also caught off the Beaufort-Hilton Head Island area last week. Bottom fishing continues to be very good for vermilion snapper, black sea bass, red porgy and grey triggerfish. Closures of reef species currently in effect for recreational anglers in South Atlantic waters include the annual shallow-water grouper spawning season closure and deep-water blueline tilefish and snowy grouper closure until May 1. Red snapper are also off-limits indefinitely and must be released.
Freshwater

Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.

Comments: A fast-moving downpour early in the week brought a rise once again to the rivers, a recurring theme since September 2018. “It wants to get good and then (the river levels) shoot back up again,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. “I’ve never seen so much water in my life.” Before the rain last weekend, Stalvey called conditions “perfect.” The Waccamaw was peaking at just over 10 feet at Conway on Thursday and the Little Pee Dee was forecast to inch into Minor Flood Stage at 9 feet Saturday. Right now, Stalvey suggests targeting bream in holes in 10-15 feet of water using red worms. Catfish are hitting live shiners and fresh cut shad. “This time of year (catfish) are in deeper water,” said Stalvey. “Focus on deep holes and channels.” Crappie are hitting jigs and medium shiners. Bass have been nosing around shallower water in pre-spawn mode recently and Stalvey recommends using spinner baits, chatter baits, shallow-running crank baits and Texas-rigged worms.