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Lots of good bets for fishing this weekend

image: men fishing

Casting a line? A lot of good bets this weekend in area waterways
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

Estuary
Look For: Flounder, spotted seatrout, black drum, red drum, bluefish.
Comments: Flounder catches continue to improve in areas such as Cherry Grove, Murrells Inlet and Pawleys, as the water temperature warms into the mid 70s, even the upper 70s on lower tide stages during the day. Spotted seatrout, red drum and black drum are also available but catches are scattered. Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Charters in Little River has observed catches have been best on the last few hours of the falling tide and the start of the rise. Kelly says trout are hitting Vudu shrimp and mud minnows fished on popping corks, with red drum and flounder hitting mud minnows and shrimp fished on the bottom on jig heads. Look for black drum taking shrimp around docks. Kelly has observed water temperatures in the 74 to 75-degree range. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown had a solid trip on Thursday, catching a variety of species in the Winyah Bay vicinity. McDonald’s crew caught four flounder, six trout, two lady fish and whiting. McDonald notes red drum are very scattered. “We catch one here, ride 10 miles and catch another,” McDonald said.
Inshore
Look For: King mackerel, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, whiting, croaker, black drum, pompano, spadefish, flounder, cobia.

Comments: After a windy weekend, calmer conditions and pretty water prevailed along the beach this week. Predictably, so did the Spanish mackerel and bluefish. Anglers have had success jigging both species off Grand Strand piers Monday through Thursday, using mackerel trees and gold-hook rigs. Shrimp fished on the bottom is producing mainly whiting and croaker, along with some black drum including a few keepers within the 14-26 inch slot limit. A few sizable pompano have also been caught on shrimp, from the piers and the surf. Steve Gann of the Cherry Grove Pier reported a water temperature of 74 degrees Thursday afternoon. Spanish can be found around bait from near the beach to 10 miles offshore, especially around hard-bottom areas and artificial reefs. With the water temperature in the mid-70s, also look for spadefish on the near-shore reefs up to the 10-12 mile range. Head to bottom spots in depths of 55 feet and beyond to find good numbers of king mackerel. All cobia must be released in 2017 in all waters off South Carolina.

Offshore
Look For: Dolphin, wahoo, tuna, billfish, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, porgy, triggerfish, grunts, grouper, amberjack.
Comments: It is absolutely prime time for offshore trolling, especially for good numbers of dolphin plus blackfin tuna and wahoo. The South Carolina Governo’s Cup Billfishing Series is underway at Bohicket Marina and the 50th annual Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament is two weeks away, so billfish are also in the trolling mix. Bottom fishing is very good on spots in depths of 90 feet and beyond, with vermilion snapper the dominant species. A good mix of black sea bass, triggerfish, porgy, grunts and a few grouper are also available, with plenty of sharks to avoid. Red snapper are off-limits and must be released in the Southeast Region.
Freshwater
Look For: Bream, catfish, bass, bream.
Comments: Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway reports bream fishing is excellent on the Waccamaw and the Intracoastal Waterway, with fish hitting crickets and worms in 2-4 feet of water. The Waccamaw from Conway to the Ricefields is producing good catches of fish. Stalvey says catfish catches are good on eels, shiners and frozen shad and herring. “There haven’t been any giants, but good ones,” said Stalvey. Bass are in a little deeper water. “The topwater bite had kind of shut off,” said Stalvey, who has used swim baits and crawfish lures to catch fish this week. A few anglers continue to catch crappie on minnows and jigs. As for the Pee Dee rivers, Stalvey says they are “high as a Georgia pine.”