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Nicer weather brings out the fish

Gene Ward of Conway lands a pin fish on the pier at Myrtle Beach State Park. Myrtle Beach residents and visitors can find a natural retreat at Myrtle Beach State Park where guests have access to the beach, fishing pier, a lush maritime Forest and many other attractions. Jason Lee
Fishing report: Tranquil seas producing potential for great offshore action

By Gregg Holshouser

For The Sun News

November 30, 2017 04:18 PM

UPDATED December 01, 2017 06:36 PM

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

Comments: Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service has been known to downplay his catches, so it is of note when the captain says “It’s been kind of good.” McDonald had a couple stellar days this week on Winyah Bay, catching numerous spotted seatrout on plastic grubs on 1/8 or 1/4-ounce jig heads. “It doesn’t seem to make any difference what color,” said McDonald, who noted a water temperature of 55-57 degrees. On the Wednesday trip, McDonald’s crew also caught five red drum, including three keepers within the 15- to 23-inch slot limit, also on grubs. McDonald said the trout ranged up to 18 inches in size. Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters in Little River took a trio of old fishing buddies out Tuesday and had great success on a rising tide with trout and black drum. The crew caught the black drum on live shrimp fished on the bottom on a 1/4-ounce jig head. The trout were landed on live shrimp fished on adjustable-depth torpedo floats. The crew also caught flounder on Vudu shrimp. “Fishing’s been excellent,” said Kelly. Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters in Murrells Inlet had a super catch of a dozen trout and six black drum while floating live shrimp in the creeks of the inlet earlier this week.

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

Comments: There is still activity in the surf line as December arrives. “It was real active last weekend with a lot of little stuff,” said Steve Gann of Cherry Grove Pier. On into the week, catches of whiting, croaker and pompano have come in off the pier plus a few keeper flounder. While most of the whiting have been small, there have been some bull whiting caught. Gann noted an ocean water temperature of 60 degrees Wednesday afternoon. Maples ventured out to a hard-bottom area off Surfside Beach and found weakfish active. “The weakfish are still thick as thieves,” said Maples. Artificial reefs such as Paradise and Jim Caudle are holding numerous black sea bass, most under the 13-inch minimum size limit with a few keepers, plus weakfish and flounder.

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

Comments: Jeff Martini of Mid-Town Bistro in North Myrtle Beach and his crew aboard Dirty Martini headed out 70 nautical miles to the 100/400 area Tuesday, riding on slick seas. The crew found 77-degree water, a mix of blue and green, and plenty of bait stacked from the bottom to the middle of the water column. They also found wahoo, and caught eight ranging in size from 30 to 60 pounds, plus a 20-pound king mackerel and a dolphin. Martini noted they trolled ballyhoo, with purple/blue skirts the hot color. Capt. Danny Carey of Careyon Charters out of Murrells Inlet hit the Winyah Scarp on Tuesday, and came home with five wahoo and 10 blackfin tuna. Capt. Shane Bashor of Side Kick Charters headed out to 80 feet of water in the Parking Lot vicinity earlier this week for a full-day combo trip. First, Bashor trolled to produce 10 king mackerel and several bonito before switching to the bottom. The bottom fishing was very productive as his crew caught a pair of gag grouper in the 17-18 pound range, released a pair of red snapper plus caught numerous vermilion snapper, black sea bass and white grunts. The Greater amberjack fishery is closed to harvest for recreational anglers and will remained closed until March 2018. Also, cobia cannot be harvested in 2017 in South Carolina waters (to three miles offshore) or federal waters (beyond three miles) and must be released.

Look For: Bream, catfish, bass, crappie.

Comments: The rivers remain low and fishing success is high. The Waccamaw River at Conway continues to make good tides, with a water level reading of 6.47 feet on a rising tide at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday. The Little Pee Dee at Galivants Ferry remains low, at 3.82 feet Wednesday at 6 p.m. Bream catches have been good, lead-lining worms on the bottom. Crappie catches are superb with fish hitting crappie minnows around brush or other structure in creek mouths and lakes. Catfish are hitting cut eels, mullet or live bream.