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Rain brings familiar fish back to the area.

image: river flooding
Recent rains cause river levels to rise, but mark arrival of familiar fish
Floodwaters swamp the Reeves Ferry boat landing Monday on the Waccamaw River. The Sun News file photo

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

Estuary

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

Comments: The rivers that feed into Winyah Bay are up – with the Waccamaw just below flood stage – but Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service doesn’t think that’s a bad thing. McDonald lost a couple of trips early in the week due to the weather but is looking for solid fishing in the days to come. “It’s going to push all that stuff that’s up the rivers back into the bay,” said McDonald. “The bait and everything else has gone up the rivers and now it’s going to be coming back.” Tarpon remain available in Winyah Bay and points south. Weather impacted the week for Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters, who ran only one trip, on Wednesday. Kelly’s crew caught six spotted seatrout including a four-pounder on live shrimp under popping corks. The crew also landed several flounder on live mud minnows, fished with a split shot.
Inshore

Look For: Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, bluefish, black sea bass, spadefish, weakfish, flounder, whiting, croaker, pompano, black drum, sheepshead and red drum.

Comments: After a tropical system eased by early in the week, anglers returned to the water to get a feel for what is happening on the near-shore spots. The Painkiller crew out of Murrells Inlet, including owner Dr. Jason Rosenberg and Capt. Jay Sconyers, found Spanish mackerel very receptive on a quick Wednesday afternoon trip. About 3-5 miles offshore near Paradise Reef, they found birds working and schools of Spanish jumping, and the action was hot. They used jigfish lures to catch numerous fish from keeper size (12-inch minimum size limit) up to 24 inches. King mackerel have also been found on spots from 10-15 miles offshore in the last few days. Fishing quickly bounced back along the beach in the storm’s wake. Dock Jarman of Cherry Grove Pier reports scattered catches of whiting, croaker, black drum, flounder and pompano from the pier this week. Numerous black drum have been caught with nearly all under the 14-27 inch slot limit for the species. Jarman noted a surface water temperature of 82 degrees and a bottom reading of 80 Thursday at 4:30 p.m.
Offshore

Look For: Blackfin tuna, wahoo, dolphin, sailfish, vermilion snapper, triggerfish, white grunts, red porgy, black sea bass, grouper, amberjack.

Comments: Before the weather went bad last weekend, Capt .Derek Treffinger of Ocean Isle Fishing Center took a crew out aboard the OIFC Catch All to conclude a class of bottom-fishing school conducted out of the fishing center. According to OIFC.com, Treffinger fished a hard-bottom area in 115 feet of water and used live pinfish to produce several large scamp, plus amberjack and other reef species. Bottom fishing is also producing vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, porgy and grunts. Wahoo action has been good in areas such as the Winyah Scarp and Georgetown Hole, with blackfin tuna and a few dolphin also available. Look for kings around bottom spots in depths of 60-100 feet. Cobia cannot be harvested in 2017 in South Carolina waters (to three miles offshore) or federal waters (beyond three miles) and must be released. Plenty of red snapper can be found on bottom spots from depths of 60 feet on out, but they must be released in the South Atlantic region.
Freshwater

Look For: Bream, catfish, bass, crappie.

Comments: Recent rains have local rivers way up. The Waccamaw River in Conway was up to a reading of 10.53 feet, just below minor flood stage, at 3:15 p.m. Thursday. The Little Pee Dee at Galivants Ferry was also high, at 6.7 feet at 4 p.m. Thursday. For bream, work crickets under floats along the banks, and don’t be afraid to fish deep. Use cut eels, mullet or shad in deep holes to catch catfish.