Photo courtesy O-Fish-Al Expeditions
Grand Strand Fishing Report: Trout, reds remain active after coldest weather of winter
By Gregg Holshouser
January 24, 2019 06:50 PM,
Look For: Spotted seatrout, red drum, black drum, flounder, sheepshead.
Comments: The coldest weather of the winter rolled through early this week, but it wasn’t enough to halt the action of spotted seatrout. Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions in Murrells Inlet found trout receptive on Wednesday at the jetties and in the creeks. Connolly was fishing with Jeff Bogdanski of Pawleys Island along with Mike Kachman of YAK Outdoor Guides, and the trio hit the jetties first. “As soon as we started fishing, we started catching fish,” said Connolly. “We got pushed back into the creeks (by rough conditions) and we caught fish there but they were small. There are definitely still plenty of fish around. That cold snap didn’t seem to have any effect.” Connolly, who noted an early water temperature of 48 degrees and 50 in the afternoon, had one definite suggestion for bait. “Live shrimp is the way to go if you can get your hands on them,” said Connolly, who also reported black drum and red drum are hitting dead shrimp fished on the bottom in the creeks. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service found trout receptive last Saturday before the cold weather moved in, fishing in the Winyah Bay vicinity. “We caught a bunch of little trout, a lot of them right on the verge of being keepers,” said McDonald, who used soft plastics to catch them. Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters had success with red drum on both Sunday and Wednesday in the Little River vicinity. On Sunday, Kelly and company floated live mullet at the jetties to entice the reds. Then on Wednesday, the reds were cooperative on the low tide. “The reds are in super shallow water right now,” said Kelly. “They’re in puddles trying to get away from not only fishermen, but dolphin. They are on high alert.”
Look For: Black sea bass, sheepshead, black drum, flounder, weakfish, whiting, croaker.
Comments: This week has either been cold and windy or just plain windy, limiting opportunities for anglers to get to the near-shore artificial reefs. January and February are prime months to find sheepshead, along with black drum, on reefs such as Paradise, Pawleys, Jim Caudle and Ron McManus. Fiddler crabs and clams are the bait of choice for the tricky sheepshead, plus black drum. Also look for black sea bass, weakfish, tautog and flounder on the reefs. Michael Wallace of Cherry Grove Pier reported the ocean water temperature remains above the 50-degree mark, with a reading of 51 degrees at midday on Thursday. Wallace reports small whiting have been caught this week, plus one 17-inch flounder.
Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, king mackerel, dolphin, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grunts, porgy, amberjack, grouper.
Comments: It’s been a breezy and rough week in the offshore waters, and boats have overwhelmingly stayed at the dock. When conditions permit, trolling is producing wahoo and blackfin tuna. There are numerous reef species that cannot presently be harvested in South Atlantic waters, but plenty more that can. The annual shallow-water grouper spawning season closure is in effect through the month of April and includes gag grouper, black grouper, red grouper, scamp, red hind, rock hind, yellowmouth grouper, yellowfin grouper, graysby, and coney. Greater amberjack is closed until March 1, and deep-water blueline tilefish and snowy grouper are closed until May 1. Of course, red snapper are off-limits indefinitely in the South Atlantic Region and must be released. The good news is there are plenty of tasty reef species such as vermilion snapper, black sea bass, grey triggerfish, red porgy and grunts that are available for harvest.
Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.
Comments: Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey reports three Conway anglers hit the Ricefields vicinity on the lower Waccamaw River about a week ago and came home with a nice mess of fish. “The best area is the Ricefields, where you’re getting good tides,” said Stalvey. The trio caught bream lead-lining two hook rigs with red worms and nightcrawlers, crappie floating medium shiners and catfish on large shiners. “These were very thick, healthy fish,” said Stalvey. “It’s nice to see some good fish. Hopefully the Waccamaw will keep on a consistent fall. It ought to be right in another 2-3 weeks.”