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Springlike weather brings fishing surge

Nathan Richardson of Conway shows off a red drum caught in the Winyah Bay vicinity Wednesday with Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service. Photo courtesy of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service
Grand Strand Fishing Report: Angler activity surges with spring-like weather conditions

By Gregg Holshouser

February 07, 2019 06:13 PM

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

Comments: Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown took brothers Nathan and Jacob Richardson of Conway out Wednesday amid spring-like weather conditions. McDonald noted a general water temperature reading of 57 degrees, except right in Winyah Bay’s main channel, which was 49 degrees due to cold freshwater flowing down the rivers. McDonald targeted spotted seatrout to start then changed tactics. “We caught those little fellows (trout) and tried something else,” said McDonald. Red drum were McDonald’s Plan B and the crew caught 25, with most measuring within South Carolina’s 15-23 inch slot limit. “Most were in the slot with 1 or 2 undersize and several over the slot,” said McDonald. The reds were caught on cut shrimp on a Carolina rig along with soft plastics. Capt. Chris Ossman of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters found reds receptive on the flats on an outgoing tide in the Little River vicinity Wednesday. The reds hit Vudu shrimp and Berkeley Gulp shrimp in the shallows on the Intracoastal Waterway in clear water.

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

Comments: Nearshore reefs such as Paradise, Pawleys, Jim Caudle, Ron McManus and the newest addition to the Pawleys Reef, the Jessica Perry Memorial Reef, are holding sheepshead and black drum. Fiddler crabs are the go-to bait for sheepshead, and black drum will hit fiddlers and shrimp. Black sea bass numbers are good on the reefs but be aware of the 13-inch minimum size limit. Other possibilities on the reefs are tautog, weakfish and flounder. Micheal Wallace of Cherry Grove Pier reports very good angler activity this week with the balmy February weather, but only a few smallish whiting have been caught. Wallace noted warm – for February – ocean water temperatures including 55 on the surface and 52 on the bottom Thursday afternoon.

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

Comments: Greg Coleman of Greenville headed out on his 30 Sportsman on a calm ocean Wednesday and was joined by Capt. Englis Glover, Capt. Justin Witten and Capt. Adam Goodwin. “We went through five bags of ballyhoo, and had one blackfin (tuna) and one wahoo bite,” said Glover. “There were lots of bonito and barracuda. The ocean was beautiful. Two to 3 miles from the Winyah Scarp the water temperature jumped up six degrees (into the 70s). Everything was perfect except I don’t think the fish were feeding.” On the way in, the crew stopped in the Parking Lot in 105-110 feet of water and, as Glover says, “went to the grocery store,” catching black sea bass, triggerfish, red porgy, vermilion snapper. They also released a 20-plus inch red snapper. Numerous closures remain in effect for reef species in South Atlantic waters. The annual shallow-water grouper spawning season closure is in effect through the month of April. Greater amberjack is closed until March 1, and deep-water blueline tilefish and snowy grouper are closed until May 1. Red snapper are also off-limits indefinitely and must be released.

Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.

Comments: With water levels trending down, fishing action has ramped up on the Waccamaw River. “Fishing is on fire,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle. “The Waccamaw is (producing) the nicer quality of fish.” Anglers are lead-lining on the bottom with worms to catch bream. Catfish are hitting large shiners, plus cut shad. Crappie are taking medium shiners. Stalvey recommends using crankbaits and shaky heads for bass. The Waccamaw at Conway was at 8.83 feet Thursday at 2 p.m. and trending down.

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