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Temperature varies, fishing is solid

Despite temperature fluctuations, red drum plentiful, bottom fishing solid offshore

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

March 01, 2018 06:53 PM

Updated 9 hours 49 minutes ago
Estuary

Look For: Red drum, black drum, spotted seatrout, flounder, sheepshead, tautog.Comments: Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service and his daughter, Amy McDonald, headed south of Georgetown in search of red drum on a four-hour trip Wednesday. The duo floated what McDonald called “stinky shrimp,” also known as cut shrimp, to catch a total of 31 reds. The reds were mostly within South Carolina’s 15- to 23-inch slot, ranging in size from 16 to 24 inches. “These fish were grouped up, we caught them in three different places,” said McDonald, who noted a water temperature of 66-67 degrees. On the north end, Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters also found redfish receptive. On a Wednesday trip, Kelly caught a dozen reds measuring from 17 to 27 inches while fishing “super shallow” water, targeting three-foot-deep potholes in the marsh creeks. Kelly used mud minnows and Berkeley Gulp shrimp on 1/4-ounce jig heads to catch the reds. Kelly also landed an 18-inch trout on a Vudu shrimp on a dropoff along a grass bank. Kelly noted a water temperature ranging from the upper 50s to lower 60s. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources is asking anglers to practice catch and release of all spotted seatrout through the end of September. In North Carolina waters, spotted seatrout are closed to harvest for all fishermen, recreational and commercial, until June 15.
Inshore

Look For: Sheepshead, black sea bass, black drum, tautog, weakfish, flounder, whiting, bluefish, croaker.Comments: The quick rise in water temperature over the past few weeks had settled in to a reading of 58 degrees on the surface and bottom at Cherry Grove Pier on Thursday afternoon. Ronnie Goodwin of the pier reports whiting and croaker are providing some action. “They’re catching a little whiting here and there and some croaker,” said Goodwin. The best action on the inshore waters continues to be provided by sheepshead on the near-shore reefs. Anglers are reminded there is a daily bag limit of 10 sheepshead per person, a boat limit of 30 per day and a minimum size limit of 14 inches (total length). Also look for black sea bass (13-inch minimum size limit), weakfish, tautog and flounder on the reefs.
Offshore

Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, king mackerel, grouper, vermilion snapper, triggerfish, porgy, black sea bass, grunts.Comments: Overall, it’s been a windy, rough week in the offshore waters, but the No Pity out of Little River led by Capt. Devin Shirkey saw a window of opportunity around a full moon Wednesday and burned a day in the ongoing 2018 South Carolina Wahoo Series. Shirkey and crew put a 33.8-pound wahoo and a blackfin tuna in the box and lost a large wahoo on the trip. Trolling action for wahoo and blackfin tuna can be superb in March, with the springtime push of dolphin still about a month away. Bottom fishing is excellent, with black sea bass, grey triggerfish, vermilion snapper, red porgy, amberjack and white grunts, among other species being caught. The Greater amberjack fishery re-opened for recreational anglers on March 1. The annual Shallow-Water Grouper Spawning Season Closure is in effect through April 30 and red snapper are closed indefinitely in the South Atlantic region and must be released.
Freshwater

Look For: Bream, crappie, bass, catfish.Comments: Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway personally saw a sign of spring on the Waccamaw River last Sunday, observing a water temperature of 70 degrees at Osprey Marina. After a frigid January and a warm February, the fish aren’t sure what’s up. “Them fish, they’re scratching their heads, they’re lost,” said Stalvey. Although the rivers are high, Stalvey still suggests to fish off the banks, except for catfish. “The catfish are in the woods feeding on crawfish,” said Stalvey. “The water’s in the woods but don’t hesitate to fish deeper, at the edge of the woods and further out,” Stalvey said. “Bream are hitting crickets on throw lines 3-4 feet deep on the ICW and the Waccamaw.” Stalvey has also seen good catches of crappie on small shiners. Catfish action has also been good, on cut shad and large shiners. “I’ve seen some nice catfish, many between 20 and 40 pounds, most caught on bush hooks,” said Stalvey. Bass are also confused considering the water temperature and the calendar. “The water temperature is right for the spawn, but the time of year is not,” Stalvey said.