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Trolling improves as the wind eases

3 Members of Coastal Carolina University’s Saltwater Anglers Club on a fishing trip. Submitted photo
Outdoors
Trolling should be fruitful once the wind dies down. Fishing seminar Saturday

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

March 15, 2018 06:54 PM

Updated March 15, 2018 07:44 PM
Estuary

Look For: Red drum, black drum, spotted seatrout, flounder, sheepshead.

Comments: Red drum are providing the majority of the action in local estuaries, with the start of the flounder bite still 2-4 weeks away. Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters in Little River had a solid day on Tuesday, targeting reds in shallow water (1-4 feet) in creeks. Kelly and company caught eight reds ranging from 15 to 27 inches on Gulp baits and mud minnows, presented on 1/4-ounce jig heads. “You’ve got to be quiet and sneaky,” said Kelly, who noted a water temperature in the low to mid 50s. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service headed south of Georgetown early this week to find some active reds. On a short trip, McDonald caught five reds all within South Carolina’s slot of 15 to 23 inches, using cut shrimp on the edge of the grass. With the air and water temperature on a virtual roller-coaster since the first days of January, McDonald feels the fish are confused. “They’ve been so messed up since that cold spell (in January) then that warm spell (in February), they don’t know what’s going on,” said McDonald.
Inshore

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

Comments: The story of the week has been the relentless wind of late that has kept boats docked or on trailers. Sheepshead continue to be the best option on the inshore waters, with fish holding on the near-shore artificial 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). Weakfish, black drum and flounder are also possibilities on the reefs. The latest ocean water temperature available at Cherry Grove Pier was from Monday, with a reading of 56 degrees, but chilly weather since has dropped it a few degrees. Ronnie Goodwin of Cherry Grove Pier reports only a few small whiting and croaker have been caught, but he did see one surprise. “They’re catching some little bitty whiting and croaker, but I did see about an 8-inch flounder caught,” said Goodwin.
Offshore

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

Comments: It’s been yet another very windy week, meaning boats eager to troll for wahoo and blackfin tuna have had to wait it out. Once again, when the wind dies down, wahoo and blackfin tuna will be around with perhaps a few dolphin also in the mix. Bottom fishing is good for black sea bass, grey triggerfish, vermilion snapper, amberjack, red porgy and white grunts. 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: “There’s hardly any (fishermen) been going this week, but we’ve got a lot of nice weather coming,” said Ronald ‘Catfish’ Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. With another stretch of colder-than-normal weather winding down, Stalvey feels bream have moved back to deeper water and suggests lead-lining worms on the bottom to find them. For crappie, Stalvey said to float minnows “fairly deep” around structure. “Catfish are in deep water in daytime, but at night they are pulling up shallow,” Stalvey said. “A lot of nice catfish have been caught on bush hooks.” With the water temperature back down in the low-to-mid 50s, the spawn is still a ways off for bass. “They’ll start when the water temperature gets a little above 60 degrees,” Stalvey said. For now, Stalvey says bass are hitting shallow-diving crank baits, Texas-rigged worms and spinner baits.
FISHING SEMINAR ON SATURDAY

Coastal Carolina University’s Saltwater Angler Club is staging its ninth annual Spring Fundraising Seminar Saturday at Brittain Hall on the CCU campus in Conway.

The seminars will cover the intricacies of the local saltwater fishing scene from estuary fishing for species such as red drum, spotted seatrout and flounder as well as offshore bluewater trolling for wahoo, dolphin and tuna.

The event is the primary fundraiser for the club, enabling the student members to participate in events such as upcoming party-boat bottom-fishing and offshore trolling fishing trips scheduled for this spring.

“This event is so important to the club because we are able to teach locals (various) styles of fishing that they may have never tried or would like to learn more about,” said James Coleman, Vice-President of the club. “We also love to get club members out fishing who have never had the opportunity to.”

Doors open at 9:30 a.m. at Brittain Hall, located at 23 Chanticleer Drive in Conway, with the seminars beginning at 10 a.m.

The topics and speakers follow:

▪ Bottom/Reef Fishing: Capt Keith Logan of North Myrtle Beach Fishing Charters.

▪ Bluewater/King Mackerel: Capt. Steve Montgomery of Salt Fever in Ocean Isle Beach, N.C.

▪ Inshore: Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters.

▪ Electronics: Capt. Chris Lawhon and Capt. David Christian of Marlin Quay Marina.

Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for all students and include coffee in the morning and a BBQ plate for lunch. Attendees will be entered in raffles for various items such as rods, reels, coolers, gift cards and fishing apparel, highlighted by a 120-quart Yeti cooler.

For more information, contact Coleman at jtcoleman@coastal.edu.

Members of Coastal Carolina University’s Saltwater Anglers Club show off a king mackerel caught in 2016 during the Fall Brawl King Mackerel Tournament at Ocean Isle Fishing Center. The club will host a fundraising seminar on Saturday. The Sun News file photo