Kathy Willens AP
Trout, black drum catches are hot in local estuaries
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
November 24, 2017 04:54 PM
Look For: Spotted seatrout, black drum, flounder, red drum, sheepshead, spots.
Comments: From Georgetown to Brunswick County, N.C., the spotted seatrout bite is on fire in local inlets, bays, rivers and sounds, with plenty of black drum plus a few flounder and red drum mixed in. Floated live shrimp or plastic grubs on 1/4- or 1/8-ounce jig heads will catch the trout, along with topwater lures particularly early in the day. Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters has had good success with trout in the Little River vicinity, mainly along the Intracoastal Waterway. Kelly has also noted superb fishing for black drum this fall. “Last year we caught a lot of undersized black drum, just under 14 inches,” recalled Kelly. “Now those black drum are perfect size, from 15-20 inches.” Live shrimp fished on the bottom are the best bet for black drum, Kelly said. “They really want live shrimp – you put a live shrimp on the bottom, they’re eating it up,” said Kelly, who noted a water temperature reading of 56-57 degrees. “They’re all over the place, docks, ledges, oyster beds.” Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown has used plastic grubs to target trout in the Winyah Bay area, with plenty of success on fish up to 18 inches. “We’ve been catching 20-25 trout each day,” said McDonald, who reported a water temperature of 55 to 57 degrees. “They’re feeding good right now.” McDonald suggests hitting areas near the ocean such as jetties and the mouth of inlets to find bigger trout. Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters had a super trip in Murrells Inlet early in the week, catching over 20 trout, two black drum and numerous flounder on live shrimp.
Look For: Black sea bass, weakfish, flounder, bluefish, whiting, croaker, black drum.
Comments: Most of the fishing activity of late has been focused at area jetties and inside the inlets, but there are still fish to be found in the near-shore waters. Specifically, the artificial reefs are holding numerous black sea bass, most under the 13-inch minimum size limit with a few keepers. Look for the number of keepers to be on the rise as the water temperature continues to drop. The reefs are also holding some weakfish and flounder. The near-shore hard-bottom areas are holding big numbers of weakfish, with a few black sea bass and flounder. Action has dwindled this week near the surfline, reports Ronnie Goodwin of the Cherry Grove Pier. “It’s just been mostly small stuff this week,” said Goodwin. Small whiting, croaker, blues and perch have been the top catch with some undersized black drum (14-27 inch slot limit) starting to show up. Goodwin noted a water temperature reading of 61 degrees on the surface and bottom at the pier, at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, grouper, vermilion snapper, triggerfish, porgy, black sea bass, grunts.
Comments: Capt. Brant McMullan of Ocean Isle Fishing Center (OIFC.com) reports that the majority of kings have moved out to depths of 65-80 feet of water. McMullan says look for grouper roaming the rock piles and ledges under the kings, in the same depths. Bottom fishing is also producing vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, porgy and white grunts on out to depths over 100 feet. The Greater amberjack fishery was closed to harvest for recreational anglers on Oct. 31 and will remained closed until March, 2018. Also, cobia cannot be harvested in 2017 in South Carolina waters (to three miles offshore) or federal waters (beyond three miles) and must be released. McMullan says trolling can produce wahoo and blackfin tuna especially inshore of the break in 140 to 180 feet of water.
Look For: Bream, catfish, bass, crappie.
Comments: Rain has been scarce of late and local rivers are definitely on the low side. The Waccamaw River at Conway was making very good tides, with a water level reading of 7.02 feet on a rising tide at 1:15 p.m. Wednesday. The Little Pee Dee at Galivants Ferry continues to be low, at 4.09 feet Wednesday at 1 p.m. Lead-lining with worms is now the preferred tactic to find bream in the rivers. As usual in late autumn, crappie action has picked up nicely with fish hitting crappie minnows around brush or other structure in creek mouths and lakes. Use cut eels, mullet or live bream to catch catfish.