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Warm Weather means good catches

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Brent McCord unhooks a pin fish for his son, Jacob, during a family fishing trip to Cherry Grove Pier. JASON LEE jlee@thesunnews

Warm weather spurs more good catches in local estuaries
By Gregg Holshouser

For The Sun News
Estuary
Look For: Spotted seatrout, flounder, red drum, black drum, sheepshead.
Comments: Fishing action last weekend was simply great for late February in local estuaries. On one trip in Murrells Inlet, Capt. Jason Burton of Fly Girl Charters produced five flounder, three trout and two black drum — all keepers. “It’s been awesome,” said Burton. “Last weekend I found 63-degree water in shallow water. I saw finger mullet, shrimp popping. It’s like fall never ended and spring is here.” Ronald ‘Catfish’ Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway and his girlfriend, Brittany Cox, made their way out to Murrells Inlet for a little saltwater fishing Sunday. The duo caught five red drum and a trout while floating mud minnows, including Cox’s first two redfish — ever. Stalvey reported “snot grass” was not a problem on the trip. Capt. Mark Dickson of Shallow-Minded Inshore Charters in Little River had a super trip last weekend, catching trout, flounder, black drum and reds on Vudu shrimp near the Sunset Beach Bridge. Dickson noted a water temperature of 64 degrees.
Inshore
Look For: Sheepshead, black sea bass, black drum, whiting, croaker.
Comments: The unseasonably warm ocean water temperature peaked at 63 on Wednesday at Cherry Grove Pier before cooler weather finally moved in. Steve Gann of the pier reported surprising catches for late February and the first few days of March. “The whiting are getting bigger and there were two black drum (in the 16- to 17-inch range) caught,” said Gann. “I even saw a blue and a spot.” Gann noted a water temperature of 61 degrees at 4 p.m. Thursday. It’s been a rough week in the Atlantic, with a cold front moving through at midweek, so angler activity by boat has been limited. The best bet is targeting sheepshead and black sea bass on the near-shore artificial reefs. Weakfish, black drum, flounder and tautog are also a possibility on the reefs.
Offshore
Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, porgy, triggerfish, grunts, amberjack.
Comments: It’s been rough offshore, too, but when conditions permit, trolling for wahoo and blackfin tuna can be productive. Bottom fishing is very good for vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grunts, red porgy and amberjack. The annual Shallow-water Grouper Spawning Season Closure is in effect through April 30. Red snapper cannot be harvested and must be released in the South Atlantic region.
Freshwater
Look For: Crappie, bream, bass, catfish.
Comments: “Fishing’s been hot,” said ‘Catfish’ Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle. “They’re even catching a lot of bream on crickets in 2-4 feet of water and morgans and bream lead-lining.” Catches of crappie are very good on beetle spins, jigs and minnows plus catfish action is excellent on live eels and shad. Bass are hitting craw baits and crank baits. “A lot of nice fish are getting caught up shallow,” said Stalvey. “There might be a few (bedding) but I haven’t really heard anything yet.”