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Weather causes a slow down

image: fishing boat
Captain Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service navigates through shallow water in North Inlet on the hunt for sharks earlier this year. JASON LEE jlee@thesunnews

Fishing report: Wicked weather slows action for anglers on local waters

By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News

Estuary
Look For: Spotted seatrout, flounder, red drum, black drum, sheepshead,bluefish.
Comments: It’s been a stormy, blustery week with a cold front thrown in for good measure, putting a damper on angler activity. But Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters found a few breaks in the weather to get in some fishing, including Wednesday before vicious weather moved in during the evening. Kelly produced all three species of a Carolina Slam in the Little River area including spotted seatrout, flounder and red drum. “Trout have been the top thing,” said Kelly. “There’s a bunch of trout around. It seems like better than usual fishing for this time of year.” Kelly floated white and chartreuse Berkeley Gulp Shrimp to produce trout and some flounder. The reds hit live mud minnows. Kelly noted a water temperature of 64 degrees Wednesday afternoon.
Inshore
Look For: Whiting, croaker, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, weakfish, black sea bass, flounder.
Comments: Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters found a few breaks in the weather to hit near-shore reefs such as Paradise Reef out of Murrells Inlet earlier this week and caught bluefish and weakfish. It’s what he didn’t catch that has Maples excited for the upcoming weeks. “I saw some Spanish (mackerel) pop up,” said Maples. “They were in super small schools, but they were there. There are glass minnows out there and they were jumping and feeding on them. I got a good visual on them.” Maples said the Spanish disappeared before he could get a bait to them. “I’m hoping this cold front won’t mess up the few Spanish we’ve got,” Maples said Wednesday evening. The reefs are also holding plenty of black sea bass, which have a 13-inch minimum size limit, plus a few bull red drum and flounder. The surf has been rough on the beach and fishing hasn’t been very productive off Grand Strand piers. Whiting and croaker are the top catch, with bluefish and a few black drum also being landed. The ocean water temperature at the Cherry Grove Pier Wednesday afternoon was 66 degrees on the surface and 65 on the bottom.
Offshore
Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, porgy, grunts, amberjack.
Comments: There have been few opportunities this week to get offshore, but the wahoo action was superb through Sunday. The 2017 South Carolina Wahoo Series continues through April 16, featuring a two-fish aggregate with boats fishing two days each. Several boats fished on Sunday, with a 59.7-pounder the largest caught. A 100-pound, 5-ounce specimen weighed in a week ago by Wally Lee’s Wasted Time out of Murrells Inlet is the largest fish caught thus far in the event, but many competing boats still have another day to fish. Blackfin tuna are also available for trolling boats, with dolphin expected to make the scene within the next few weeks. Bottom fishing is producing vermilion snapper, black sea bass, grunts, porgy, triggerfish 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: Catfish, bass, bream, crappie.
Comments: “The weather’s cut all the fishermen off,” said River Squires of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle on Wednesday. “Maybe by this weekend they’ll be back at it.” Anglers that have tried their luck have found catfish action to be very good, including a 45-pound flathead landed. The cold front likely pushed the bream to a little deeper water, but they will soon be back on the banks in 2-4 feet of water hitting crickets. Squires notes bass action has been good in the lakes off the Great Pee Dee River with lizards and Senko worms working well.