Area fishing report (July 15)

Gregg Holshouser, For The Sun NewsJuly 15, 2011 


Look For | Red drum, flounder, black drum, sheepshead, bluefish, spotted seatrout.

Comments | Following two winters that apparently decimated populations of spotted seatrout along the South Carolina coast, there has been good news this week. Both Capt. Mark Dickson of Shallow-Minded Inshore Charters in Little River and Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown have caught trout, along with red drum, flounder and black drum. On Thursday morning, Dickson caught several trout plus flounder, black drum and a good number of red drum in the 12-14 inch range. Dickson was glad to see the trout but released the fish. "I'm surprised at the number of trout we're seeing with it being this hot," said Dickson. "It would be a very responsible thing to let them go." McDonald produced several reds, trout and a feisty bull shark on a Monday trip. The reds were in the 22 to 28 inch range, said McDonald, who noted water temperature readings of 85-86 degrees in Winyah Bay. Capt. Robert Mayer of Top Knotch Charters out of Georgetown Landing released a tarpon estimated at 130 pounds on Tuesday after a fight of nearly two hours. McDonald has also had a few tarpon encounters this week. Jessica Perry of Perry's Bait and Tackle reports fishing for red drum was excellent in Murrells Inlet a week ago, with catches continuing to be decent this week. Perry notes flounder continue to be caught in the inlet with most fish under the 14-inch minimum size limit with larger flounder and sheepshead available at the jetties. A 9-pound, 12-ounce sheepshead was landed by Robert Thompkins of Conway at the Winyah Bay jetties.


Look For | Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, black sea bass, spadefish, flounder, whiting, pompano, black drum, sheepshead, bluefish.

Comments | The big question this summer has been, where are the king mackerel? Catches of kings have been spotty or even non-existent for anglers fishing from piers and along the beach to offshore spots in 60 to 90 feet of water. Count Marlin Quay Marina owner/operator Michael Stone among those wondering where the staple summertime kings are. "I am just baffled," Stone said after watching one of his boats return from Bouy City with one small king. "The kings should be here but they're not. The last few days we've seen some bigger schools of pogeys (menhaden) but nothing has been cutting through them." For the second straight week, the bottom dissolved oxygen level according to the Apache Pier data station continues to drop below 5 percent overnight and catches on the pier have been slow, with sheepshead surprisingly the best catch along with a few pompano, red drum and flounder. Other species being caught on Grand Strand piers include whiting, Spanish, bluefish and spadefish. Two kings were hooked up by anglers on Springmaid Pier but both were cut off by sharks. On the inshore reefs, best bet is for spadefish with flounder and mainly undersized black sea bass also available. The ocean water temperature at Apache Pier was 83.95 degrees Thursday at 3:30 p.m.


Look For | Dolphin, blackfin tuna, wahoo, king mackerel, sailfish, white marlin, blue marlin, grouper, amberjack, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish.

Comments | Bottom fishing is the best option for anglers wetting a hook in the offshore waters as catches of a number of reef species have been very good. Capt. Joseph Dunaway aboard Catitude out of Marlin Quay Marina produced very nice catches of black sea bass, vermilion snapper, grouper and triggerfish on consecutive trips Wednesday and Thursday at the Parking Lot in 90-110 feet of water. However, Dunaway was drifting live mullet both days while bottom fishing and managed only one king mackerel. Ocean Isle Fishing Center offered hope on the king front, reporting Amanda Almond landed a 35.7-pound king at the 390s while angler Scott Lomas was the angler on a 34-pound king caught in 65 feet of water, both on Monday. For trolling boats, dolphin catches remain good but have tapered off in recent weeks. Sailfish action is very good with white marlin and blue marlin also available. Once again, anglers should remember the recreational daily bag limit for black sea bass is now 5 fish per day and red snapper remain off limits indefinitely and must be released.


Look For | Bream, bass, catfish.

Comments | The Pee Dee and Grand Strand areas have finally gotten some rain within the last week, including Wednesday night, but don't expect a major rise in local rivers. "I think it might come up a little bit and that will help the fish," said Booth. Prior to Thursday, the heat was on. "The heat's been the big thing this week," said Booth. "Everybody's been going early and late, but the fish are biting if you can stand the heat." Look for bream, morgans and shellcracker in 2-3 feet of water on crickets and worms in typical areas such as Yauhannah, Samworth, Bucksport, Bucksville, Conway and the Punch Bowl area on the Little Pee Dee. Catfish are taking live and cut bait while bass action is obviously best early and late with shiners and topwater lures working. A weekly bass tournament is held each Thursday evening out of Conway Marina. Call 397-3474 for more information.

State fishing

Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie | Crappie: Good. Captain Steve English reports that the crappie bite remains strong around offshore brushpiles in 7-18 feet of water in both the upper and lower lake. Some really nice fish over 2 pounds have been caught in 10-12 feet of water. The best brush is proximate to depth changes, and fish will take both minnows and jigs. Use your trolling motor to hold over the brush. Summer heat does not necessarily force the fish deep, and so fish may stay around brush at this depth for some time. Bream: Good. Captain Steve English reports that bream are scattered out in 3-5 feet of water around grass, lily pads and shallow brush. Crickets are the best bait. They will spawn throughout the summer on the full moons, and at those times they will be found over shallow beds. Largemouth bass: Fair. Captain Jimmie Hair reports that fishing is changing as it gets very hot, and he is now targeting much of his effort in the swamp above the I-95 Bridge. Fish in the shade of cypress trees in 5-10 feet of water. Captain Hair is making his best catches on a creature bait called an Ugly Otter. In the main lakes the shallow bite has turned off, but a few fish can be caught off drops on Carolina rigs. In the Cooper River fishing remains strong because of the current and cooler water temperatures. 1-2 pound fish can still be caught at the lower stages of the tide on Senkos. The best tide is the outgoing around the ditches and rice fields. Early in the day some fish will be caught on top with Baby Torpedoes and floating worms. Catfish: Slow to fair. Captain Jim Glenn reports that catfishing on both Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion continues to be slow to fair, as it has been for some time. It is anticipated that the bite may improve if the blue catfish population is robust enough once the spawning period slows. Modest numbers of blue cats are being caught drifting and at anchor both day and night. Fish seem scattered at various depths during daytime while at times there is more success at night in shallow water. Historically most catters have found night fishing more productive during the hotter months. Catfishermen continue to use cut herring and white perch as well as mullet and either gizzard shad or threadfin shad. Channel catfishing success is fairly common with bigger channels in the 6 to 8 pound range being taken drifting cut bait. Mixed sized channel cats are being taken on prepared commercial baits, shrimp and other favorites like chicken liver. The diversion canal report is that fewer blue catfish are being taken than is expected for this time of year. The tail race canal and Cooper River have produced some good catfishing recently. Drifting and anchoring are productive both day and night generally.

S.C. Department of Natural Resources

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