Look for | Spotted seatrout, red drum, flounder, black drum, sheepshead, spots.
Comments | The calendar has turned to November and the water temperature has abruptly plunged to the lower-to-mid 60s, meaning tis the season for spotted sea trout fishing in local inlets, sounds and bays. From Georgetown to Brunswick County, N.C., the trout bite is taking off with a variety of artificials and live shrimp the preferred baits. The trout are not alone – with red drum and flounder also available. While the majority of flounder will eventually move into the ocean as the water temperature cools further, there are still plenty of keepers in the creeks above the 14-inch minimum size limit including some doormats. While spawning of red drum has wound down and the large majority of bull reds have left the creeks for the ocean, schools of juvenile reds from about 12 to 30 inches will remain in the inlets for the duration and are currently fattening up for the winter. Catches of spots have been scarce in local inlets, but a run could come at any time.
Look for | Whiting, black drum, weakfish, spots, flounder, pompano, sheepshead.
Comments | While Sandy certainly stirred up the inshore waters of the Atlantic, conditions continue to calm down and return to normal. Numerous species continue to be caught off Grand Strand piers, led by whiting, black drum, croakers, spots and weakfish. Also look for flounder, pompano and bluefish. A few good catches of spots have been reported, but overall the panfish are scarce along the beach. Catches of weakfish, also known as summer trout or grey trout, will continue to improve on hard-bottom areas near the beach and off the piers as the water clears up. Anglers should note the daily bag limit for weakfish is one fish per person with a 12-inch minimum size limit. Black sea bass will also move in to near-shore bottom spots and artificial reefs in greater numbers as the water cools, but recreational anglers should also remember the species is off-limits until June 1, 2013. The ocean water temperature at 2nd Ave. Pier was 63.83 degrees at 3 p.m. Thursday, signifying a drastic drop of about nine degrees in the last two weeks.
Look for | King mackerel, wahoo, blackfin tuna, dolphin, grouper, vermilion snapper, amberjack, triggerfish.
Comments | Sandy put the offshore waters in an uproar that will take some time for conditions to return to normal. Meanwhile, dozens, if not hundreds, of boats will head out Saturday and Sunday competing in the Fall Brawl King Classic out of Ocean Isle Fishing Center in search of a winning, smoker king mackerel. Capt. Brant McMullan of the OIFC is on record suggesting anglers head to depths of 65 feet of water and beyond to find relatively clear water and conditions suitable to hold kings. The Gulf Stream vicinity should still be holding wahoo, blackfin tuna and dolphin for trolling boats. Bottom fishing is typically excellent in November with grouper, vermilion snapper, amberjack, triggerfish and porgy available among other species. The red snapper fishery is closed indefinitely.
Look for | Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.
Comments | Bream, including shellcracker, have moved a little deeper as the water temperature has quickly cooled over the last week, to 65 degrees on Wednesday at Yauhannah on the Great Pee Dee. Look for bream in 3-4 feet of water with worms and nightcrawlers now the preferred bait, although crickets are still available and continue to catch fish. Top areas are Yauhannah, Samworth, Bucksport and the Punch Bowl vicinity. “The fish are starting to move out a little bit,” said Jay Booth of Fishermen’s Headquarters. “Worms have really picked up [as a bait].” Crappie action also continues to be in a fall groove with fish hitting minnows. Harvey Martin of Conway landed 17 crappie in the Big Jordan Lake vicinity of the Great Pee Dee including one lunker weighing nearly three pounds on Wednesday. Booth landed 11 bream and six crappie on a Wednesday trip to Yauhannah. “I think the cool weather is going to make the crappie bite that much better,” Booth said. The limits on crappie are 8 inches minimum size and 20 fish per person daily bag limit. Bass to 2-to-3 pounds have been hitting shiners at Bucksport and Yauhannah, reports Booth, who noted there was frost in Conway and Aynor on Thursday morning. Wayne and Ryan Marsh of Conway won the weekly bass tournament with a three-fish aggregate of 5 pounds, 8 ounces. Saturday’s tournament will be held at Bucksport, safe light to 2 p.m.
By Gregg Holshouser, For The Sun News
Santee Cooper System | Crappie: Good to very good. Capt. Steve English reports that crappie fishing has been strong and fish are really ganged up on brushpiles. Numbers of fish are down from last year, but on both lakes the sizes have been outstanding. Fish remain suspended about 8-18 feet down around the tops of brush piles in approximately 15-28 feet of water. Minnows have been working too well to try anything else. Bream: Good. Capt. English reports that some small bream remain in the shallows, but most of the better fish are stacked up on mid-depth brush piles in 16-22 feet of water. Fish about 8-14 feet deep with crickets. Catfish: Slow to fair. Capt. Jim Glenn reports that there is no real productive Santee Cooper catfish pattern to fish most of the time, and cooling water temperatures will have fish scattered until later in the winter. Quality catchable fish are not being caught with any regularity right now, but just recently Lake Marion seems to be producing slightly better numbers of quality fish.