Look For: Red drum, spotted seatrout, flounder, black drum, sheepshead.
Comments: The IFA Redfish Tour returns to Georgetown this weekend with the second and final stop in the tour’s Atlantic Division to be staged at the Carroll Ashmore Campbell Marine Complex, located on U.S. Hwy. 17 on the Sampit River. The registration and captains meeting will be held Friday starting at 5 p.m. with the weigh-in beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday. Competitors in the tournament will be targeting red drum that measure within South Carolina’s slot limit of 15 to 23 inches. The fall run of bull red drum is in full force, with plenty of the big spawners being caught near area jetties and along the channels of inlets such as Little River Inlet and Winyah Bay. Anglers are urged to catch these fish quickly with beefed up tackle and release them carefully, being sure they are revived before letting them go. These fish, ranging from about 30 to 45 inches in size, represent the red drum’s future in South Carolina waters and should be handled delicately to ensure their survival. Area jetties are a hot spot currently, producing good catches of red drum, black drum, sheepshead, spotted seatrout, pompano and flounder. Fiddler crabs are a choice bait for black drum, sheepshead and pompano.
Look For: Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, whiting, flounder, weakfish, black sea bass, pompano, red drum, black drum, croaker, spots.
Comments: Bull reds are also being found along the beach and especially on hard-bottom spots within 2-3 miles of the beach. A variety of baits will catch these fish but big chunks of fresh cut mullet or croakers are a top choice. As always, bull reds, which measure way over South Carolina’s 15 to 23 inch slot limit, should be caught quickly and released carefully. Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters in Murrells Inlet has caught and released numerous bull reds this week, plus weakfish, whiting and flounder on the hard-bottom areas. He has also found birds working schools of bait, especially glass minnows, and has used live mullet to catch Spanish and Jigfish lures to catch bonito on them. He also spotted king mackerel skyrocketing around the schools of bait. Maples has been among many residents who have witnessed dead croakers this week. The dead fish, most in the 3-to-6 inch range, have been found from the backwaters of Murrells Inlet to along the beaches, from Garden City Beach to Surfside Beach. Maples has seen the dead croakers in the inlet, at the jetties and on a hard-bottom spot off Surfside Beach. South Carolina Department of Natural Resources biologist Kris Reynolds has been collecting samples of the dead croakers and sending them to S.C. DNR’s Marine Resources Research Institute in Charleston for analysis. Grand Strand piers are producing decent catches of a variety of species including Spanish, blues, whiting, croaker, flounder, black drum, red drum, weakfish, pompano and croaker. Only scattered catches of spots have been reported thus far. The water will be starting to cool in the next few weeks and keeper black sea bass will begin moving closer to shore for the fall and winter months. Anglers can keep a few more black sea bass now, as a new recreational daily bag limit of 7 fish per person went into in effect on Aug. 12. The ocean water temperature at Springmaid Pier was 80.8 degrees at 3:54 p.m. Thursday.
Look For: Grouper, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, porgy, triggerfish, grunts, amberjack, wahoo, blackfin tuna, dolphin.
Comments: With a pair of tropical storms blowing up the seas and creating plenty of windy weather, it’s been a slow couple of weeks in the offshore waters. When boats have been out there, water conditions in areas like the Georgetown Hole, Winyah Scarp and Blackjack have reportedly been poor. Capt. Shawn Thomas of Underdog Fishing Charters in Murrells Inlet headed out recently and caught no fish at the Georgetown Hole. “We didn’t get a knockdown at the Georgetown Hole,” said Thomas. A move to the Winyah Scarp produced one wahoo, plus several slinger dolphin were caught on cut ballyhoo when Thomas and crew found them foraging around a floating tree. “It’s warm and dirty water out there, we’re not getting that blue Gulf Stream water,” said Thomas. “We need a big nor’easter to come in and blow it all out of here.” Bottom fishing is excellent in the fall for grouper, amberjack, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, porgy and triggerfish. Red snapper are off-limits in the South Atlantic region and must be released.
Look For: Bream, catfish, bass.
Comments: River levels remain up thanks to a prolonged rainy period, making catching fish on the rivers a little more challenging. The Waccamaw River at Conway was at 10.3 feet in the action stage Thursday at 4:15 p.m. The Little Pee Dee at Galivants Ferry was in better shape, at 6.68 feet at 5 p.m. Thursday. Look for bream in 3-8 feet of water, hitting crickets and worms, although popping bugs and beetle spins may produce bigger fish. Catfish action is good on cut eel and live bream.