The week of Thanksgiving had arrived, and it was time to indulge in some of the fantastic spotted seatrout action anglers have been enjoying in estuaries along the Grand Strand this autumn.
Garden City Beach resident Charlie Nash pulled out of Inlet Harbour into the main creek of Murrells Inlet on Tuesday and took a left in his sizable jon boat, with my brother-in-law Bryan Cox and myself along for the trip. It was a chilly start at 10:30 a.m., with temps approaching 50 degrees and a 10 mph northeast breeze under a sunny, bluebird sky.
Less than five minutes later, we arrived at the inlet’s jetties and dropped back Yo-Zuri chartreuse shrimp on Shimano baitcaster reels. Nash began slow-trolling the lures, meandering parallel to the jetties, searching for the fish, as we kept the shrimp just off the bottom. However, the tide was rising, and the action was slow. Nash had previously caught trout by the same method on recent trips, but on a falling tide, and he moved on to plan B after about 30 minutes with no bites.
The next spot was on the north end of the inlet, well off the main channel, and this time we deployed live shrimp under adjustable-depth floats, letting the incoming current carry the bait through a productive area just off a Spartina grass bank. Again, the action was slow, but Nash was not fazed.
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“Those fish are going to come in here, just let that water get moving a little more,” he said.
As the tide approached high before starting to turn, Nash was proven prophetic. In the span of an hour, we caught three black drum including two keepers on the lower end of the 14-27 inch slot limit, a pair of trout just over the 14-inch minimum size and a flounder under the 14-inch minimum size, for a quick Carolina slam.
But trolling the Yo-Zuri shrimp at the jetties was what Nash had in mind – in recent trips he had caught numerous fish by that method including some over 20 inches. The Myrtle Beach native and longtime local angler was biding his time, waiting on the tide to get right. A little after 3 p.m., an hour after high tide, Nash returned to our original spot at the jetties and we once again began slow-trolling the Yo-Zuri chartreuse shrimp. This time, with the wind laid down and the temperature up to about 60, the trout cooperated.
Problem was, the window of opportunity during the falling tide was small, with the early sunset of late autumn looming.
Nash wasted no time in getting the boat lined up the right distance from the rocks as we dropped our artificial shrimp back a good 100 yards, again, keeping them just off the bottom.
After a few minutes, I went from feeling just the resistance of the trolled lure on my rod to it being doubled over when a nice trout slammed the shrimp and was caught on the rear treble hook. In a few minutes, I had the fish beside the boat and Nash netted a nice 19-20 incher.
As the sun inched down closer and closer toward the south jetty in the western sky, we added five more solid keeper trout to our catch as Nash worked back and forth adjacent to the rocks.
The sunlight faded and the sky turned incredible shades of blue, pink, yellow and purple as we headed back toward Inlet Harbor with the sun disappearing behind the jetty.
Super weather, great fishing, great friendship and beautiful scenery – so much to be thankful for along our South Carolina coast on this Thanksgiving weekend.
CCA South Carolina Contribution
The marine species of fish raised at the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources’ Waddell Mariculture Center in Bluffton are crucial to the stocks of popular fish available to recreational fishermen in Palmetto State waters.
The center has raised species such as red drum, black drum, spotted seatrout, cobia, flounder and striped bass among others for stocking and research purposes over the last 30 years. The 1,200-acre property in Beaufort County features twelve 0.25-acre ponds, ten 0.5-acre ponds, and three 1.25-acre ponds.
The stocking program is especially important in areas along the Grand Strand that feature small estuaries such as Murrells Inlet, Cherry Grove and Little River that receive heavy fishing pressure. The stocking of species such as red drum in these inlets helps offset the lack of natural reproduction and the heavy fishing pressure.
Keeping the aeration pumps running non-stop is critical to the success of the center and stocking program, and Coastal Conservation Association South Carolina recently took a big step toward ensuring that happens.
CCA South Carolina stepped in this week to provide two generators large enough to keep all 25 outdoor fish ponds on the center’s grounds going in the event of power outages.
“For the mariculture center to maintain uninterrupted production systems is important,” said Al Stokes of S.C. DNR. “Because our work with several recreationally important marine species is seasonal, the loss of electrical service for a period of time jeopardizes our important work.
“These generators donated by CCA South Carolina will significantly reduce that risk and allow our researchers and scientists to continue their studies unimpeded.”
CCA South Carolina was able to secure the two generators in early August and with the help of Flint Equipment Company and Reeves Trucking the generators are in excellent working condition, insuring service for the mariculture center for years to come.
“As part of our on-going commitment to improving marine habitat and our support of science based fisheries management, providing this equipment was an investment that our state board knew would further both of those causes,” said Richard Berry, CCA South Carolina State Chairman. “Given the impressive track record of scientific study and research to come out of this facility, we know this will pay dividends to recreational angling and fisheries management for years to come.”
Gregg Holshouser: firstname.lastname@example.org