Look For: Black drum, red drum, spotted seatrout, flounder, sheepshead, tautog.
Comments: Arctic cold fronts like the one experienced in the Carolinas earlier this week can drastically drop the water temperature and really slow down the estuary fishing for several species, including spotted seatrout and red drum. Local anglers dodged the bullet this time, as the cold weather wasn’t prolonged and was followed by a quick warm-up. The drop in water temperature did get fish grouped up in their winter mode, though, as Capt. Lee Thomas of Fish On Charters out of Georgetown Landing Marina found out on Tuesday. Thomas and a three-man crew including Capt. Eric Heiden had a super day, catching a limit of black drum and red drum in the Winyah Bay vicinity. “They were also tagging fish - they had about 30 tags - and they ran out of tags,” said Ed Keelin, Operations Manager of Georgetown Landing Marina.
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Look For: Black sea bass, weakfish, black drum, tautog, flounder, whiting, croaker.
Comments: Winter water temps have black sea bass grouped up on the near-shore reefs within 10 miles of the beach. Be aware of the minimum size limit of 13 inches and daily bag limit of seven fish per person for the species. Cut bait such as mullet, shrimp or squid is the best bait. Look for sheepshead, weakfish, tautog and flounder on the reefs also. Action has been slow on Grand Strand piers with the water temperature dropping below 50 for the first time this winter. Ronnie Goodwin of Cherry Grove Pier reports the ocean water temperature dropped to 49 degrees on the surface and bottom on Monday. By Wednesday afternoon, Goodwin said the surface temperature was up to 53 degrees and 50 on the bottom. Goodwin reported negligible catches from the pier.
Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, grouper, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, porgy, triggerfish, grunts, amberjack.
Comments: The sea turned nice on Wednesday and the crew of Dr. Jason Rosenberg's Painkiller including Capt. Jay Sconyers had a superb bottom fishing trip. The crew fished in depths of 85 feet with a water temperature of 56 degrees and caught a five-man limit of black sea bass and vermilion snapper, plus landed triggerfish, white grunts and red porgy. They also caught and released red snapper and grouper as red snapper are off-limits in the South Atlantic region indefinitely and must be released, and the annual Shallow-water Grouper Spawning Season Closure went into effect on Jan. 1 and continues through April 30. The grouper closure means no recreational and commercial harvest or possession of gag, black grouper, red grouper, scamp, red hind, rock hind, coney, graysby, yellowfin grouper, and yellowmouth grouper is allowed for the four-month period. Also, tis the season for trolling for wahoo with blackfin tuna also available.
Look For: Bream, crappie, bass, catfish.
Comments: The winter storm dumped plenty of rain along the coast, and, more importantly, snow in the upstate and mountains of the Carolinas, causing a rise in the rivers. With cold weather early this week and water levels up, angler activity has been down says Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. “The weather over the weekend shut them down,” said Stalvey. “The water has (risen) up a little bit and the rivers are close to flood stage. High water scares a lot of people away. (The fish) are on the bottom (now) so it doesn't matter how high the water is. That’s what I try to tell ‘em." Crappie are hitting medium shiners and bream are hitting red worms and nightcrawlers lead-lined on the bottom. Eels and shiners are producing catfish.