The weather along the coast has been on an amazing January journey over the last week.
Last weekend featured snow flurries with high temperatures in the lower-to-mid 30s, before a fling of spring-like weather arrived a few days ago, with temps as high as the mid 70s along the coastal plain.
Of course, few fishermen ventured out during the Arctic blast, but they were ready to go at mid-week when the weather turned nice.
Conditions were good for the regular Wednesday fishing trip with friends hosted by Dr. Jason Rosenberg aboard his 32-foot Contender, Painkiller.
A bottom-fishing excursion was in the works this time as Rosenberg and Capt. Jay Sconyers hosted Jimmy Kaminski of Pawleys Island, Dr. Brian Rabon of Aynor and Justin Scott Witten of Ambush Sport Fishing.
The crew headed out in three-foot seas to a bottom area south-southeast of Murrells Inlet in 85 feet of water.
The surface water temperature was a chilly 56 degrees but the bite was torrid, as the anglers dropped cigar minnows and fresh cut baitfish down to the hard-bottom area.
“It was excellent,” said Rosenberg. “The fish were plentiful. We reeled up hundreds of fish, two at a time off the bottom. We had no problem filling our limit.”
Rosenberg and company loaded the box with five-angler limits of black sea bass (13-inch minimum, seven per person) and vermilion snapper (12-inch minimum, five per person), plus red porgy, triggerfish and white grunts.
The action didn’t stop there, though. They also caught and released three red snapper and three grouper. 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.
But there was even more action.
“Sharks were all over,” said Rosenberg. “We had to reel up our catch quickly or a shark might get it.”
Rosenberg said Atlantic Sharpnose were the main shark species roaming the reef. At one point all five anglers were hooked up with an Atlantic Sharpnose.
Atlantic Sharpnose wasn’t the only shark species encountered, however.
Sconyers had a lengthy battle with a large shark in the 8-foot range. The shark was tail-hooked, and the crew never got a good enough look at it to positively identify it before the release.
At first glance, the shark appeared to be a blacktip as it had black-tipped fins. But, Rosenberg pointed out, the shark appeared to easily be bigger than the 163-pound, 14-ounce and approximately 6-foot long state record blacktip caught out of Hilton Head in 2009.
“Is it a blacktip?” said Rosenberg. “The state record blacktip was caught in the summer months, and the shark we had on the line was much larger than six feet and 163 pounds.”
Rosenberg was left wondering what species it was and considered other possibilities to be spinner shark, juvenile thresher or juvenile great white shark.
Rosenberg did notice one more distinguishing characteristic before the shark was released.
“That shark, the belly was so white,” said Rosenberg.
Check out video of the shark by searching for great white vs. blacktip on youtube.com
Bird Sanctuary Forum
Murrells Inlet 2020 is hosting a public forum on Jan. 26 to discuss designating Murrells Inlet as a bird sanctuary.
The forum will be held at the Murrells Inlet Community Center, located at 4450 Murrells Inlet Road, beginning at 6 p.m.
Sen. Ray Cleary, R-Georgetown, introduced a bill to create a bird sanctuary in the inlet in April of the 2016 state legislative session.
Gregg Holshouser: email@example.com