Look for | Spotted seatrout, red drum, black drum, flounder, sheepshead.
Comments | With an awesome warm trend in the offing, estuary fishing has been superb in the inlets, bays and sounds of the Grand Strand. Led by a prolific bite of spotted seatrout, four species have been caught in good numbers. Red drum, black drum and flounder are also available as the water temperature has actually risen a bit to the mid-to-upper 50s over the last week. “If you fish the right spots at the right tides, you should be able to catch double digit numbers of trout,” said Capt. Patrick Kelly of Capt. Smiley Charters in Little River, who says most fish are in the 15-18 inch range. Numerous baits will work for the trout including Mirrolures, Billy Bay Halo shrimp and the old standby – live shrimp.
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Look for | Black drum, whiting, croaker, weakfish, spots, flounder, sheepshead.
Comments | Grand Strand piers are producing scattered catches of black drum, whiting and croakers. Apache Pier reported a 3-pound, 12-ounce black drum was caught earlier this week. In addition, look for spotted seatrout and weakfish off 2nd Ave. Pier. Black sea bass and sheepshead are the hot ticket on inshore artificial reefs such as Jim Caudle Reef, Paradise Reef (Three-Mile Reef) and 10-Mile Reef. You can keep the sheepshead, but black sea bass must be released until June 1, 2013. The ocean water temperature at Cherry Grove Pier was 56.15 degrees at 3 p.m. Thursday, approximately one degree warmer than a week ago.
Look for | King mackerel, wahoo, blackfin tuna, dolphin, grouper, vermilion snapper, amberjack, triggerfish.
Comments | Bottom fishing is the best option for anglers looking to get offshore, with grouper, vermilion snapper, amberjack, triggerfish and porgy all available. The red snapper fishery is closed indefinitely. Look for king mackerel on ledges and bottom spots in depths of 65 feet of water and beyond. Wahoo and blackfin tuna, with dolphin still a possibility, are the best options for trolling boats near the Gulf Stream.
Look for | Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.
Comments | Jay Booth of Fishermen’s Headquarters in Conway reports bream action including morgans and shellcracker has been very good in the Bucksport, Samworth and Yauhannah areas. The Punch Bowl vicinity of the Little Pee rivers has been producing good catches of morgans and crappie. “There’s low water, above average temperatures and the fish are responding,” Booth said. Look for the bream species in 8-10 feet of water hitting red worms and nightcrawlers on the bottom around ditch mouths and structure. Look for crappie hitting minnows near ditch mouths, brush piles and boat docks in 6-7 feet of water and four feet below the surface. The water temperature in the Bucksville vicinity on the Waccamaw River was 58 degrees on Monday. Nicky Barfield of Conway caught a limit of large bream and morgans at Bucksport, plus a 15-pound flathead landed on cut bait. Luke Cannon of Conway caught 20 bream, morgans and perch from the Great Pee Dee. Buddy and Leon Boyd of Conway caught 15 crappie at the Punch Bowl including several weighing over a pound. Ryan Marsh of Conway won the weekly bass tournament Saturday at Bucksport with a three-fish aggregate of 4.9 pounds.
By Gregg Holshouser, For The Sun News
Santee Cooper System | Crappie: Good to very good. Capt. Steve English reports that crappie are moving into an early winter pattern where fish gang up on deeper brushpiles, where they should hold through December. Right now the best action is fishing about 20-28 feet down around the tops of brushpiles in approximately 35-40 feet of water. Both minnows and jigs are catching fish. Catfish: Fair to good. Capt. Jim Glenn reports that with seasonal changes blue catfishing has improved on both Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie, increasing the frequency of quality catfish being harvested in both lakes. Blue cats in the 20-70 pound range have been caught recently, with fish coming at a variety of depths. Both anchoring and drifting have produced big fish as well as intermediate sizes 10-15 pounds and smaller. Largemouth bass: Slow. Capt. Glenn reports that generally bass fishing has been considered slow recently. As winter temperatures continue to drop some bass will continue to hold or suspend on drops just off the banks as well as further into open water and off visible and submerged islands since most prey species including shad, bluegill and others will be moving away from shoreline cover as water temps continue to drop. Try fishing spinnerbaits and crankbaits.