Look for | Red drum, spotted seatrout, black drum, sheepshead.
Comments | After the latest round of cold weather, red drum are officially in winter-time mode as 2013 approaches. Reds are gathered in schools that include fish of a variety of sizes. Look for them on flats and work your artificial bait slowly or use cut shrimp on a Carolina rig. The water temperature in the lower 50s remains warm enough for spotted seatrout to remain active. Last weekend, Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service had a quality trip south of Georgetown, tallying 20 trout landed on a variety of grubs and 12 reds on cut shrimp. The slot limit on red drum is 15 to 23 inches with a daily bag limit of three-fish per person in South Carolina. In North Carolina, the slot limit is 18-27 inches with a one-fish daily bag limit.
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Look for | Black sea bass, sheepshead, black drum, whiting.
Comments | Catches are very scattered on Grand Strand piers, with black drum the main desirable species still being caught. Trout are a possibility on hard-bottom areas located near piers, such as 2nd Ave. Pier. Sheepshead represent the best bet on the inshore scene with fish available on artificial reefs such as Pawleys, Paradise Reef and Jim Caudle Reef. Anglers must wade through black sea bass to reach the sheepshead, but black sea bass are off-limits and must be released until June 1, 2013. The surface ocean water temperature was 53.66 degrees early Thursday morning according to the Apache Pier Data Station.
Look for | Wahoo, blackfin tuna, bluefin tuna, triggerfish, amberjack.
Comments | When offshore conditions improve, trolling can be productive for wahoo and blackfin tuna. Grouper, triggerfish and amberjack are the main species available for recreational bottom fishermen, for now. When the clock strikes midnight to ring in 2013, grouper will join the list of off-limits species leaving bottom fishermen with virtually no reason to leave the dock until spring. Shallow-water grouper species including gag, red and scamp, are closed for recreational anglers Jan. 1 through April 30, vermilion snapper (beeliners) are closed through March 31, 2013. In addition, red snapper are closed indefinitely.
Look for | Bream, crappie, catfish, bass.
Comments | “When the weather’s good and they’re going they’re catching fish,” said Jay Booth of Fisherman’s Headquarters in Conway. Booth noted crappie action was very good before the cold front roared through at mid-week. Booth considers the Ricefields area to be the current best area followed by the Great Pee Dee and then Bucksport.
Look for bream, shellcracker and morgans in 12 feet of water hitting red worms and nightcrawlers. Look for crappie taking minnows near structure and creek mouths. Look for catfish on cut mullet and large shiners. For more information on the weekly bass tournament, call Booth at 843-397-3474.
By Gregg Holshouser, For The Sun News
Santee Cooper System | Striped Bass: Fair. Although still not frequent, reports of striper being caught are picking up. Catfish: Good. Catfish are deep but feeding extremely well in the lower lake; gizzard shad drifted or anchored are very effective.