Look for | Spotted seatrout, red drum, black drum, sheepshead.
Comments | It’s much more winter-like in the estuary waters as February arrives than it has been in recent weeks. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown reported a water temperature of 49 degrees at both South Island Ferry and the Sampit River on Wednesday. After the recent warm spell, red drum appear to have returned to their winter mode and are again grouped up. McDonald tried his luck with the reds in the Winyah Bay vicinity on Wednesday. “I saw a good many fish, several groups, but they were spooked up and wouldn’t bite,” McDonal said. Capt. Mark Dickson of Shallow-Minded Inshore Charters in Little River landed a few spotted seatrout and reds on his two most recent trips. “There’s not much going on anywhere,” Dickson said. As long as the water temperature remains above the 48-degree mark, trout should remain active.
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Look for | Black drum, sheepshead.
Comments | Action has returned to its winter-time norm on Grand Strand piers with very little activity reported. Ocean water temperature was 51.71 degrees at 11 a.m. on Thursday at Apache Pier, marking a significant drop of about seven degrees in the last two weeks. The best option for inshore anglers in the near-shore waters of the Atlantic continues to be targeting sheepshead and black drum on artificial reefs such as Paradise Reef, Jim Caudle Reef and Pawleys Reef. Black sea bass cannot be harvested until June 1.
Look for | Wahoo, blackfin tuna, amberjack, triggerfish.
Comments | When conditions moderate and calm down in the wake of the cold front, wahoo and blackfin tuna are a possibility for trolling boats near the Gulf Stream. Bottom fishing is a tough situation in the winter and early spring with most desirable species off-limits along the South Atlantic coast. For recreational anglers, shallow-water grouper species including gag, red and scamp among others, are closed until May 1 and vermilion snapper (beeliners) are closed until April 1. Also, red snapper are closed indefinitely.
Look for | Bream, crappie, bass, catfish.
Comments | Winter fishing mode remains in place on local rivers with bream, plus morgans and shellcracker, being caught in 8-10 feet of water on the bottom hitting worms. Look for crappie in the same depths, hitting minnows. Top areas are Yauhannah, Bucksport and the Samworth WMA vicinity. Jay Booth of Fisherman’s Headquarters in Conway notes good crappie action has been found in the Conway Marina area. Booth calls catfish action fair to good on cut shad. The weekly bass tournament last Saturday was won by Don McCloud of Conway with a three-fish aggregate of 4.0 pounds. The next tournament will be held Saturday at Bucksport with fishing set for 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
By Gregg Holshouser, For The Sun News
Santee Cooper System | Catfish: Fair to good. Fish are being caught in deep water around suspended bait. Establishing a slow drift with the standard drift rig or fishing vertically with suspended baits. Bait of choice is cut menhaden. Striped bass: Fair. Stripers are feeding on stressed threadfin shad and will take slow trolled artificials or spoons and slow drifted live baits. Crappie: Fair. Success requires light winds and a stable weather pattern. Crappie will take jigs more readily this time of year. Largemouth bass: Fair to good. Sunny days warm the shallows a degree or two and bass will hit slow rolled spinner baits and shallow running crank baits. Vertical jigging with spoons on deeper drops also will trigger a good largemouth strike.