Estuary• Look For | Red drum, spotted seatrout, black drum, sheepshead.
• Comments | With an upswing in air and water temperatures this week, red drum and spotted seatrout are slowly coming out of the winter doldrums. But that doesn't necessarily mean action is great for the two species. “We’re seeing fish, sometimes we're just watching them swim by,” said Capt. Mark Dickson of Shallow-Minded Inshore Charters in Little River. “The bite is so light on a Vudu shrimp, you get two head shakes out of him and then you just skip him to the boat.” Dickson, who noted a water temperature of 52-53 degrees Tuesday, has used Gulp swimming mullet and shrimp to catch red drum, but noted he let the artificial bait sit on the bottom without retrieving it to get the bite. The reds Dickson caught were in the 18-20 inch range. “I saw some nicer fish, but they weren't biting, not for me anyway,” said Dickson. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown had a decent day on Sunday, catching two reds (weighing 2 and 6 pounds) and two trout, both in the 2-3 pound range. McDonald, who observed a 58-degree water temperature in Winyah Bay, caught the fish on artificial grubs.
Inshore• Look For | Black sea bass, sheepshead, black drum, flounder, tautog, perch.
• Comments | Mother Nature has provided a few decent days over the last week and several boats headed out to take advantage of black sea bass and sheepshead that are present on near-shore artificial reefs. Fiddler crabs are a good bait choice for sheepshead while a variety of baits will work for black sea bass including cut mullet, shrimp or squid, live mud minnows or jigs. Black sea bass have a 13-inch minimum size limit and a 5-fish per person daily bag limit. With the water temperature still in the lower 50s along the beach, action is slow on Grand Strand piers. The surface ocean water temperature at Apache Pier was 51.98 degrees at 4:15 p.m. on Thursday, an increase of almost eight degrees over the last two weeks.
Offshore• Look For | Wahoo, blackfin tuna, black sea bass, grouper, vermilion snapper, amberjack.
• Comments | Jeff Martini, son Chance and company aboard Dirty Martini headed way, way offshore, as in 85 miles, on Monday to take advantage of a slick ocean. The crew came back into Little River with a nice catch of wahoo, snowy grouper and blueline tilefish, with the bottom fish caught in depths of 700 feet. Wahoo remain the best bet for trolling boats until dolphin make the scene in a little over a month. Bottom fishing continues to be very good for large black sea bass, vermilion snapper, triggerfish and amberjack. The annual shallow-water Grouper Spawning Season Closure is in effect through April 30. Also, red snapper are off-limits indefinitely in the South Atlantic Region and must be released.
Freshwater• Look For | Bream, crappie, bass, shad, catfish.
• Comments | Kelly Woodward of Rick's Bait and Tackle in Conway reports bream are moving in to shallower water in the rivers as the water warms up. While bream are still being caught in depths of 15 feet, Woodward reports some have been landed as shallow as four feet. Lead-lining worms on the bottom continues to be the best method to catch bream, for now. Also look for crappie around brush, hitting minnows in 10-15 feet. Catfish are hitting cut shad or eels. McDonald fished Lake Moultrie on Thursday and used plastic worms to catch and release a pair of bass in the 3-4 pound range.