With cold weather hampering fishing, here’s what species are biting in area waters

Red drum have been the species most often encountered during the latest cold stretch along the Grand Strand.
Red drum have been the species most often encountered during the latest cold stretch along the Grand Strand. jlee@thesunnews.com


Look For: Red drum, black drum.

Comments: Fishermen are sparse on the inlets, bays, sounds and Intercoastal Waterway from Georgetown to Brunswick County, N.C., thanks to ongoing cold weather and dangerously low water temperatures. For the few anglers who have ventured out, red drum have been the species most often encountered. Look for reds in shallow water on sunny days, trying to warm up from water temperatures that are ranging from the upper 30s to lower 40s. The reds can be finicky on whether to bite, but may decide to take cut shrimp, mud minnows or artificials. A few black drum have also been landed. Spotted seatrout have been scarce for anglers, and very few dead fish have been found in local waters. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources reports fish kills of mullet, red drum, spotted seatrout and sheepshead in areas to the south of the Grand Strand. Spotted seatrout are regarded as the species most vulnerable to the cold water temperatures and the agency is encouraging anglers in Palmetto State waters to release all trout caught through the month of September. The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries has closed the spotted seatrout fishery in the Tar Heel State to recreational and commercial anglers until June 15.


Look For: Black sea bass, weakfish, tautog, sheepshead, flounder, whiting, croaker, black drum.

Comments: The ocean water temperature remained very cold on Thursday morning, after another night with lows in the lower 20s. Cherry Grove Pier reported a water temperature reading of 43 degrees at the surface and on the bottom early afternoon on Thursday. Only a few small whiting and croaker have been caught this week, with angler activity at a minimum. The near-shore artificial reefs are the best option with black sea bass the main species available. Anglers are reminded black sea bass have a 13-inch minimum size limit with a daily bag limit of seven per person. Also look for weakfish, tautog, sheepshead and flounder on the reefs.


Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, king mackerel, grouper, vermilion snapper, triggerfish, porgy, black sea bass, grunts.

Comments: Jeff Martini of Mid-Town Bistro in North Myrtle Beach found decent sea conditions on Tuesday and headed out with his crew aboard Dirty Martini in search of black sea bass. Starting at a depth of 60 feet, Martini checked on several bottom spots to find the number and size of black sea bass he was looking for. Finally, at 32 miles offshore in 90 feet of water, he found it. “The sea bass were just stacked up,” said Martini. “We’d make a drop, we’d get four on (using a four-hook rig) at a time. It’s the best I’ve ever seen.” The fish, ranging in size from 12 to 16 inches, hit squid on circle hooks in a surface water temperature of a chilly 57 degrees. Further out, trolling can produce good catches of wahoo, including some real monsters, and blackfin tuna.


Look For: Crappie, bream, bass, catfish.

Comments: It’s been a slow week on the chilly rivers, which endured two more very cold nights Tuesday and Wednesday with low air temperatures in the 20s. “I’ve had about 10 people total go fishing all week,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. “The people that are going are catching fish, (especially) bream and crappie.” Look for bream, crappie and catfish in deep holes. Lead-lining with worms for bream and minnows for crappie will work. Eels and large shiners are prime baits for catfish. Bass are hitting shaky-head worms and crankbaits and can also be found deep, said Stalvey.