Look For: Red drum, black drum, spotted seatrout, flounder, sheepshead, tautog.
Comments: Another slow week is in the books, with little fishing and very little catching going on in the estuaries. Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions took a group out on Murrells Inlet on Monday, and it was the same story – fish were seen but not caught. “I saw plenty of (5-6 inch) mullet, saw some reds and smaller black drum mixed together, and a lot of snot grass,” said Connolly. “That’s tough when you can see ‘em but can’t catch ‘em.” Connolly did note a water temperature on the cusp of the 50-degree mark. As a precautionary measure, the South Carolina DNR is asking anglers to practice catch and release of all spotted seatrout through the end of September. In North Carolina waters, spotted seatrout are closed to harvest for all fishermen, recreational and commercial, until June 15.
Look For: Sheepshead, black sea bass, black drum, tautog, weakfish, flounder, whiting, croaker.
Comments: “I’ve had some people out fishing but other than a few nibbles, nothing,” said Steve Gann of Cherry Grove Pier. “I haven’t seen anything pulled up in the last few days. But it is February.” Gann noted a water temperature of 49 degrees at 4:15 p.m. Thursday. The best bet for near-shore anglers is to target sheepshead on artificial reefs within 10 miles of the beach. Fiddler crabs are the prime bait, and chumming with barnacles is a wise move. Also look for black sea bass on the reefs, with black drum, flounder, weakfish and tautog also a possibility.
Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, king mackerel, grouper, vermilion snapper, triggerfish, porgy, black sea bass, grunts.
Comments: The seas calmed for a day on Tuesday, and Capt. Jay Sconyers of Aces Up Fishing took advantage on a bottom-fishing trip out of Murrells Inlet. Sconyers’ crew filled the box with a super catch of black sea bass, grey triggerfish, vermilion snapper, red porgy and white grunts. Meanwhile, Jeff Martini and crew aboard Dirty Martini went deeper, and brought in a load of snowy grouper, plus a golden tilefish in the 40-pound range. Wahoo fishing can be superb in the winter months for trolling boats, with blackfin tuna and perhaps a few dolphin in the mix. The annual Shallow-Water Grouper Spawning Season Closure is in effect through April 30, the Greater amberjack fishery is closed to harvest for recreational anglers until March, and red snapper are closed indefinitely in the South Atlantic region and must be released.
Look For: Bream, crappie, bass, catfish.
Comments: “Not a whole lot have been going, but for those that have, fishing’s been quite phenomenal,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. Bream are hitting worms lead-lined in deep holes. “The prettiest mess I’ve seen came off the Little Pee Dee just fishing deep holes and the lakes,” said Stalvey. Stalvey reported one pair of anglers caught 17 crappie on shiners while fishing a lake near Yauhannah, with the smallest measuring 13 inches. Stalvey reports catfish have been hitting minnows and cut eel. “I haven’t seen any big, big ones, but I’ve seen plenty of good eating-size catfish,” he said. Stalvey reports the top bass catches have been five-fish limits of 15 and 18 pounds in the last few weeks. Stalvey says the effectiveness of crankbaits and spinnerbaits have been off and on, but he did have a suggestion. “When in doubt, throw the worm,” Stalvey said.