Outdoors

Grand Strand Fishing Report: The prime season for spotted seatrout has arrived

Charlie Nash of Garden City Beach shows off a black sea bass caught on a live-bottom area just offshore of Myrtle Beach. As the water cools in autumn, keeper black sea bass above the 13-inch minimum size limit move into shallower water.
Charlie Nash of Garden City Beach shows off a black sea bass caught on a live-bottom area just offshore of Myrtle Beach. As the water cools in autumn, keeper black sea bass above the 13-inch minimum size limit move into shallower water. For The Sun News

Estuary

Look For: Spotted seatrout, black drum, red drum, flounder, sheepshead.

Comments: It is prime season for spotted seatrout, also known as winter trout or speckled trout, and the consensus is there are plenty of fish available from Georgetown to Brunswick County, N.C. The consensus is also that the majority of the fish being caught are under the 14-inch minimum size limit which applies to North and South Carolina. “There are lots of small trout around,” said Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters in Little River. “We’re starting to catch some keepers, but most trout are 13 3/4 inches.” There are also plenty of red drum around, plus black drum and flounder. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown headed down the Intracoastal Waterway south of Winyah Bay and found plenty of fish on a trip early this week. McDonald’s crew caught over 40 trout ranging from 8 to 19 inches in length, with 15 kept for table fare. The group also caught over 20 reds, most on the lower end of South Carolina’s slot limit of 15-23 inches. McDonald used artificial grubs to catch the trout and cut shrimp for the reds. Some of the artificials Kelly used to catch trout included Berkeley Gulp shrimp (white with chartreuse tails) and Vudu shrimp (Cajun Pepper). “With trout, there’s gotta be current,” said Kelly, who noted a water temperature of 62 degrees early in the week. “If the tide’s running good, they’ll be there. Fishing’s really good. If you want to get out there and get your line tight, now’s a really good time to go.”

Inshore

Look For: King mackerel, Spanish mackerel, red drum, bluefish, spadefish, sheepshead, black sea bass, flounder, weakfish, whiting, croaker, pompano, black drum.

Comments: The water temperature has dropped below the 65-degree mark, and king mackerel won’t be available in the near-shore waters much longer. For now, head out to spots in depths of 40-60 feet such as The Jungle, Belky Bear or Buoy City to find kings. “It’s been so nasty and rough,” said Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Fishing Charters in Murrells Inlet. “I’d start at the Bear and then work on out.” The coolest weather of the autumn has arrived, and so have larger black sea bass on bottom spots from 3-15 miles out in 30-50 feet of water. Also don’t be surprised to find some keeper black sea bass at or above the 13-inch minimum size limit on near-shore hard-bottom areas, which are holding weakfish and flounder too. Look for sheepshead to begin showing up on near-shore artificial reefs soon. Michael Wallace of Cherry Grove Pier reports a small run of spots on Wednesday from noon to 4 p.m. Otherwise, Grand Strand piers have been producing scattered catches of whiting, croaker, black drum, weakfish and spots. Wallace noted a water temperature of 64 degrees Wednesday afternoon, and dropping.

Offshore

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

Comments: It’s been a sloppy week in the offshore waters, including a gale warning on Thursday. Seas look fishable for Saturday and Sunday, and wahoo is the prime target for trolling action during autumn. Blackfin tuna are also available and king mackerel a possibility. Bottom fishing is excellent for grouper, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, grey triggerfish, amberjack, red porgy and grunts. Red snapper are common on the offshore reefs and ledges, but must be released indefinitely in the South Atlantic Region.

Freshwater

Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.

Comments: The lower Waccamaw River is the place to be for anglers looking for bream, bass and crappie, from Bucksport to points further south. “The one location I would go to is the Ricefields,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. For bass, Stalvey suggests working outer curves and well into ditch mouths. Both Pee Dee rivers are on the rise, and fishing is tough. The Little Pee Dee at Galivants Ferry was at 8.08 feet Thursday at 4 p.m. and was projected to rise into minor flood stage by Sunday. The Pee Dee at Pee Dee, located between Marion and Florence, was at 19 feet Thursday at 4 p.m. and was expected to rise into moderate flood stage.

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