Look For: Spotted seatrout, red drum, black drum, flounder, sheepshead.
Comments: The upside to the rainy weather this week is it has come with warmer air temperatures producing warmer water temperatures, which means spotted seatrout remain very active in local estuaries from Georgetown to Brunswick County, N.C. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service caught good numbers of trout on a Wednesday trip in the Winyah Bay vicinity. “We caught a bunch of small trout, all on artificials,” said McDonald, who also produced a flounder just under the 15-inch minimum size limit. Most anglers are using artificials, as live shrimp has not been necessary to catch fish. McDonald used Saltwater Assassin soft plastics on 1/4-ounce jig heads along with Mirrolures to catch his fish. McDonald says color currently isn’t important.”I don’t think it makes any difference, we caught them on different colors,” said McDonald, who noted a water temperature in the lower 50s. The Vudu shrimp has also been very productive. Jetties at Winyah Bay, Murrells Inlet and Little River are producing trout, black drum, red drum and possibly sheepshead and tautog. Look for larger trout well above the 14-inch minimum size limit at the jetties, but consider releasing the prolific spawning fish that measure over 20 inches.
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Look For: Black sea bass, sheepshead, black drum, bluefish, flounder, weakfish, whiting, croaker.
Comments: Black sea bass, with a 13-inch minimum size limit, and sheepshead are the best bet on near-shore artificial reefs with weakfish, black drum, tautog and flounder also available. On the near-shore hard-bottom areas, weakfish are still active with black sea bass also available. Winter officially arrived on Friday, which means fish activity along the beach is winding down. Steve Gann of the Cherry Grove Pier reports only a few small whiting and croaker have been caught this week. Anglers have been scarce as well. Gann noted an ocean water temperature of 53 degrees Thursday morning.
Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, king mackerel, dolphin, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grunts, porgy, amberjack, grouper.
Comments: On select weather days, which have been few and far between, boats have been able to get offshore and enjoy some superb trolling for wahoo. The Capt. Roger Wahoo Challenge continues through Dec. 31 out of Ocean Isle Fishing Center, and Ratz Azz of Ocean Isle Beach jumped to the front of the leader board on back-to-back days last week. The event allows boats to fish two days and weigh in two wahoo per day. On Dec. 12, Brad Wood and crew weighed in a pair of wahoo weighing 55.9 and 63 pounds. The next day, Wood and company headed offshore again and returned with wahoo weighing 66.25 and 63.25 pounds. When the dust had cleared, Ratz Azz was atop the leader board with an outstanding four-wahoo aggregate of 248.4 pounds. Quote Boat, headed by Tom Ronner is in second place with 233.5 pounds followed by Choice Of Two with 216.05 pounds. There are nice blackfin tuna to be found also, as Robby Remson aboard Long Run leads that category with a 20.8-pounder. Grouper fishing is excellent, even in depths of 50 to 90 feet, but the annual Shallow-Water Grouper Spawning Season Closure will go into effect on Jan. 1 and remain in effect through April 30, 2019. For now, the red grouper fishery is closed to harvest for recreational anglers through Dec. 31, then the species is included in the Shallow-Water Grouper Spawning Season Closure. There are plenty of reef species available for harvest, though, including vermilion snapper, black sea bass, grey triggerfish, amberjack, red porgy and grunts. Of course, Red snapper are also available but must be released indefinitely in the South Atlantic Region.
Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.
Comments: With the Waccamaw River in minor flood Stage, the Little Pee Dee in Moderate Flood Stage and other area rivers overflowing their banks, freshwater fishing activity is at a standstill. It’s been a brutal three months on local rivers since Hurricane Florence spawned devastating flooding in early September. “We’re waiting on springtime now,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. “It’s been pitiful. There’s not a whole lot to say.”