Look For: Spotted seatrout, red drum, black drum, flounder, sheepshead.
Comments: The water temperature remains in the lower-to-mid 50s in local estuaries, which bodes well for targeting spotted seatrout and red drum. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown was in the midst of a very solid trip in the Winyah Bay vicinity on Wednesday afternoon, with a good catch of trout and a few reds despite a stiff northeast wind blowing 15-20 mph. McDonald’s crew used soft plastics — Saltwater Assassin and Matrix — on 1/4-ounce jig heads to catch their fish. “We caught fish on both the rise and the fall,” said McDonald. Trout remain active in the Little River vicinity, reports Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Inshore Charters. “It’s still mainly small trout,” said Kelly, “with bigger fish at the jetties.” In general, look for trout, black drum, red drum and possibly sheepshead and tautog at local jetties. Anglers are urged to consider releasing the prolific spawning trout that measure over 20 inches.
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Look For: Black sea bass, sheepshead, black drum, bluefish, flounder, weakfish,
Comments: The artificial reefs are the place to be near-shore in the Atlantic Ocean in wintertime. The various structure on reefs such as Paradise, Pawleys, Jim Caudle and Ron McManus hold a mix of black sea bass, sheepshead, black drum, weakfish, tautog and flounder. With the water temperature in the low-to-mid 50s, pelagics such as king mackerel, Spanish mackerel and cobia are gone to warmer water offshore or to the south. Fish activity is limited along the beach. Michael Wallace of Cherry Grove Pier reports a few “tiny whiting and small black drum” have been caught this week. “There’s not a whole lot going on,” said Wallace, who reported an ocean water temperature of 53 degrees surface and bottom.
Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, king mackerel, dolphin, vermilion snapper, black
sea bass, triggerfish, grunts, porgy, amberjack, grouper.
Comments: A day before Christmas Eve offered an opportunity for more boats to get offshore to compete in the Capt. Roger Wahoo Challenge, based out of Ocean Isle Fishing Center, which runs through New Year’s Eve. Jeff and Chance Martini and crew aboard Dirty Martini had a stellar day, catching three wahoo weighing 62.9, 60.2 and 56 pounds among the total of eight they landed. On the crew’s previous trip (boats are allowed two days fishing in the tournament), Dirty Martini weighed a 56-pounder, giving them an aggregate of 234 pounds and good for second place. Ratz Azz still leads with a 248.4-pound aggregate. Jeff Martini noted the Dirty Martini’s wahoo were caught in the 100/400 vicinity in depths of 200 feet, with a water temperature of 69-70 degrees. Martini said the wahoo hit ballyhoo trolled on skirts custom-made by Michelle Drake of Little River (www.shortriggertackle.com). Capt. Roger’s Wahoo Challenge will end on New Year’s Eve, and so will shallow-water grouper fishing in the Southeast. The annual Shallow-Water Grouper Spawning Season Closure will go into effect on Jan. 1 and remain in effect through April 30, 2019. Bottom fishing is very good for vermilion snapper, black sea bass, grey triggerfish, amberjack, red porgy and grunts. Red snapper are also available but must be released indefinitely in the South Atlantic Region.
Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.
Comments: It’s the same old story on local rivers — they continue to be high, even in flood stage. The Waccamaw River at Conway was at 12.12 feet at 2:15 p.m. Wednesday, just in the Moderate Flood Stage range, and was forecast to slowly recede. The Little Pee Dee at Galivants Ferry was at 10 feet, in Minor Flood Stage, Wednesday at 2 p.m. and was also forecast to slowly fall. The Pee Dee River at Pee Dee, between Florence and Marion, was well into Moderate Flood Stage, at midweek. Fishing prospects aren’t too bright, but the lower Waccamaw and Pee Dee in the Ricefields vicinity would be a good area to wet a hook.