Look For: Spotted seatrout, red drum, black drum, flounder, sheepshead.
Comments: Despite last weekend’s cold weather, the first significant cold snap of the fall and winter, fish have remained active in local estuaries. Capt. Englis Glover of Reelin Up The Coast was joined by Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions and Capt. Jason Burton of Murrells Inlet Fishing Charters on Wednesday to film a segment of the show. The trio stuck with the Murrells Inlet jetties and had success with a variety of species. “We caught a ton of fish, trout, reds, sheepshead, black drum,” said Connolly. The crew floated live shrimp to catch their fish, although live shrimp are scarce at local bait shops. Earlier in the week, Connolly fished the creeks of the inlet and found there remain good numbers of trout under the 14-inch minimum size limit. “We caught 60 trout with two keepers on Z-Man (artificials),” said Connolly. Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Charters went out in the middle of the cold snap last Saturday and had a solid day. “It was semi slow compared to last week,” said Kelly, who produced a “nice red” and six trout on the trip. Kelly has his eye on the coldest weather of the winter, due to arrive Sunday night. “I think until then the fishing should be pretty good (with midday low tides),” said Kelly. “(The midday low tide) gives the flats time to warm up a little bit, and you can fish that incoming tide.” Kelly will initially fish for red drum on low water, then trout as the tide rises.
Look For: Black sea bass, sheepshead, black drum, flounder, weakfish, whiting, croaker.
Comments: Capt. Perrin Wood of Southern Saltwater Charters headed out to the near-shore artificial reefs on Wednesday in search of sheepshead and black drum, which are expected to arrive on such spots at any time. Wood found plenty of black sea bass, most under the 13-inch minimum size limit and a slot red drum instead. Look for sheepshead and black drum to show up on the reefs after the pending cold front, if not before. Norma Madaras of Apache Pier reports pretty good action on the pier for mid-January, with anglers catching whiting, croaker, trout and black drum, including some keeper trout and black drum. Madaras reported an ocean water temperature of 53 degrees. “We’ve got people fishing out there every day,” said Madaras. “They’re mostly catching whiting.”
Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, king mackerel, dolphin, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grunts, porgy, amberjack, grouper.
Comments: The Dirty Martini crew out of Little River headed offshore Wednesday and good success on a commercial outing for snowy grouper, plus added a wahoo in the 80-pound class to their catch. Trolling is producing wahoo and blackfin tuna. Bottom spots are producing vermilion snapper, black sea bass, grey triggerfish, amberjack, red porgy and grunts. There are plenty of fish in the snapper-grouper complex that are currently closed for recreational anglers. The annual shallow-water grouper spawning season closure is in effect through the month of April and includes gag grouper, black grouper, red grouper, scamp, red hind, rock hind, yellowmouth grouper, yellowfin grouper, graysby, and coney. In addition, Greater amberjack is closed until March 1, and deep-water blueline tilefish and snowy grouper are closed until May 1. Red snapper are off-limits indefinitely in the South Atlantic Region and must be released.
Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.
Comments: Area rivers are receding and in much better shape this week, with only the Great Pee Dee River at Pee Dee still in Minor Flood Stage. The Waccamaw at Conway was at 10.22 feet at 3:15 p.m. Thursday and falling. The Little Pee Dee was at Galivants Ferry was at 8.75 feet, just below Minor Flood Stage, at 3 p.m. Thursday and falling. Although few anglers are on the water, the lower Waccamaw and Pee Dee in the Ricefields vicinity are good spots to target bream, bass, crappie and catfish.