Look For: Spotted seatrout, red drum, black drum, flounder, sheepshead.
Comments: It’s been a productive week for Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters in Little River. Capt. Smiley and crew caught red drum in shallow water on a rising tide using Berkeley Gulp shrimp and used cut shrimp to catch black drum on docks in the Intracoastal Waterway. “There’s been some pretty good action out there,” said Kelly, who noted a water temperature of 56 degrees Thursday. “Not bad for the end of February.” Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions in Murrells Inlet continues to have success catching gator trout during this winter to remember. Ashley Smith caught a 7-pounder while fishing with Connolly on Wednesday, plus he boated several 4-6 pounders this week. Connolly has also landed black drum and sheepshead, using live shrimp, fishing both the jetties and the creeks. Connolly also noted flounder are starting to show up. “A lot of small flounder are starting to bite in the creek,” said Connolly. Most of the flounder are under the 15-inch minimum size limit.
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Look For: Black sea bass, sheepshead, black drum, flounder, weakfish, whiting.
Comments: Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters made the rounds on four near-shore artificial reefs on a scouting trip out of Murrells Inlet on Tuesday. “There was a good mix of fish on all four reefs,” said Maples, who worked Pawleys Reef, North Inlet Reef, 10-Mile Reef and Paradise Reef. Maples used a variety of bait including shrimp, mud minnows, fiddler crabs and even Organized Chaos jigs to catch black sea bass, sheepshead, red drum and white grunts. “I was just playing to see what was down there,” said Maples. The best black sea bass action was in deeper water, in depths of 40 feet at the 10-Mile Reef. Maples caught a one-person, seven-fish black sea bass limit, with the biggest measuring just over 17 inches. “The rest were 14-15 inches,” said Maples. “Not bad for 10 miles.” Technically it’s still mid-winter, but the ocean water temperature is relatively warm. Michael Wallace of Cherry Grove Pier reported a reading of 59 degrees on the surface Thursday afternoon and 54 on the bottom. Wallace noted fishing remains slow, with only a few whiting and puffers caught this week.
Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, king mackerel, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grunts, porgy, amberjack.
Comments: A few boats took advantage of favorable seas to head offshore at midweek and found a few wahoo taking trolled ballyhoo and high-speed lures. Trolling is also producing blackfin tuna and bonito. Dirty Martini of Little River was one of those boats and didn’t fare well with the wahoo, but headed to deep water to land several snowy grouper. Dr. Jason Rosenberg, owner of Painkiller out of Murrells Inlet, and Capt. Jay Sconyers proved there is outstanding bottom fishing available in the offshore waters, bringing in a superb catch of vermilion snapper, black sea bass, grey triggerfish, saucer-eyed porgy and grunts on Wednesday. Sconyers headed to bottom spots in 100 feet of water and used cut squid fished just off the bottom for the bottom-fish smackdown. Closures of reef species currently in effect for recreational anglers in South Atlantic waters include the annual shallow-water grouper spawning season closure and deep-water blueline tilefish and snowy grouper closure until May 1. Red snapper are also off-limits indefinitely and must be released. The greater amberjack fishery opens back up on Friday (March 1).
Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.
Comments: The Waccamaw River and Pee Dee River are producing very good catches of bream, crappie and catfish, reports Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. “There’s just been a whole bunch of fish caught this week,” said Stalvey. Bass are nearing spawning mode, and are being caught on a variety of artificials. Look for bream in lakes and deep ditches off the main river while crappie are taking medium shiners on structure around ditch or creek mouths. With shad in the midst of their late winter spawning run, catfish are gobbling up fresh cut shad.