Look For: Spotted seatrout, red drum, black drum, flounder, sheepshead.
Comments: Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters had an excellent trip on Thursday in the Little River vicinity, producing a dozen spotted seatrout, a flounder just under the 15-inch minimum size limit and a few small black drum. “We’ve been consistently catching trout all week on live mud minnows or live shrimp,” said Kelly. “It’s been excellent, actually.” On Wednesday, Kelly had good success with red drum using live shrimp. Kelly’s cohort, Capt. Chris Ossman fished with Capt. Landon Brice and the pair hit the Little River jetties to catch and release two trout measuring 28 and 30 inches on large live shrimp. “Drifting live shrimp at the rocks can be pretty productive,” said Kelly, who noted a water temperature in the 57-58 degree range this week, with some lower 60s in shallow water. On a blustery day Wednesday, Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters hit the creeks of Murrells Inlet and found trout receptive while floating live shrimp. “There’s a ton of trout in the creeks, but not a lot of keepers,” said Maples, who noted the trout were in the 12-13 inch range. The floated shrimp also produced a flounder, again just shy of the 15-inch minimum size limit. After a mild winter, Maples noticed something about the flounder. “He was fat, and this time of year they can be real skinny,” said Maples. Maples noted “snot grass” is thick on the north end of Murrells Inlet, and observed a water temperature of 58 degrees.
Look For: Black sea bass, sheepshead, black drum, flounder, weakfish, whiting.
Comments: Spring is on the way, and so are pelagic species such as bluefish, Spanish mackerel, king mackerel and cobia. But they aren’t here yet. Grand Strand piers have been active this week with Spring Break and warmer weather, and Skyler Parks of the Apache Pier reports anglers continue to catch small whiting, croaker, and puffers. Parks noted a Thursday afternoon water temperature of 62 degrees on the surface and 58 on the bottom. Look for bluefish to show up soon, followed by the Spanish, kings and culminating in May with cobia. For now, near-shore artificial reefs are holding black sea bass, sheepshead, black drum, flounder and possibly red drum.
Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, king mackerel, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grunts, porgy, amberjack.
Comments: Capt. Danny Carey of Careyon Charters headed out Wednesday aboard the 58-foot sportfishing vessel Wasted Time, owned by Wally Lee of Bishopville, in search of wahoo, and they found them. The crew went 8 for 8 on wahoo including a 59-pounder that was weighed into the S.C. Wahoo Series. The other wahoo weighed between 30 and 45 pounds in the Georgetown Hole vicinity. The crew started out high-speed trolling and caught three wahoo, then trolled ballyhoo and caught only bonito and barracuda. They went back to high-speed trolling and landed five more wahoo. Carey noted a water temperature of 72.5 degrees and “sloppy” seas of 5-6 feet. “We didn’t see another boat,” said Carey. Bottom fishing is excellent for vermilion snapper, black sea bass, red porgy and grey triggerfish. 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.
Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.
Comments: Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway looks at the receding water on local rivers and the weather forecast which includes seasonal temperatures and little rain, and knows there is good fishing ahead. “The water is falling back down and the weather looks nice,” said Stalvey. “Fishing is only going to get better from here.” Stalvey suggests targeting bream in holes in 10-15 feet of water using red worms, but knows they will very shortly be moving up on the banks as the water temperature continues to rise. In short, bream are in transition, so take float rods and lead-line rods. Catfish are hitting live shiners and fresh cut shad in deeper water, but as the bream move shallower, so will some of the catfish. Crappie are hitting jigs and medium shiners. “Bass are roaming around and should be on beds any day now, hot and heavy,” said Stalvey, who recommends using spinner baits, chatter baits, shallow-running crank baits and Texas-rigged worms.