Look For: Spotted seatrout, red drum, black drum, tautog, flounder, sheepshead
Comments: An amazing December continues with the water temperature in estuaries all along the Grand Strand well above average. The water temperature reading at NOAA's Station NIQS1 at Oyster Landing in North Inlet was a balmy 66.56 degrees at 2:45 p.m. Wednesday. For comparison sake, according to the Winyah Bay-North Inlet Water Temperature Climatology, the historical average water temperature in the estuary for December 21-31 is 52 degrees. If nothing else, the warm water means all regular estuary residents are very active for holiday anglers to target, including spotted seatrout, red drum, black drum, flounder and sheepshead. Trout are the best bet with fish hitting live bait, cut bait or artificials, but live shrimp are clearly the best option. All of these species can be found at area jetties in addition to tautog.
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Look For: Black sea bass, whiting, black drum, weakfish, flounder, bluefish, red drum, croaker
Comments: The big news in recent days has been a pair of bluefin tuna landed by anglers fishing out of Brunswick County, N.C. John Dosher of Oak Island Fishing Charters was part of a crew that caught a huge 113-inch bluefin on Dec. 6, a fish regarded as the largest bluefin ever caught out of Brunswick County. Then, on Sunday, Capt. Ryan Williams of Catch 22 Charters in Holden Beach, N.C., brought in a 90-inch bluefin. The go-to area for bluefins is around the Knuckle Buoy at Frying Pan Shoals, about 15-17 miles south of Bald Head Island. Trolling horse ballyhoo with a 10/0 or larger hook is the method to get a bite from a bluefin. Otherwise, black sea bass and tautog on near-shore structure and artificial reefs is the best bet. Also look for weakfish, flounder and sheepshead on the same spots. In normal years, fishing in the surf and off Grand Strand piers would typically be reduced to no action by Christmas. But this isn't a normal year, as the ocean water temperature at Springmaid Pier in Myrtle Beach was 61 degrees at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. Holiday anglers have been catching whiting, black drum, croaker and bluefish with a few weakfish also landed. Most of the black drum are under the 14- to 27-inch slot limit and must be released.
Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, grouper, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, amberjack, vermilion snapper, triggerfish, porgy
Comments: Anglers have one more week to enjoy harvesting shallow water grouper as the annual Shallow Water Grouper Spawning Season Closure goes into effect on Jan. 1 and lasts through April 30, 2016. Under the closure there is a prohibition on recreational and commercial harvest or possession of gag, black grouper, red grouper, scamp, red hind, rock hind, coney, graysby, yellowfin grouper and yellowmouth grouper. Currently, bottom fishing is producing excellent catches of black sea bass, triggerfish, vermilion snapper, grouper, red porgy, grunts and amberjack. With water temperatures well above normal near the break, trolling boats have had very good catches of wahoo, with a few blackfin tuna and dolphin mixed in.
Look For: Bream, catfish, bass, crappie
Comments: There is another rise projected in the rivers after heavy rain across the state earlier this week. The water temperature at Hagley Landing on the Waccamaw River was well above normal, at 57 degrees midday Wednesday. Crappie continue to be the best bet on the rivers with fish hitting crappie minnows floated around structure. Bream continue to be found near the banks, hitting worms. Catfish will hit a variety of live or cut baits.