Look For: Spotted seatrout, red drum, black drum, tautog, flounder, sheepshead
Comments: Winter has arrived with a vengeance, with below normal temperatures in place for this week. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown still headed out to North Inlet for three straight days of fishing and had success with spotted seatrout and red drum. McDonald used artificial grubs to catch all his fish, including nine trout and one red drum on Thursday’s trip. McDonald has also noted a major drop in the water temperature. Around New Year's Day, the water temperature in North Inlet was well above normal, in the upper 60s, approaching 70. On Thursday, McDonald observed water temps in the mid 40s, with the highest reading at 49. For now, the captain has stuck with fishing North Inlet. “(Winyah Bay) hasn't gotten quite right (from flooding conditions) and the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway) is pretty muddy,” McDonald said. In the Little River area, Capt. Mark Dickson of Shallow-Minded Inshore Charters is looking for the trout and reds to group up in their winter pattern. “It's been cold so it's time for those fish to bunch up,” said Dickson. “(Trout) should be bunched up inside (Coquina Harbor) in deeper spots. There’s still a few fish around the jetties on calm days when the weather will let you stay out there.” Dickson suggested looking for red drum grouped up in shallow areas, plus black drum in the Sunset Beach Bridge area.
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Look For: Black sea bass, whiting, black drum, weakfish, flounder, bluefish, red drum, croaker
Comments: Black sea bass and sheepshead are the current best bets in near-shore waters. Look for black sea bass on most any structure, including artificial reefs and even around Grand Strand piers, but remember the species has a 13-inch minimum size limit and a 5-fish per person daily bag limit. Dickson suggests fishing depths of 55 feet and deeper to find a good ratio of keepers to throwbacks. The crew of Dr. Jason Rosenberg's Painkiller headed out of Murrells Inlet for a chilly Wednesday trip, but quickly caught a limit of black sea bass. On the near-shore reefs such as Paradise Reef, Jim Caudle Reef and Ron McManus Reef, sheepshead should be grouping up. Also look for black sea bass and tautog, and possibly black drum, flounder and weakfish on the same reefs. Action has slowed down with the cold weather on Grand Strand piers. Look for a few whiting, croaker, dogfish and skates on the piers, with a few black drum, perch and black sea bass possibly on hand. The ocean water temperature at Springmaid Pier was 50.9 degrees at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.
Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, amberjack, vermilion snapper, triggerfish, porgy
Comments: Weather conditions haven't been conducive for offshore fishing in the last week, and with a historic winter storm moving up the East Coast this weekend, a storm warning is in effect for offshore waters. When conditions permit, trolling boats can target wahoo and possibly blackfin tuna near the Continental Shelf (the break), and king mackerel inshore of the break, likely in 70-90 feet of water. The annual shallow-water grouper spawning season closure is in effect and lasts through April 30. Otherwise, bottom fishing can produce numerous species including black sea bass, vermilion snapper, triggerfish, red porgy, grunts and amberjack. Red snapper must be released indefinitely in the South Atlantic Region.
Look For: Bream, catfish, bass, crappie.
Comments: Local rivers are either at or just below flood stage, meaning the water's still in the woods. With the high water, debris is prevalent on the rivers and boating and fishing is not recommended. As an alternative, try Lake Busbee in Conway or other public lakes in the area.