Outdoors

Fishing report (March 18, 2016)

Hundreds of fishermen lined the rails of the Apache Pier last August for a day of fishing.
Hundreds of fishermen lined the rails of the Apache Pier last August for a day of fishing. The Sun News

Estuary

Look For: Flounder, red drum, black drum, spotted seatrout, tautog, sheepshead.

Comments: Air temperatures have been well above normal and the water temperature is getting up there as well. The Bradford pears and dogwoods are blooming – and yes – flounder are stirring. From North Inlet to Murrells Inlet and on up to Cherry Grove Inlet, anglers are beginning to report springtime catches of flounder. Try mud minnows on Carolina rigs or jig heads to catch them, but don’t forget about artificials. Capt. Mark Dickson of Shallow-Minded Inshore Charters has caught flounder this week on Vudu shrimp and Gulp shrimp in Cherry Grove Inlet and Tubbs Inlet. Dickson has also produced black drum and spotted seatrout on the same baits. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service caught four trout and one redfish on a Tuesday trip to North Inlet and Winyah Bay, but lost several fish near the boat. McDonald was using CAL Bait grubs to catch his fish and reported a water temperature of 65 degrees in North Inlet at high tide at 5 p.m. Thursday. While the water temperature has increased rapidly over the last week, a dose of weather reality is on the way this weekend. “There will have to be some adjustments made at the first of the week with this cool down,” said Dickson. Look for black drum, sheepshead and tautog at area jetties, along with trout, reds and flounder.

Inshore

Look For: Black sea bass, sheepshead, black drum, whiting, croaker.

Comments: The near-shore reefs continue to produce nice catches of sheepshead and black drum, with some tautog also in the mix. Plenty of black sea bass are also on hand, but many are under the 13-inch minimum size limit. Fiddler crabs are the prime bait for the sheepshead, and the other three species will take them, too. Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Charters caught black drum and one red drum on the Pawleys Reef this week. Last Saturday, Maples headed to the North Inlet Reef and caught numerous black sea bass on cut bait and mud minnows. There was a catch, though. “We caught two keepers out of I’ll bet 200 sea bass,” Maples said. “The majority of them were 12.5 inches.” Head further out, to depths beyond 60 feet to find larger black sea bass. Whiting have been making a showing this week on Grand Strand piers. Deon Grainger of Apache Pier reports one angler caught 25 whiting off the pier on Thursday. A black drum was also caught off the pier the same day. Despite the warmer-than-normal weather, the water temperature was still a chilly 55.4 degrees Thursday at 5:36 at the Springmaid Pier.

Offshore

Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, barracuda, bonito, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, porgy, grunts, amberjack.

Comments: Trolling action in the offshore waters in spots such as the Winyah Scarp and Black Jack Hole are producing some huge wahoo, including fish upwards of 50 pounds. Blackfin tuna have also been encountered and landed, but it’s still a little early for dolphin to show up for real. Veteran Capt. Eric Heiden produced a great catch of bottom fish on a Sunday trip out of Georgetown Landing Marina. Heiden’s crew loaded the box with a mix of porgy, grunts, black sea bass, vermilion snapper and amberjack. The annual Shallow-Water Grouper Spawning Season Closure is in effect and lasts through April 30. Red snapper must be released indefinitely in the South Atlantic Region.

Freshwater

Look For: Bream, catfish, bass, crappie.

Comments: Area rivers such as the Waccamaw and Pee Dee continue to drop and are trending down, which is great news for area fishermen. Bream are hitting worms and crappie are taking crickets, while catfish are hitting cut shad and cut eels. Catches of shad continue to be good at the Tailrace Canal at Moncks Corner.

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