‘BAIT-STEAL­ING CRIT­TERS’ ARE LIN­GER­ING IN WARM WA­TERS,

The Sun News - - Sports - BY GREGG HOLSHOUSER

ES­TU­ARY

Look For: Spot­ted seatrout, black drum, red drum, floun­der, sheepshead.

Com­ments: It’s just a lit­tle warm for early Novem­ber, says Capt. Dan Con­nolly of O-Fish-Al Ex­pe­di­tions in Mur­rells In­let, although colder weather is on the way. Con­nolly has noted a wa­ter tem­per­a­ture in the up­per 60s, when lower 60s would be con­sid­ered closer to nor­mal. “It’s been a lit­tle strange for this time of year,” said Con­nolly. “It’s a higher wa­ter tem­per­a­ture than nor­mal, and that’s keep­ing the bait-steal­ing crit­ters around.” That has also kept more fin­ger mul­let around than usual, and that’s good news. “If you want to catch an in­shore slam of nice keep­ers, get­ting your hands on some live fin­ger mul­let is the way to go,” Con­nolly said. On a Wed­nes­day trip, Con­nolly’s crew used mul­let to catch sev­eral trout, floun­der and two up­per slot red drum, plus used a com­bi­na­tion of shrimp and fiddler crabs to catch four keep­ers out of eight black drum. Con­nolly notes that float­ing live shrimp will also pro­duce fish, es­pe­cially trout. “With live shrimp on a float, you’ll catch 90 per­cent dinks and 10 per­cent keep­ers,” said Con­nolly. Ar­ti­fi­cials such as Z-Man pad­dle tail Swim­baits, Vudu shrimp, DOA shrimp and Trout Trick will also work for trout.

IN­SHORE

Look For: King mack­erel, Span­ish mack­erel, red drum, blue­fish, spade­fish, sheepshead, black sea bass, floun­der, weak­fish, whit­ing, croaker, pom­pano, black drum.

Com­ments: King mack­erel ac­tion has slowed near the beach ex­cept, per­haps, a few large loner kings. Capt. Per­rin Wood of South­ern Saltwater Char­ters rec­om­mends head­ing to live-bot­tom ar­eas and ledges in 50-60 feet of wa­ter to find school­ing kings. The wa­ter tem­per­a­ture is about to take a ma­jor plunge in the next week, mean­ing ac­tion for black sea bass (13-inch min­i­mum size limit ) will be good on bot­tom spots from three to 15 miles out in 30-50 feet of wa­ter. Near-shore bot­tom spots are hold­ing weak­fish, whit­ing, floun­der and per­haps bull red drum. Michael Wal­lace of Cherry Grove Pier re­ports a good run of spots oc­curred on the pier from Fri­day through Sun­day, with most of the fish be­ing small. Apache Pier also re­ported a spot run last week­end. The piers are pro­duc­ing a mix of whit­ing, pom­pano, black drum, red drum, floun­der, blue­fish and a few Span­ish mack­erel. Wal­lace re­ported a wa­ter tem­per­a­ture of 69 de­grees Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

OFF­SHORE

Look For: Wahoo, black­fin tuna, king mack­erel, dol­phin, ver­mil­ion snap­per, black sea bass, trig­ger­fish, grunts, porgy, am­ber­jack, grouper.

Com­ments: Capt. Danny Carey of Careyon Char­ters headed off­shore in his 30-foot Sea Hunt on Wed­nes­day with wahoo on the brain. Carey tried high-speed trolling and meat trolling, but didn’t get a wahoo bite in the vicin­ity of the Ge­orge­town Hole in 75de­gree wa­ter. Carey and crew did land six black­fin tuna. “The wa­ter is still on the dirty side out there,” said Carey. “That wa­ter’s got to get bluer.” Carey and crew did hit the bot­tom and had a very good catch of stan­dard reef species such as ver­mil­ion snap­per, black sea bass, trig­ger­fish and porgy. The high­light of the day was four hog­fish, in­clud­ing a huge 19-pounder that hit a se­cret bait. They also caught three red snap­per, in­clud­ing one in the 15-pound range. Of course, red snap­per can­not be har­vested in the South At­lantic Re­gion and must be re­leased.

FRESH­WA­TER

Look For: Bream, bass, cat­fish, crap­pie.

Com­ments: Af­ter the worst flood­ing in the his­tory of the Wac­ca­maw River, there are fi­nally signs of life. “We’re start­ing to see a lit­tle life bream, crap­pie, bass and cat­fish,” said Ron­ald “Cat­fish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle. The lower end of the Pee Dee and Wac­ca­maw rivers, in the Rice­fields vicin­ity, has pro­duced some fish this week. An­glers are urged to limit the num­ber of fish har­vested un­til the full ex­tent of the fish kill caused by Hur­ri­cane Florence’s flood­ing can be de­ter­mined. Fur­ther up­stream, the sit­u­a­tion is dire. Stalvey noted a bass tour­na­ment was held on the Wac­ca­maw River in the Con­way vicin­ity and there were no bass caught by the field. “No­body’s fish­ing up there on the Wac­ca­maw near Con­way,” said Stalvey. The Wac­ca­maw was at 8.61 feet at 3:15 p.m. Thurs­day at Con­way and mak­ing good tides. The Lit­tle Pee Dee River was still high, at 7.67 feet at 4 p.m. Thurs­day at Gali­vants Ferry.

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