Chill­ier waters good for near-shore reefs

The Sun News - - Scoreboard - BY GREGG HOLSHOUSER

ES­TU­ARY

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

Com­ments: What’s hap­pen­ing in lo­cal in­lets as De­cem­ber ar­rives? “Trout, trout and more trout,” said Capt. Dan Con­nolly of O-Fish-Al Ex­pe­di­tions in Murrells In­let. “(They’re tak­ing) live shrimp and soft plas­tics. Keep on fish­ing and catch­ing and mov­ing to spots un­til you catch some keep­ers.” Con­nolly of­fered good ad­vice to an­glers catch­ing numer­ous trout un­der the 14-inch min­i­mum size limit and the oc­ca­sional large, ga­tor trout. “(It’s) im­por­tant to take good care of the small ones, keep only the medium-size fish, and (take a) pic­ture and re­lease the ga­tors.” Trout have also been the main catch for Capt. Mike Mc­Don­ald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Ser­vice in Ge­orge­town, fish­ing in the Winyah Bay vicin­ity. Mc­Don­ald took a group of three young­sters and two adults and fin­ished with 15 trout, one red drum and a floun­der. The crew used plas­tic grubs fished on 1/4-ounce jig heads, and Mc­Don­ald said “the color didn’t make any dif­fer­ence.” Mc­Don­ald was out for a quick, chilly trip Thurs­day af­ter­noon and noted a wa­ter tem­per­a­ture of 50 de­grees at South Is­land Ferry.

IN­SHORE

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

Com­ments: With the ocean wa­ter tem­per­a­ture drop­ping to near the mid-50s, look for sheepshead and black drum to be­gin show­ing on nearshore ar­ti­fi­cial reefs in depths of 30-50 feet. “For those that don’t want to ven­ture too far out, you can pick up some good fish on those reefs,” said Capt. Per­rin Wood of South­ern Salt­wa­ter Char­ters. Plenty of black sea bass, in­clud­ing some keep­ers above the 13-inch min­i­mum size limit, are avail­able on the same reefs, plus weak­fish and floun­der. Michael Wal­lace of the Cherry Grove Pier re­ported a wa­ter tem­per­a­ture of 57 de­grees Thurs­day af­ter­noon, with a few small whit­ing and black drum be­ing caught this week. Spot­ted seatrout and weak­fish have been landed from the surf ad­ja­cent to the piers and on hard-bot­tom ar­eas close to the beach this week.

OFF­SHORE

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

Com­ments: Capt. Roger’s Wa­hoo Chal­lenge staged by Ocean Isle Fish­ing Cen­ter has proven that, yes, there is qual­ity wa­hoo ac­tion in the off­shore waters in late au­tumn. The on­go­ing tour­na­ment, which con­tin­ues through Dec. 31 and has a field of 58 boats, has seen wa­hoo weigh­ing 97 and 73 pounds brought to the scales at the OIFC. The Quote Boat, headed by Tom Ron­ner, leads the tour­na­ment thus far with a four-wa­hoo ag­gre­gate of 233.5 pounds. Trolling boats are also pro­duc­ing good catches of black­fin tuna. Au­tumn also brings reef fish in to shal­lower bot­tom spots, with good ac­tion for grouper, ver­mil­ion snap­per, black sea bass, grey trig­ger­fish, am­ber­jack, red porgy and grunts avail­able in depths of 50 to 90 feet. “You don’t even have to go out to the Park­ing Lot right now,” said Wood. Don’t be sur­prised to find a few co­bia cur­rently hold­ing on the same bot­tom spots. Red snap­per are also avail­able but must be re­leased in­def­i­nitely in the South At­lantic Re­gion.

FRESH­WA­TER

Look For: Bream, bass, cat­fish, crap­pie.

Com­ments: “We’re start­ing to see some good signs of life,” said Ron­ald “Cat­fish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Con­way. “I’ve seen some fine, fine bream caught at Red Bluff (on the Wac­ca­maw River).” Stalvey noted the bream were caught in deep wa­ter with worms fished on the bot­tom. On the lower end of the Wac­ca­maw, the Rice­fields area con­tin­ues to be the go-to spot. Bass are hit­ting crankbaits, spin­ner­baits and Texas-rigged craw baits in creek mouths. Crap­pie ac­tion has been good in the area of the river ad­ja­cent to Wacca Wache Ma­rina. While the rivers are still high, “at least they are all fall­ing,” said Stalvey.

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