Chillier waters good for near-shore reefs
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.
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.
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.
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.