Somewhere in the Murrells Inlet area local guides believe a state record-class spotted seatrout in the 12-pound range is swimming. It has not been caught so far this winter, but the way things are going it just might be. A number of very nice fish have been landed recently, including trout up to 9+ pounds, and Captain J of Fishful Thinking Guide Service (843-902-0356) reports that trout fishing is about as good as it gets. In addition to some very big fish, excellent numbers of specks are being caught in the creeks.
Captain J advises that the best time for trout fishing has been on the higher stages of the tide when water is covering the oyster bars – both on the high incoming and high outgoing. Mirrolures, ¼ ounce jigheads paired with a Saltwater Assassin “opening night” colored grub, and live shrimp under floats are all catching fish when fished over the oysters. Captain J has been working hard to catch his own shrimp at night, but some local stores have them.
Black Drum and Tautog: Good. Captain J reports that fishing for black drum has been strong around the jetties, and surprisingly high numbers of tautog have also been around. Tautog are usually more common further north where they are called “blackfish” and Captain J says they have teeth like a sheepshead. Both species are being caught on cut pieces of dead shrimp fished on the bottom on a Carolina rig with a #2 flounder hook, and Captain J says you need to be fishing right in the rocks. If you aren’t losing some rigs you aren’t fishing in the right places!
Redfish: Slow to fair. Captain J says that normally he would be catching a bunch of redfish at this time of year, and he is still getting a few at the tips of the Murrells Inlet jetties on live mullet. However, overall the bite all fall has been surprisingly slow and he is not quite sure why.
Some whiting and bluefish are still around in the surf, but flounder are mostly gone for the year. Action at the the nearshore reefs has been slow.