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Capt. Mark Dickson (Shallow Minded Inshore Charters, 843-458-3055) said speckled trout action would be heating up.
“We will mostly be catching speckled trout,” he said. “It’s mainly weather-driven fishing. But, if the weather is nice, the fishing will be good.”
Trout will bite well at theCochinaHarborarea and at the littleRiverSwingBridge. Good lures included the Voodoo Shrimp, D.O.A. Shrimp and Gulp Swimming Mullet on a 1/8-ounce jig head.
Redfish will school up in the shallows. But anglers will need a poling skiff to get back to the fish that head far into the headwaters of the creeks. Anglers should try sight fishing with a gold spoon fly, Copperhead Fly or red and white Clouser minnow cast with fly tackle or a Gulp Shrimp New Penny Shrimp on a 1/8-ounce jig head or swimming mullet cast on baitcasting or spinning gear. By March, mud minnows will be in the backwaters and these great baitfish can be captured in cast nets. In late March, soft-shell crabs tied inside bags cut from panty hose will work as redfish bait.
Black drum will bite shrimp fished on the bottom at theSunsetBeachBridgeand at the Little River Inlet jetties. Sheepshead will bite at the Jim Caudle and General Sherman reefs, where clams will be the best baits. Any reef within seven miles of the beach and some of the unmarked wrecks in less than 90 feet of water will also hold sheepshead.
Charity Rollins (Apache Pier,Myrtle Beach, 843-497-6486) said anglers should catch a variety of finfish, but whiting will offer the best action.
“We catch whiting all year round,” she said. “But they are our most dependable fish when the weather is cold.”
Along with the whiting, croakers may stick around through into the colder months, but will not bite as dependably as the whiting. Croakers are usually caught as part of a mixed bag in coolers filled with whiting. A few spots may also be around.
As January’s chill gives way to warmer water temperatures, other species migrate back to the area. Black drum and red drum are among the first game fish to return to the pier. The catches of both drum species pick up well during the first warm spells in March.
Speckled trout may bite off and on through the winter. In February the bite picks up and by the end of March, a lot more specks will be pecking.
The best baits for all species include shrimp, cut mullet and sand fleas. All of these baits are available at the pier house.
Leo Vereen (Springmaid Pier,Myrtle Beach, 843-315-7156) said fishing will be slow, but on good weather days, catching a few fish for supper was still possible.
In January and February, we will see mostly croakers and whiting,” he said. “In March, there will be a few speckled trout and the black drum bite will be good.”
By late March, the bluefish will start moving in and the whiting bite turns on, with the biggest bull whiting moving through in large schools.
The best bait is shrimp fished on bottom rigs. But bucktail jigs tipped with shrimp will work best for speckled trout.
Sheepshead fishing will be good at the near shore reefs. Fiddler crabs will be the best baits for sheepshead.
At the inlet, anglers should catch black drum using fiddler crabs and shrimp as bait.
Back in the creeks, red drum and speckled trout will bite slowly in January and February, but more strongly as the weather warms up. Good places to catch them areOak Creekand Marlin Quay Marina.
The best ways to catch red drum and speckled trout are by trolling or casting with MirrOlures and twisty-tailed grubs on jig heads. The channel edges are the best places. Any place with hard structure such as jetties, seawalls, marina basins and bridges should hold some fish.
On calm days, anglers can head offshore to catch king mackerel, which will strike spoons, live baits and frozen baits. Anglers should find water temperatures in the upper 60s or more and try to located baitfish schools. The best water temperatures can be found by searching online for temperature charts.
Capt. Mike McDonald (Gul-R-Boy Guide Service, 843-546-3625) said the speckled trout fishing will be spotty but the spot-tail bite will be spot-on.
“The redfish will be biting well in water that is 18 inches or less in depth,” he said. “But the specks will be in water that is seven to 12 feet deep. Black drum will be biting on the oyster reefs at the inside creeks.”
The best bait for catching red and black drum is shrimp. Speckled trout are suckers for soft plastics and MirrOlures, with the 52M sinking series a good bet for trout fishing at the Winyah jetties.
“When it is cold, look for the shallow flats where redfish and speckled trout can get into the water that is a little bit warmer,” he said. “You want to find them before casting and you might find some big schools. But, catching more than one to three fish will spook them when they are on a flat. The worst thing you can do is run through them with a flats boat because that will ruin your future fishing.”
McDonald instead locates a school, then backs off to the nearest deep hole and waits for the falling tide to bring the fish to him.
“They have to go to the holes when the tide falls and then you can catch more fish and release them and it won’t spook them,” he said. “Another thing to look for in those deeper places in the creeks is a school of big mullet. The mullet stir up small prey like shrimp and minnows and the reds hover on top of them, waiting for the easy meal. When a redfish rushes in, the mullet spook up. I’ve seen red dots on the bellies of red drum made from the dorsal spines of mullet. I even saw a mullet spine sticking in the belly of a red drum.”