Matt Winter Column: Bite heats up, both inshore and offshore
Spring has sprung and the bite is on.
Wahoo and blackfin tuna remain thick offshore, fully grown black drum are spawning off the beaches and big trout are biting in and around Charleston Harbor.
Capt. Charlie Nickell of Tide Down, a 44-foot Ocean, put his charter on a mess of 50-plus-pound wahoo last week. The biggest (seen here), might have topped 80 or 90 pounds. They also landed one blackfin tuna and lost more to sharks.
“The fish are eating,” Nickell said. “The dolphin haven’t started coming through yet, but good numbers of blackfin tuna and wahoo have been caught.”
Nickell advises anglers to incorporate wire into their trolling rigs to guard against razor-toothed wahoo. And to catch notoriously boat-shy blackfin tuna, anglers should run lines further back than they might normally, at least 75 or more yards behind the boat, he said.
Nickell and the rest of the fleet expect the dolphin run to start sometime during the next two to three weeks. Marlin and sailfish are sure to follow this first push of dolphin, marking the start of the hard-core trolling season off Charleston.
Meanwhile, anglers sticking closer to shore are finding good action with black drum, speckled seatrout and sheepshead.
Joe Benton of the Charleston Angler said anglers have been catching good numbers of sheepshead at some nearshore reefs, with some bigger fish found inshore as well. One angler caught a sheepshead pushing 11 pounds near Folly Beach, he said.
Benton also said some charter captains recently discovered huge spawning schools of giant black drum at a nearshore reef. Captains J.R. Waits (Fish Call Charters) and Ben Floyd (Charleston Fish Finders) found the schools at the surface, and could even hear the big fish drumming, Benton said.
Though redfish seem to be hit or miss lately, anglers have been taking advantage of a strong trout bite.
“They’re big, big trout,” Benton said, with many of them caught in and around Charleston Harbor.
“I’ve heard of some around Castle Pinckney, some up the Cooper a little bit, and then some in the Ashley.”
Anglers seem to have the best luck using live shrimp fished under floats, he said.
Facebook-savvy anglers will get the chance to quiz a state expert on freshwater fishing from noon-1p.m. April 19 during the S.C. Department of Natural Resources’ ask-an-expert series.
During this session, Ross Self, chief of freshwater fisheries and a member of DNR Law Enforcement, will be online to field questions.
To participate, “like” DNR on Facebook. You can email questions beforehand to email@example.com or post questions on DNR’s Facebook wall during the talk. Use the comment feature under the expert’s post instead of starting a new post.
Paddle the state’s coast
The South Carolina section of the Southeast Coast Saltwater Paddling Trail extends 295 miles from the Savannah River at the Georgia border to the Little River on the North Carolina border.
Paddle the state’s coast
Points of interest, along with simple-to-copy latitude/longitude coordinates for the entire trail, are free to the public on a new series of DNR web pages at dnr.sc.gov/marine/saltpaddling.html.
This new resource gives paddlers a gameplan featuring every South Carolina coastal habitat type, from tidal waters, marshlands, and swamps to barrier islands, dunes and beaches.
Many cultural sites and places of interest along the way are accessible by kayak, including old forts, plantations, fishing villages, port cities, resorts and many protected wildlife areas.
DNR is asking outdoorsmen and -women to report sightings of the swallow-tailed kite, an endangered species in South Carolina.
Report sightings this spring and summer to The Avian Conservation Center and The Center for Birds of Prey.
Find a report form at thecenterforbirdsofprey.org/swallowtail-kite.php or call the center at (843) 971-7474. Find out more about the kite at dnr.sc.gov/cwcs/pdf/Swallowtailedkite.pdf.
The kite is easily identified by its narrow, 4-foot wingspan, black-and-white color scheme and long, forked outer tail feathers.
Between 120 and 170 breeding pairs remain in South Carolina, primarily in large floodplain forests along the lower Great Pee Dee, Santee, Edisto and Savannah rivers and in the Francis Marion National Forest.
Reach Matt Winter, manager of niche content and design and editor of Tideline magazine, at (843) 937-5568 or firstname.lastname@example.org