• Volume 7 Number 3 - March 2012

    Features

    Although there may be a grey cloud or two on the horizon, anglers should finish this coming saltwater season with big smiles on their faces.

    South Carolina is blessed with an abundance of excellent saltwater habitat, even if it doesn’t have as extensive a coastline as some states.

    The state’s fisheries are among the best in the Southeast, in part because the S.C. Department of Natural Resources has shown tremendous forethought in how some species are managed and protected.

    But things aren’t always hunky dory every year, for every fish species. At least one popular bluewater species, the yellowfin tuna, has been missing in action for several years. A couple of popular inshore species, speckled trout and flounder, have seen better times, but for different reasons.

    So when you get ready to head to the coast this year, it’s good to know what species you’ll be better served targeting. Here is an overview of what’s up:

    Early season Lowcountry gobblers often require special attention from hunters because they’re in the peak of breeding period.

    Getting a 2-week jump-start on turkey season in South Carolina’s Lowcountry is certainly a bonus, but it does come with some issues that hunters must overcome.

    Charles Ruth, the deer and turkey project supervisor for the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, said in addition to the typical wily ways of these gobblers, his data indicates that the spring mating season is already in full swing when the early season opens.

    March brings a host of fine opportunities on Lake Marion, especially on the channel side on the lower end of the massive Santee Cooper reservoir.

    Spring and Santee Cooper. If that’s not a peanut butter-and-jelly sort of a combination, what could ever earn such a dubbing? The warming temperatures and lengthening days that come with March prompt fish of several species to move shallower, both to feed and in preparation for the spawn. As the fish begin straying shallow, the fishermen enjoy the bounties.

    Rebounding from a loss of habitat in years past, shellcrackers are on their way to becoming this lake’s top panfish.

    What do striped bass and shellcrackers have in common?
    At first blush, very little, until you hear guide Brad Taylor talk about Lake Murray.

    “If you’ve ever been cut-bait fishing for stripers on Lake Murray, then you already know how to fish for shellcrackers,” said Taylor.

    Let the weather point you in the direction of some great prespawn bass fishing on Lake Wateree.

    The weather this month is tough to predict, but for catching largemouth bass on Lake Wateree, March is a sure thing, according to Ridgeway’s Brett Collins. The fish are definitely willing participants; knowing what to offer them — and where to make those offerings — is the key.

    It may be a long way to the blue water, but offshore fishing out of the Hilton Head/Beaufort area offers an awful lot in March — and nearshore action is plenty good, too.

    The first hints of spring start to show this month, and saltwater fishermen are only too ready to big winter good-bye. Luckily, some of the best nearshore and offshore fishing arrivse at a time when anglers are most eager.