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3/15/01 09:42 PM
SC Weekly Shallow Saltwater Report [Post#: 137 ] Reply to this post

South Carolina Weekly Shallow Saltwater Fishing Report
Week of 03-04-01 through 03-10-01

Well, March and old man winter have teamed up against us again. The cold wind and weather have managed to lower the water temperature back down to the upper 40's again. That makes almost a 10 degree drop in a week. With that dramatic change in temperature, it's not unusual to find fish that just won't feed. We ran three trips this week and two were OK and the last one, ran on Saturday during all the wind, was a complete bust. The first two trips, I could show many fish to the clients. And after many casts, they could catch some of them. One day we had 6 reds, and the next we had 7. The last day, we saw none, and caught none. The water was at 48 degrees and the wind was around 20 from the NW. Not ideal conditions, but I still believe that if the water were warmer, there would be more feeding going on. All these fish were caught on soft jigs and the reason we used them was in order to fish the lure as slow as possible.

Following is an excerpt from an e-mail I recently got from one of our top marine biologists, Dr. Charles Wenner. He says "Your observations go hand in hand with our data both from the numbers of fish caught as well as the tagging data. We have seen a steady downward trend in the number of red drum caught per trammel net set from 1991 through 2000. In 1991 "we averaged about 8 fish per net set and now we average about 2 fish per set." He says these sets are made in the same areas we normally fish, and we regularly see them working these areas. He goes on to explain that they documented a good hatch of reds in 1994 which showed up in the big catches made in 1995, but, he said, "Since then, it has been straight down hill." His next statement is one that really bothers me because he makes it very clear that the problem is real and he said, "I hope we can do something before it's too late because I am very worried about their abundance." Now any time I hear a guy like Dr. Wenner say he is "very worried" about the problem, I take that as a loud, clear signal that we had better do something, and I mean now, not in the near future! He goes on to say that their data covers nearly 10 years of catch history, and 4,575 net sets. And, "What you are seeing in your business is the same we are seeing in ours. With the lousy year classes and the relatively strong harvests when you have good year classes would suggest that we are not letting enough survive to reproduce." The estimated harvest of red drum is down also. According to their surveys made at landings in the area, the estimated catch of reds per year is as follows:
in 1991 = 125,800 in 1992 = 112,500 in 1993 = 119,100 in 1994 = 129500
in 1995 = 202400 in 1996 = 130,600 in 1997 = 129,000 in 1998 = 46,500
and in 1999 = only 44,000 were caught by recreational anglers. Look closely at the ‘98 and ‘99 year amounts and you will see what he means when he says he is "very worried." I am too!

Thanks, Gene Dickson
Delta Guide Service
Georgetown, SC 1-843-546-3645

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