Little River specks are on the feed

Little River specks
Big speckled trout have plenty of places to hunt for bait in the estuaries around Little River, S.C.

State-line waters fill up with trout as winter reaches its peak

Winter has fully set in across the Carolinas, with typically cool days and some freezing nightly temperatures. Yet the Carolinas are also known for a few 70-degree days mixed in throughout the winter, and that makes a day on the water more than just appealing. Anglers after Little River specks are in luck, as the winter speckled trout fishing can be off the charts.

Brandon Huskins of Any Tide Fishing Charters in North Myrtle Beach, S.C., covets the waters along the North Carolina/South Carolina border in the winter.

“Trout fishing can be hot during the winter months,” said Huskins (843-877-7068). “We have both some big numbers of fish and some real gators in our waters in February.”

Huskins fishes the inshore waters in and around the state line. He finds trout in schools in both deep and shallow regions of the Little River area.

“Fish typically push into deep pockets when the water gets real chilly — especially on high tide. But I also catch some big fish in 3 feet or less along sunny banks with oysters,” he said.

Huskins fishes a variety of habitats this time of year, but fish will typically be holding in an ambush position, whether in shallow or deep locales.

“I look for seams and rips with fast-moving water close to slower-moving water near oyster or grassy points,” he said. “The trout stay in the slow section and wait for the bait to get washed by.”

Bait is less plentiful this time of year, but trout still have to eat

Bait in the winter isn’t as plentiful as during warmer seasons. But trout, redfish and a few other predators still make a living on the scattered forage resources in inshore waters. Mullet, mud minnows and possibly a few schools of glass minnows will be available in these estuaries. So baitfish imitations are a primary lure choice.

Huskins utilizes one of three basic lures in winter. Primarily, he will use a Z-Man Trout Trick rigged on a ¼-ounce jighead in most places he fishes.

“I will bounce these Trout Tricks methodically on the bottom. Trout will eat these lures in both shallow and deep places in the winter,” he said.

Second, Huskins will tie on a large MirrOlure when he is concentrating on big trout.

“If you want to find big, 6- to 9-pound trout, throw big mullet-imitation lures. When trout grow to large adults, their staple diet is big mullet, and big MirrOlures and Zara Spooks are ideal lure choices,” he said.

Last, Huskins will fish an artificial shrimp under a popping cork. Even though shrimp are scarce this time of year, speckled trout have a special taste for these decapod crustaceans.

The air and water may be cold this time of year. But it is one of the best times of the year to get out on the water.

“We have fewer people on the water this time of year, but it is one of my favorite times to fish,” he said.

About Jeff Burleson 1311 Articles
Jeff Burleson is a native of Lumberton, N.C., who lives in Myrtle Beach, S.C. He graduated from N.C. State University with a degree in fisheries and wildlife sciences and is a certified biologist and professional forester for Southern Palmetto Environmental Consulting.

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