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Game Fish

Southern Flounder

SCIENTIFIC NAME : Paralichthys lethostigma

OTHER NAMES:
Doormat, hubcaps

RANGE:
Occurs statewide and live virtually the entire South Carolina Atlantic Coast.

HABITAT: Most of the year, this fish is found in relatively shallow areas, preferring soft bottom near such cover as bars or rubble. Also holes in grass beds and edges of channels.

DESCRIPTION:
Brown or olive background, liberally marked with both dark blotches and white spots; however, the prominent eye-like spots of the Gulf Flounder are missing.

SIZE:
This is the larger of South Carolina's two widely caught Flounders. It averages 2-4 pounds, but fish running 8-12 pounds are caught each year mostly in the fall around major inlets.

FOOD VALUE: One of the best. Southern flounder are marketed fresh and are considered excellent food fish. Prepare by broiling, baking, or frying. Baked flounder may be stuffed with crabmeat or scallop dressing

GAME QUALITIES:
Large fish get off some fair runs, but they give up after a few minutes of fight.

TACKLE AND BAITS:
For most Flounder fishing, ordinary light spinning or bait casting tackle is more than adequate. When targeting doormats around the inlets with live bait, the same types of gear, but with stouter rods and perhaps stronger lines should be used. Light saltwater boat tackle also does the job. Big Flounder are taken mostly with live fish as bait. Finger Mullet are favorites everywhere. Smaller fish and big ones at times will also hit live or dead shrimp and cut baits. While most fish-imitating lures will take Flounder, jigs are the most productive.

FISHING TECHNIQUES:
Casting; Drifting; Still Fishing.

FEEDING HABITS: Southern Flounders feed by partly burying themselves in the sand and then waiting to ambush their prey. The diet changes as the fish grow. Small Flounders feed on mysid and penaeid shrimps and other small crustaceans. Larger flounders eat blue crabs, penaeid shrimps, and fishes anchovies, mullets, menhaden, Atlantic Croaker, and Pinfish.

AGE AND GROWTH: Information on the Southern flounder's age and growth is sketchy, however, females appear to grow faster and live longer than males. Females years old will typically be 24 inches long.

Red Fish " Red Drum"

SCIENTIFIC NAME : Sciaenops ocellatus

OTHER NAMES: Redfish, Red Bass, Channel Bass, Drum, Spot tail Bass.

RANGE:
All South Carolina coasts.

HABITAT:
Most popular fishing areas are along shell bars and rocky or grassy shorelines and on shallow flats, where they are usually fished by sight. Reds also forage in the surf of outside beaches nearly everywhere on the Gulf Coast and along the upper half of the East Coast, especially in the fall. Adults move offshore to spawn and are sometimes encountered in open water in large schools. They roam into coastal rivers and creeks at any time of year, and in winter swarm into them, seeking warmer water.

DESCRIPTION:
Usually bronze or reddish with white underside, but sometimes quite pale all over. Prominent ringed spot or several spots at base of tail fin; occasionally, without the spot. Silhouette is similar to black drum and colors can sometimes be confusing in very large fish, but the redfish has no chin barbels and the black drum never has the tail spot.

SIZE: Caught from less than a pound to 10 or 12 pounds; 30-pounders are not rare, and the potential in South Carolina is about 60.

FOOD VALUE: Redfish up to around 10 pounds rank among the favorite fish of most anglers. Red portions of flesh do not have objectionable taste when fresh. Large Redfish are protected at this writing, and not the best of fare anyway.

GAME QUALITIES: Fine gamester. Strength, stamina and fairly long, bullish runs are its trademarks.

TACKLE AND BAITS:
All kinds of casting tackle, including fly, are successfully used on Redfish of all sizes. Surf rods and light-to-medium saltwater outfits are good for beach, bridge, pier and offshore fishing. Redfish are ravenous feeders that will take live baitfish, crabs and shrimp, and also dead or cut baits from the same sources. Live shrimp and minnows make the very best baits for shallow coastal fishing; live Pinfish, small Mullet or similar baitfish for angling in deeper water. Most productive artificial lures are weed less spoons, plastic-tail jigs and topwater plugs, but many swimming plugs also work. Large streamers and poppers do the job for fly fishermen.

FISHING TECHNIQUES: Casting; Drifting; Still Fishing.

FEEDING HABITS: The species uses its senses of sight and touch to feed on animals that live on the bottom. Crabs, shrimps, sand dollars, and fishes such as menhaden, mullet, pinfish, pigfish, searobin, lizardfish, spot, atlantic croaker, and flounder compose the bulk of the diet of large drum. Smaller individuals feed on copepods, amphipods, and tiny shrimps. Channel bass are often seen in a head-down position browsing and rooting the bottom in search of food.

AGE AND GROWTH: The red drum, or redfish, (AKA Channel Bass), is the second largest member of the drum family in the western Atlantic, reaching a maximum length of 5 feet and a weight of approximately 100 pounds. They can live up to 50 years.

Sheepshead

SCIENTIFIC NAME : Centropristis striata

OTHER NAMES: Convict Fish Bait-stealer

RANGE: All South Carolina salt waters.

HABITAT: Areas of rocky bottom, from far up coastal creeks and rivers, to well offshore. Loves dock and bridge pilings, artificial reefs and any other structure that wears barnacles and/or harbors crabs. Forages for crustaceans, at times, on shallow soft-bottom flats in the manner of Redfish or Bonefish.

DESCRIPTION:
Black vertical bands stand out against dull white, gray or yellowish background. The mouth is full of massive, protruding teeth that give the fish its name, and distinguish it from the juvenile Black Drum , the only fish with which it is likely to be confused. Spines of the dorsal and anal fins are heavy and sharp.

SIZE:
Common from less than a pound to 4 pounds. Fairly plentiful at 57 pounds. Fish approaching 10 pounds, and occasionally surpassing 10, are taken each year in South Carolina, especially from offshore wrecks and navigation markers in late winter and spring.

FOOD VALUE:
One of the best, thanks in great part to its shellfish diet.

GAME QUALITIES:
Not an aggressive strike; very tough on light tackle. Pulls hard and uses flat shape to advantage.

TACKLE AND BAITS: Light spinning and bait casting tackle are tops for sport, but rod tip should not be too soft, as the tough and toothy mouth makes it hard to set a hook. Best baits are fiddlers or other small crabs; cut pieces of blue crab; live or fresh-dead shrimp (threaded on the hook); pieces of oysters and clams. Sheepshead will readily hit slow-moving jigs tipped with these baits and, occasionally, will take the bare jig.

FISHING TECHNIQUES:
Still Fishing.

SIZE, AGE AND GROWTH: Although it reaches a maximum size of about 29.5 inches (76 cm) and 22 pounds (9.6 kg), adult sheepshead are most commonly about 1-8 pounds (.5-3.6 kg) and 14-18 inches (35 cm). Maximum known lifespan of the sheepshead is at least 20 years with maturity typically reached at 2 years of age.

FEEDING HABITS: The sheepshead is an omnivorous fish, feeding on invertebrates, small vertebrates and occasional plant material. Large juveniles and adults prey on blue crab, oysters, clams, crustaceans, and small fish including young Atlantic croakers (Micropogonias undulatus, Sciaenidae). The sheepshead uses its impressive dentition to crush heavily armored and shelled prey and to scrape barnacles from rocks and pilings. The diet of juveniles includes zooplankton, polychaetes, and chironomid (midges) larvae.

Spotted Seatrout

SCIENTIFIC NAME : Cynoscion nebulosus

OTHER NAMES:
Trout, Speckled Trout, Speck

RANGE: All South Carolina coasts.

HABITAT:
Spotted Seatrout can be caught in virtually any of South Carolina's inshore waters, from the outside surf to far up coastal rivers, and, at times, in fairly deep Gulf water. Most commonly caught from spring through fall on shallow grassy flats and in grass-lined channels and holes. During cold snaps, they run for up coastal rivers.

DESCRIPTION:
Streamlined shape; large mouth with prominent canine teeth; color gray or silvery with many prominent black spots on sides. Background may be quite dark, or gold, when fish are in back bays or streams.

SIZE:
Usually 1-2 pounds; common on both coasts to about four pounds. Largest fish, both in average size and maximum size, come from East Central region, where fish to 10 pounds are taken at times and where potential is to 15 pounds or more. Gulf Coast trout are considered large at 5-8 pounds, but can top 10.

FOOD VALUE:
being a member of the Drum family, these are considered to be quite tasty.The white flesh and excellent flavor make the spotted seatrout a highly esteemed fish for the table. The meat does spoil rapidly, and care should be taken to chill it at all times and to prepare as soon as possible. Trout may be fried, baked, or broiled or stuffed with crabmeat.

GAME QUALITIES:
Not exceedingly strong or active, but a hard striker on a variety of baits and quite sporty on light gear. Showy, surface-thrashing fighter but not a long runner. Sometimes jumps.

TACKLE AND BAITS:
Spinning, bait casting and fly tackle are all effective and sporting. Best natural baits are live shrimp, live baitfish and strips of cut Mullet or Pinfish. Most popular lures are bait-tail jigs, swimming plugs and topwater plugs. Poppers are productive fly rod lures over the flats; large streamers work in all waters.

FISHING TECHNIQUES:
Casting; Drifting; Still Fishing.

FEEDING HABITS: Spotted seatrout are voracious predators that feed on a variety of animals found near the bottom and at midwater. Fishes most often encountered in the diet include mullet, menhaden, Atlantic croaker, spot, anchovies, and silversides. The species also feeds on shrimps and crabs. Schools of Trout seem to be constantly searching for food. Adults form small schools, and with the incoming tide, move onto shoals to feed.

AGE AND GROWTH: Spotted seatrout may live as long as 10 years and weigh as much as 10 pounds. However, the average catch consists of fish ranging from 1 to 5 pounds, representatives of the first few age classes. Average length for a fish of 8 years is 30 inches.
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