AHQ INSIDER North Grand Strand (SC) Fall 2019 Fishing Report – Updated November 20 Reviewed by Momizat on . -- November 20 Inshore surface water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand have dropped into the lower 60s.  The water is still murky. This is the a -- November 20 Inshore surface water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand have dropped into the lower 60s.  The water is still murky. This is the a Rating: 0
You Are Here: Home » Featured » AHQ INSIDER North Grand Strand (SC) Fall 2019 Fishing Report – Updated November 20

AHQ INSIDER North Grand Strand (SC) Fall 2019 Fishing Report – Updated November 20

November 20

Inshore surface water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand have dropped into the lower 60s.  The water is still murky.

This is the about the best time of the year to fish in the Little River area, and Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that it’s a no-brainer to target trout right now.  Last year at this time they were catching a bunch of fish in the 13-inch range, while this year the average size is an impressive 18 inches with plenty of fish in the 20-25 inch range (almost always released).  There is a really good population of fish around.

Captain Smiley’s boats are mainly targeting the ICW, but they are also catching fish in the shallow creeks.  Fish are off ledges, in deeper holes, and around oyster beds beside grass; they are as shallow as 2 feet and down to about 10-12.  Tide does not seem to matter as long as there is moving water in either direction.  Live shrimp, DOA Shrimp, Vudu Shrimp, and Trout Tricks are all working.

A gator trout caught this week with Captain Smiley Fishing Charters

There are also redfish and black drum around in the same areas, although most of the redfish have been small in the 15-18 inch range.  There are not a lot of 20-27 inch fish.  The black drum are mainly in the 18-20 inch range, and they will eat live or cut shrimp.  The reds will eat anything, and some of the bigger trout are also being caught on minnows.

They are still picking up some short flounder.

Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that they are still having some nice black drum caught off the pier as well as good numbers of whiting and croaker.

October 31

Inshore surface water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand still range from the mid-70s on up.  With water temperatures still very warm the water has not yet cleared, and there are prolific mullet around as well as plenty of shrimp if you know where to look.

Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that even with persistent warm temperatures a strong fall bite is in place, but just in time for his 3rd Annual Inshore Slam and Festival temperatures are about to drop.  This should kick-start an even better fall bite as inshore species realize that they need to feed up as the days are numbered before the bait leaves the creeks.  With flounder harvest banned in North Carolina anglers will be competing for the best aggregate weight of trout and redfish, with over $3,000.00 on the line for first place.  The event will take place out of Cricket Cove Marina, and proceeds will benefit the Humane Society.  Sportsman’s Choice Marina is the headline sponsor.

The trout bite has really picked up, and the best fishing is taking place on the low to rising tide around ledges and drops.  On higher tides the fish are doing well around grass and oyster beds.  Live shrimp, Zman baits, and Vudu Shrimp have all been working.

Trout have also been feeding well at the jetties, mostly on live shrimp floated under a cork around the rocks.

There is good action for redfish around ambush points, oysters and docks, and fish are also being caught around the same drops where the trout are feeding.  It is hard to find an area that only has one species right now, and reds are also out at the jetties.

For redfish cut mullet, cut shrimp and artificial lures are all working.

Bull red drum can still be found, but the bite is not as good as it was a few weeks ago.

A nice redfish caught this week with Captain Smiley Fishing Charters

A nice redfish caught this week with Captain Smiley Fishing Charters

Black drum are in the same areas as the reds, although they are less likely to shy away from a strong current.  Docks, ledges and rocky bottoms all hold black drum with cut shrimp the best bait right now.

A few flounder are still being picked up.

Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that with water temperatures still a very warm 74 degrees fishing has been good.  This past weekend a number of king mackerel were caught, and they have also had Spanish mackerel andbluefish caught off the pier.  Bull red drum over the slot have also been released, as well as black drum including some legal fish.  There have also been pompano, whiting, and a few spots caught.  With water temperatures still very warm this cold front should not push the fish out because water temperatures have so far to go before fish leave.

October 17

Inshore surface water temperatures in the morning on the north end of the Grand Strand are still in the mid-70s.  There are finger mullet around but off the beaches menhaden are the most prolific baitfish.

Fall fishing is good on the north end of the Grand Strand, but Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) predicts that in the next week or two it will approach its peak and we will be into some of the best fishing of the year.

Bull red drum are still being caught in the inlet on live, fresh cut or even frozen menhaden, and they will also eat mullet or most any other live or fresh cut bait.  The incoming tide has been the best time to target them, and high slack tide has also been good.

There are lots of fish at the jetties, and while they can be caught right by the rocks the better way to catch (and land) them is to fish in cleaner holes out from the rocks with 25-30 feet of water.  The other way to catch them is to run the beaches and fish around menhaden balls.

With water temperatures still warm blacktip and bull sharks are still thick, and so Captain Smiley suggests a big 6/0 circle hook and beefy tackle so that you can get the fish in quickly.  No one wants to see a bull red drum struggling on the end of a line become shark bait.

Smaller reds can also be caught casting live mullet or live shrimp on a split shot rig or under a float into the jetty rocks, and there have also been plenty of 12-17 inch redfish caught inshore around grass and oyster beds.  Cut shrimp, live shrimp, finger mullet and Gulp! baits are all working for inshore reds.  There are still some big redfish inshore but the 12-17 inch range has been most prolific.

A nice inshore redfish caught with Captain Smiley Fishing Charters

A nice inshore redfish caught with Captain Smiley Fishing Charters

The trout bite is improving but it’s still not as good as it should get.  Right now trout are being caught on live shrimp fished along inshore drops and oyster beds in areas with moving current.  They are also being caught with shrimp fished on a split shot rig at the jetties.

There has been good flounder fishing around the jetties with mullet fished around the rocks.  Nearshore reefs like the Jim Caudle Reef have also had some nice ones.

Black drum fishing is getting better with fresh cut shrimp.  The Tillman Docks are still holding fish and a Carolina rig fished on the bottom in 15-20 feet of water on moving tides continues to work.  There are also plenty of good fish being caught around ledges and docks in the IntraCoastal.

Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that Spanish mackerel, bluefish, pompano, whiting, and a few spots have been caught off the pier.  There have also been some large red drum out of the slot caught.

September 30

Inshore surface water temperatures in the morning on the north end of the Grand Strand are in the low 80s.  There are still massive schools of finger mullet in the IntraCoastal Waterway and its tributaries.

Bull red drum remain about the most exciting game in town on the north end of the Grand Strand, and Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that more and more reds are in the inlet and off the beaches.

There are lots of fish at the jetties, and while they can be caught right by the rocks the better way to catch (and land) them is to fish in cleaner holes out from the rocks with 25-30 feet of water.  The other way to catch them is to run the beaches and fish around menhaden balls.  Since the fish are around menhaden they really only want to eat pogies right now.

In addition to the fishermen sharks have realized that the bull reds are thick, and so Captain Smiley suggests a big 6/0 circle hook and beefy tackle so that you can get the fish in quickly.  No one wants to see a bull red drum struggling on the end of a line become shark bait.

There have also been some really big reds inshore, and this week Captain Smiley’s boat landed a 42-inch fish on a topwater plug! There are also plenty of redfish that run from under 15 inches to about 28, and these fish are very common.  They can be caught on mullet fished on a ¼ ounce jighead, and they are around grass and oyster beds on the outgoing tide.

An inshore brute caught with Captain Smiley

An inshore brute caught with Captain Smiley

Small trout have started to get plentiful, although in the next few weeks the bite should get much better for big fish.  Right now trout are being caught on live shrimp fished along drops inshore in areas with moving current, and they are also being caught with shrimp fished on a split shot rig at the jetties.

The flounder fishery will remain closed to harvest in North Carolina for the foreseeable future, but Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that south of the border there is still very strong flounder fishing.  The key to catching fish is still fishing in places where there is an abundance of mullet and current, be that on the flats, around grass, etc.  Tide does not seem to make a huge different as long as mullet and current are present.  Both finger mullet and Gulp! baits are working well.

There is also still good black drum fishing with fresh cut shrimp.  The jetties are improving for black drum, and at the Tillman Docks fishing on the bottom with a Carolina rig in 15-20 feet of water on moving tides is still working.  There also continue to be good catches in Bonaparte Creek in 5-10 feet of water.

Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that they have had excellent king mackerel fishing off-and-on for the last ten days.  As of this afternoon 4 fish had been caught today and 8 yesterday!  Beyond the kings standard fare including red drum, black drum, whiting, pompano, and bluefish have been caught this week.

September 20

Inshore surface water temperatures in the morning on the north end of the Grand Strand are around 81 degrees.  There are still massive schools of finger mullet in the IntraCoastal Waterway and its tributaries, but it remains a little hard to find shrimp.

The biggest news this week is that the bull red drum have started biting, and Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that they are catching 35-40 plus inch fish.  There are basically two ways you can catch them.  There are lots of fish at the jetties, and while they can be caught right by the rocks the better way to catch (and land) them is to fish in cleaner holes out from the rocks with 25-30 feet of water.  The other way to catch them is to run the beaches and fish around menhaden balls.  Since the fish are around menhaden they really only want to eat pogies right now.

A good one caught with Captain Smiley this week

A good one caught with Captain Smiley this week

Inshore fishing remains excellent, and while the flounder fishery is still closed to harvest in North Carolina on both sides of the border there is still very strong flounder fishing.  The key to catching fish is still fishing in places where there is an abundance of mullet and current, be that on the flats, around grass, etc.  Tide does not seem to make a huge different as long as mullet and current are present. Both finger mullet and Gulp! baits are working well.

Besides the bulls, inside the creeks there are plenty of redfish that run from under 15 inches to about 28 inches, and these fish are very plentiful.  They can be caught on mullet fished on a ¼ ounce jighead, and they are around grass and oyster beds on the outgoing tide.

There is also still good black drum fishing with fresh cut shrimp.  At the Tillman docks fishing on the bottom with a Carolina rig in 15-20 feet of water on moving tides is still working.  There also continue to be good catches in Bonaparte Creek in 5-10 feet of water.

Trout action is still not as good as it will be soon, but some fish can be caught at the jetties on the falling tide.  Live shrimp fished on a split shot rig or under a floating cork are the best bait.

Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that they have had good catches of red drum, black drum, whiting, pompano, and bluefish.  Most of the reds are below the slot but a few are keepers.  When there is some clear water Spanish mackerel are around.

September 13

Inshore surface water temperatures in the morning on the north end of the Grand Strand are around 83 degrees.  There are massive schools of finger mullet in the IntraCoastal Waterway and its tributaries, but it is a little hard to find shrimp.

The flounder fishery is closed to harvest in North Carolina, but on both sides of the border Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that there is still excellent flounder fishing.  Yesterday his boat caught a fish that was almost 6 pounds as well as some 3-pounders.  The key to catching fish is still fishing in places where there is an abundance of mullet and current, be that on the flats, around grass, etc.  Tide does not seem to make a huge different as long as mullet and current are present.  Both finger mullet and Gulp! baits are working well.

Another beauty caught with Captain Smiley

Another beauty caught with Captain Smiley

The redfish population seems to be in excellent shape, with a good number of fish and a broad range of sizes being caught.  Inside the creeks there is one group of fish that runs from under 15 inches to about 28 inches, and these fish are very plentiful.  They can be caught on mullet fished on a ¼ ounce jighead, and they are around grass and oyster beds on the outgoing tide.

There is a second, bigger group of fish in the 25-35 inch range that can be caught out at the jetties on cut bait or live mullet.  Again, these fish are biting best on the outgoing tide.

There has also been some good black drum fishing with fresh cut shrimp.  At the Tillman docks fishing on the bottom with a Carolina rig in 15-20 feet of water on moving tides has been working.  There have also been good catches in Bonaparte Creek in 5-10 feet of water.

Trout action is not as good as it will be soon, but some fish can be caught at the jetties on the falling tide.  Live shrimp fished on a split shot rig or under a floating cork are the best bait.

Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that they have had good catches of whiting, pompano, and black drum.  There are some small red drum and some in the slot being caught, as well as Spanish mackerel.  A few small bluefish are around.

August 29

Inshore surface water temperatures in the morning on the north end of the Grand Strand are around 84-85 degrees.  There are massive schools of finger mullet in the IntraCoastal Waterway and its tributaries, and bait-sized shrimp are also abundant.

Even though they are about to close down the harvest of flounder in North Carolina, Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that the flounder fishing has actually been really good along the north end of the Grand Strand.  A couple of miles offshore at the Caudle Reef they have been catching them well, but inshore along the ICW they have also been finding plenty of nice keepers.  The key to catching fish seems to be fishing in places where there is an abundance of mullet and current, be that on the flats, around grass, etc.  Tide does not seem to make a huge different as long as mullet and current are present. Both finger mullet and Gulp! baits are working well.

A big flounder caught this week with Captain Smiley

A big flounder caught this week with Captain Smiley

Fishing for redfish has also been really good, and out at the jetties as well as in the backwaters they are catching plenty of fish on the right tides.  On lower stages of the tide fish can be seen chasing mullet and gorging on them.  Big reds in the 30 plus inch range are also starting to show up at the jetties and they will take cut bait or live mullet.

There has also been some good trout fishing at the jetties, and the best time to catch the fish has been on the falling tide.  Live shrimp fished on a split shot rig or under a floating cork are the best bait.

Some good Spanish mackerel are also being caught out at the jetties free-lining live mullet or throwing topwater plugs like Mirrolures or Zara Spooks.

In the Fort Randall area black drum fishing has been good fishing with shrimp on the bottom on a Carolina rig in 15-25 feet of water.  Moving tides have been best.

August 1

Inshore surface water temperatures in the morning on the north end of the Grand Strand are around 84 degrees.  There are massive schools of finger mullet in the IntraCoastal Waterway and its tributaries, and bait-sized shrimp are also abundant.

The cool snap has really helped the fishing on the north end of the Grand Strand, and Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that a variety of species have been feeding well this week.  Catches of redfish have been really good in shallow water on the low outgoing tide, and with the ICW so thick with finger mullet you can see them busting bait on the banks.  Live mullet will work but cut mullet offer something different, and topwater plugs and Gulp! jerk shad will also catch fish.

A nice red caught this week with Captain Smiley

A nice red caught this week with Captain Smiley

Flounder fishing has also been strong, with fish against the banks in the same areas as the redfish but also being caught in deeper holes on lower tides.  In addition to live mullet Jerk Shad, Gulp! Shrimp and Gulp Swimming Minnows are also working.

Early in the morning there has been a good topwater bite for trout, and Zara Spooks and Mirrolure Top Pups are both catching fish.  However, the go-to bait has been live shrimp under a popping cork which are catching excellent numbers in the right spots.  Ledges and drops in 3-7 feet of water when there is current moving have been good.

Trout can also be caught at the Little River jetties floating shrimp under a cork along the rocks, but probably the best way to catch fish is on a split shot rig with a #4 hook baited with a live shrimp.  You can work this rig around the rocks without getting hung up as much as you would with a heavier weight.

Black drum are also eating live or cut shrimp fished on the bottom, and if you can hook them you will get the occasional sheepsheadLadyfish and sharks are also around at the jetties.

Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that with clear water, good oxygen levels and temperatures of about 84 degrees the bite has been strong recently.  They are catching good numbers of keeper-sized flounder, trout, and Spanish mackerel.  On the bottom there have been catches of whiting, croaker, small spadefish and some black drum.  Spanish have been abundant, but the last king mackerel was caught last Friday.

Nearshore, just outside the inlet Captain Smiley advises that you can catch lots of Spanish mackerel trolling a #1 planer or a mackerel tree with a 00 Clarks Spoons.

July 18

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand are in the mid-80s.  The water is unusually clear on the incoming tide as there has not been much wind in the last few days.

Even though it’s the heat of summer there has been some good fishing on the north end of the Grand Strand, and Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that trout are feeding particularly well.  The best bite has been out at the Little River Inlet jetties on the bottom of the falling tide and at the top of the rising tide, and live shrimp suspended under a floating cork and drifted around the rocks have been working well.

Inside the creeks there have also been some trout caught on the outgoing tide with shrimp. The best action has been around ledges and oyster beds in 5-8 feet of water.

A nice inshore trout caught this week with Captain Smiley

A nice inshore trout caught this week with Captain Smiley

Some redfish have also been mixed in with the trout at the jetties, but the best place to target redfish has been along the IntraCoastal Waterway fishing with cut mullet, menhaden or even bluefish.  Fish are little deeper in about 12 feet of water, and the outgoing tide has been most productive.  There have also been some small black drumcaught in the same areas on shrimp.

Flounder fishing has been pretty good, and drifting the bottom back in the inlets with live finger mullet has been working.  The best fishing has been on the rising tide.

A lot of Atlantic sharpnose sharks are around.

Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that a lot of whiting, some black drum, and a few flounder are being caught.  It has been since last month that any king mackerel were landed.

June 27

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand are 83 degrees.  Bait-sized shrimp and finger mullet are still a little hard to find.

On days when inshore fishing is a little tougher the Little River jetties are a good place to head, and Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that you can catch keeper-sized trout fishing live shrimp under a slip bobber around the rocks.  The outgoing tide with some current is the best time to target them, but they will bite when there is water moving in either direction.  There are also some redfish around the jetties, and if you really want to get your line pulled there is some good shark fishing in 25-30 feet of water off the rocks with cut menhaden on the bottom.

On the inside fishing the Intracoastal ledges with a popping cork and live shrimp for trout is still productive, and there are some small black drum in the same areas.

Even though it has not been a consistent year for flounder in Little River, there are still some big ones around.  Captain Smiley caught a beautiful 6-pound doormat to win a recent inshore tournament, and he has discovered that fishing big baits seems to generate bigger bites.  His big fish was caught on the largest size Gulp swimming minnow on a 3/8 ounce jighead. Fish are around grass and oyster beds.

Captain Smiley with the winning fish

Captain Smiley with the winning fish

Redfish can still be caught soaking cut mullet in the grass around high tide, and there have been some big fish inshore.

Bluefish and ladyfis hare also still being caught inshore.

Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that it has been a phenomenal week for king mackerel, and one day they had 9 caught in the clear water!  It looks like the Caribbean right now.  Spanish mackerel, whiting and a few bluefish have also been caught recently.

June 20

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand are 82-83 degrees.

The Little River jetties continue to produce, and Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that fishing live shrimp on a slip bobber or a split shot rig has been working well for some nice trout.  The tide does not make a huge difference, as long as there is moving water in either direction around the rocks.

On the inside fishing the Intracoastal ledges with a popping cork and live shrimp has also been productive, and just yesterday they caught a 5-pound fish this way.  The jetties seem to have more consistently keeper-sized fish, while inside the inlet there are a mix of big and small ones.

A good catch at the jetties with Captain Smiley

A good catch at the jetties with Captain Smiley

Redfish can also be caught out at the jetties, and they are also catching some reds inside the creeks.  Soaking cut mullet in the grass around high tide has been picking up some good fish.

Even though this year has been a little down so far for flounder around Little River, they have been catching some keeper-sized fish on live finger mullet, mud minnows, Gulp! swimming minnows and molting shrimp.  The best time to fish has been the switch between the incoming and outgoing tide from an hour before high tide to the first hour or two of the ebb.  Fish have been around grass and oyster beds.

There have also been lots of small black drum caught on live or fresh cut shrimp around oyster beds and docks off the Intracoastal.

Bluefish and ladyfish are also being caught inshore.

Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that whiting, pompano, small Spanish mackerel, black drum, sheepshead and a few bluefish have been caught recently.  No king mackerel have showed up yet.

May 23

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand are in the mid- to upper 70s, and the water is very clear – especially on the incoming tide.

As temperatures have gotten consistently warm the action has really improved, and Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that for about the last week fishing has been pretty outstanding.

Small shrimp are abundant and can be easily cast-netted, and the best place to fish them has been at the jetties.  Rigging the shrimp on a split shot rig with a size 4 hook and casting into the rocks they have been catching an awesome mixed bag of species, including redfish, black drum, trout, bluefish and even Spanish mackerel.

In the Intracoastal they are also catching some really nice trout, like the 5-pounder pictured below, on topwater plugs like Spooks and Mirrolures fished over shallow water first thing.  You will also pick up bluefish up to about 20 inches the same way.  After the sun gets up a little then fishing the ledges with shrimp has been effective for trout.

An early morning 5-pounder caught this week with Captain Smiley

An early morning 5-pounder caught this week with Captain Smiley

Besides at the jetties, fishing for reds in grass flats at higher tides has been effective.  Find small open spots in the thick stuff, and soak cut chunks of mullet.  Just like it would for a catfish, the smell will bring the fish in.

Smaller black drum are also biting well around docks in the Intracoastal.

While they are still not seeing the numbers of flounder they would like, live mud minnows, Gulp! jerk shad and shrimp in new penny color are also picking up some flatfish.

Small striper are usually around in the ICW and they are being caught right now.

Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that whiting and croaker are both being caught off the pier, and there have also been Spanish up to 17 plus inches caught today.  A nice 27-inch black drum was caught recently, but kings and flounder have been absent of late.

On pretty days a fantastic cobia bite has just developed, and from 6-10 miles out at the nearshore reefs the fishing has been very strong.  One of Captain Smiley’s boats hooked 15 cobia and landed 10 on Tuesday!  They are using Sabiki rigs to jig up small reef baitfish like pinfish.  Spadefish are also around by the thousands but they have been difficult to get to bite so far.

May 9

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand are around 71-72 degrees.

Flounder fishing has been good drifting Carolina rigs around the tide cycle in Hog Inlet and the Cherry Grove area, but this week Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that fish have also started to show up in the Little River area. They can be caught casting ¼ ounce jigheads with live minnows or Gulp! baits into moving water.  Deep holes in the creeks and drop offs have been the best place to fish, and the best bite has been on the falling tide.

They are also some catching redfish in the 15-27 inch range in 2-5 foot potholes in the creeks.  Three hours either side of low tide when the water is out of the grass has been the best time, and the fish really seem to want blue crabs or mud minnows on a ¼ ounce jighead.

On higher stages of the tide you have to fish the grass, and if you can find a flat area with sparser grass or a clean bottom then anchoring cut mullet or crab and waiting is a good pattern.

This party got into the low tide redfish with Captain Smiley this week

This party got into the low tide redfish with Captain Smiley this week

Bluefish are around and in the same low tide holes as the reds.

Black drum can be caught around docks on fresh cut shrimp throughout the tide cycle, but the outgoing has been best.

The trout bite remains slowed down from its peak, but they are catching some undersized fish again.

Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that last weekend they had several king mackerel in the 21-36 pound range caught, as well as keeper Spanish mackerel up to 25 inches.  Bluefish ranging from ½ to 5 pounds are also being caught as well as pompano, whiting and a few trout.

At the jetties Spanish mackerel and blues can be caught casting spoons, and at the nearshore reefs spadefish, weakfish, bluefish and Spanish are around.  Cobia have also just started to show up.

April 24

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand are around 68-70 degrees, and the water has gotten dirty.

Even though catches have been pretty consistent, Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly(843-361-7445) reports that there have been some difficult fishing conditions with the wind during this transitional fishing season.

The best thing going right now is probably the flounder fishing in the Cherry Grove area, which has gotten really good.  Cherry Grove is the typical hot-spot during this period on the north end of the Grand Strand, and this year is no exception.  Drifting live mud minnows on a Carolina rig around the tide cycle is working as long is there is current.

In the Little River area the best pattern has been fishing docks in 5-6 feet of water for both redfish and black drum.  The best time to fish is the lower stages of the tide when there is still a little current, and on windy days anchoring at docks provides a fishable pattern.  Fresh cut shrimp and live shrimp will catch both species, while mud minnows will work for the reds.  Crabs will probably also work for both species although Captain Smiley’s boats have not tried them.

A nice red caught recently with Captain Smiley

A nice red caught recently with Captain Smiley

The trout bite has slowed down substantially, with up-and-down temperatures a likely culprit.  Once temperatures stabilize it should get better again.

At the jetties sharks are thick, and Captain Smiley’s boats have caught Atlantic sharpnose and even a small bull shark.

Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that fishing is starting to get really good off the pier, and lots of small bluefish are being caught.  Small Spanish mackerel are also showing up, and they have also gotten whiting and occasional flounder.  One flounder has been big enough to keep so far.

On days when you can get offshore Captain Smiley reports that nearshore at the 3-mile Caudle Reef weakfish, small bluefish, trout, and small black sea bass are around.

April 2

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand range from about 57 to 58 degrees, while the ocean is around 61.  Overall the water is still pretty clear.

Fishing in the Little River area is excellent, and Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that their main focus continues to be trout.  Not only are they extremely plentiful, but when there are lots of huge fish in the 25-30 inch range being caught it’s hard not to focus on the gators!

The key for catching the biggest fish has been drifting out at the jetties with live shrimp, which are still available at Captain Crumb’s Outpost off 501 in Myrtle Beach.  They are consistently catching the big ones floating live shrimp down the rocks on either the incoming or outgoing tide as long as there is some current.  They are fishing the bait 5-8 feet down on a suspended cork right off the rocks.  Some nice redfish in the 24-28 inch range are also being picked up this way.

Inside the creeks they are also catching trout on live shrimp as well as mud minnows, with the best action coming over either shelly or sandy bottoms on the low to rising tide. Gulp and Vudu Shrimp are also working, and about anywhere you stop you can catch lots and lots of small trout.  There are also some good ones inside the creeks, and unlike the ocean fish they seem pretty happy with live baits or artificials.

They are also picking up some nice reds inside the creeks, particularly in deep holes with 5-12 feet of water.

A beautiful redfish caught yesterday with Captain Patrick Smiley

A beautiful redfish caught yesterday with Captain Patrick Smiley

Black drum are feeding pretty well around docks on live or cut shrimp, but since they aren’t as finicky cut shrimp is the more cost-effective choice. They are also being found around drop-offs in the ICW, with the best action coming in five feet of water or less. You need current whether coming in or going out.

A few flounder are being caught, and about each trip they seem to get one keeper.  Very soon they should be plentiful in the Cherry Grove area, the first place they show up each year.

Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that in the last few days they have been doing really well for whiting, and there have also been some bluefish caught.  Last weekend there were a fair number of trout caught off the pier.

Nearshore Spanish mackerel are starting to show up as well as bluefish and dogfish.  At the 3-mile Jim Caudle Reef black sea bassare becoming prolific.

March 14

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand range from about 56 to 60 or 61.  While clarity is still good, snot grass is showing up typically for this time of year and so anglers are constantly having to clean it off of hooks.

It’s hard to lead off with anything besides trout when they are catching fish in the 10-pound range!  Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that out at the Little River jetties Captain Chris Ossman of his guide service has recently caught several fish in the 27-30 inch range, including the 30-inch fish pictured below.  The closest place where live shrimp are available is at Captain Crumb’s Outpost off 501 in Myrtle Beach, but it’s worth going because they have been making the difference for monster specks.  Drifting shrimp over the rocks under a slip bobber on the outgoing tide has been the ticket.  Adjust the depth until you find where the fish are holding and want to eat on a particular day.

Inshore there are also some trout being caught on the falling tide around oyster beds on live mud minnows. They will of course take shrimp, too.

Captain Chris Ossman with a monster 30-inch trout

Captain Chris Ossman with a monster 30-inch trout caught this week at the jetties

Redfish can also be picked up in the Inlet, and they are also catching red and black drum inshore.  Tuesday Captain Smiley caught eight nice redfish between 18 and 26 inches to with the other species targeted.   The best action has come on the incoming tide in very shallow water where there are 2-5 foot potholes in shallow creeks. Because they are targeting both redfish and black drum fresh cut shrimp is the bait of choice.

Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that surf temperatures are around 57 degrees, and the catch mainly consists of whiting and small croaker.  The ocean is clear.

February 8

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand have risen all the way to 59 degrees; although the water is clear breezy conditions this week have reduced visibility.

Even as temperatures warm redfish continue to be in the same type of places they have been much of the winter, and Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that on the falling tide today they have been able to pick up some creek fish by positioning the boat in shallow water and casting into little holes with 3-4 feet of water.  Sometimes low tide redfish will be in such shallow areas that they can not even be accessed with a boat, and at times Captain Smiley will get out and walk in hard, sandy creeks.  Fish are primarily in these spots hiding from dolphins looking to feed.  When fishing the dropping tide you have to be conscious of water levels so you don’t get stuck.

Fish can also be caught on the flats, and at this time of year the best conditions on the flats are low to rising tide in the middle of the day when the shallow mud flats can warm. You can spot them just laying around, pushing water, or you can see puffs of mud where they have been.

Artificial baits like Vudu Shrimp, Gulp! baits in New Penny, and mud minnows fished under a popping cork have all been working, but Captain Smiley points out that you will miss a lot of fish right now.  Every year at about this time they bite funny, grabbing half of the bait and sometimes spitting it out.

Captain Smiley with a nice redfish caught minutes ago in the creeks

Captain Smiley with a nice redfish caught minutes ago in the creeks

Trout can still be caught in the Intracoastal Waterway around drop offs in 5-10 feet of water, and they will also be around moving water near oyster banks.  Today they have mainly been catching smaller fish in the 13-inch range, but there are better fish around too.  Gulp! baits on a ¼ ounce jighead are working.

Fish can be also caught at the jetties, where the best pattern remains fishing live mullet, mud minnows or ideally shrimp under a slip bobber.  Drifting the bait with the current in 4-10 feet of water is the best pattern, which usually means keeping the bobber about 5-10 feet off the rocks. Any closer than that and the bait will usually get hung up.

There is still a good bite for smaller black drum, with some of the fish keeper-sized.  On the ledges fish can be caught in about 10 feet of water on small pieces of cut shrimp.

Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that surf temperatures have risen to about 50 degrees but only a few small whiting have been caught.

January 25

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand are still about 46-48 degrees.  Clarity is winter normal.

Fishing for redfish has been up and down this week, and Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that even though they had some good days extremely low tides were too late in the day to be ideal for fishing.  Things should be much better going forward.

At this time of year the best conditions for fishing is a low to rising tide in the middle of the day when the shallow mud flats can warm.  Even though the fish are in a semi-lethargic state, they will eat.  You can spot them just laying around, pushing water, or you can see puffs of mud where they have been.

Redfish can also be caught in the creeks, and they will get into small tidal pools with 4-8 feet of water. The fish are not visible to anglers, but primarily they are in these spots hiding from dolphins looking to feed. Sometimes they will be in super shallow areas that can not even be accessed with a boat, and at times Captain Smiley will get out and walk in hard sandy creeks.

Artificial baits like Vudu Shrimp, Gulp! baits in New Penny, and mud minnows fished under a popping cork have all been working.

A nice redfish caught with Captain Smiley at the LR jetties under live mullet.

A nice redfish caught with Captain Smiley at the LR jetties under live mullet.

Trout can be caught at the jetties as well as inside the creeks.  Out at the jetties the best pattern is fishing live mullet, mud minnows or ideally shrimp under a slip bobber.  Drifting the bait with the current in 4-10 feet of water is the best pattern, which usually means keeping the bobber about 5-10 feet off the rocks.  Any closer than that and the bait will usually get hung up.

There is also good trout fishing in the Intracoastal Waterway.  Fish will not be on the flats but around drop offs in 5-10 feet of water, and they also look for moving water.  Live finger mullet have been working well, with the best action usually on the rising tide but some fish also being caught on the incoming.

There is still a good bite for smaller black drum, with some of the fish keeper-sized.  On the ledges fish can be caught in about 10 feet of water on small pieces of cut shrimp.

Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that surf temperatures have dropped to about 50 degrees and the catch is limited to a few whiting, black drum, and the occasional flounder.

January 18

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand have dropped to 46-48 degrees.  Clarity is back to winter normal.

Water temperatures have dropped in the last week to ten days, but not enough to run the troutoff.  Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that they are still catching fish out at the jetties as well as inside in the Intracoastal along ledges in 5-10 feet.  Live finger mullet have been working well, with the best action usually on the rising tide but some fish also being caught on the incoming.

Colder, clearer water is a mixed blessing for redfish, as the fish are a bit less aggressive but much easier to see.  Sight fishing the low to rising tide is the best time to targets reds that have generally been slot-sized and above.  In addition to flats fishing, fish can also be found in the creeks around oyster beds and docks.

Artificial baits like Vudu Shrimp, Gulp! baits in New Penny, and mud minnows fished under a popping cork have all been working.

A nice winter red caught today with Captain Smiley

A nice winter red caught today with Captain Smiley

There is still a good bite for smaller black drum, although some of the fish are keeper-sized.  On the ledges fish can be caught in about 10 feet of water on small pieces of cut shrimp.

Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that surf temperatures have dropped to around 53 degrees and the catch has become limited to a few whiting and black drum.

January 9

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand have warmed up to 56-58 degrees.  Because of rain, wind and warmer than usual temperatures the water is not as clear as usual at this time of year.

Probably because of the unseasonably warm weather, Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that fishing is excellent right now for a variety of species.  They are catching a lot of slot-sized redfish as well as over-the-slot fish, and even though it’s winter fish are not grouped up in huge schools.  Frankly the fish are not in that different a pattern from what they have been in.  Fish can be found around oyster beds, docks, and on the flats, and both the incoming and outgoing tide have been productive in the right places.

Artificial baits like Vudu Shrimp, Gulp! baits in New Penny, and mud minnows fished under a popping cork have all been working.

Captain Smiley with a nice redfish caught this week

Captain Smiley with a nice redfish caught this week

The trout bite is still good, and they are catching fish in 5-10 feet along the ledges in the Intracoastal.  Both live mud minnows and Vudu Shrimp are working well, and while the best action has generally come on the rising tide yesterday they caught some fishing on the outgoing.

There is still a good bite for smaller black drum, although some of the fish are keeper-sized.  On the ledges fish can be caught in about 10 feet of water on small pieces of cut shrimp.

Captain Smiley’s boats have evened picked up some small flounder lately!

Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that surf temperatures have risen into the upper 50s, and as a result some fish have come closer to the beach.  There has been a pretty strong whiting run for January, and they have also caught some bluefish and a few flounder up to 16 inches.

January 1

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand are in the low 50s, and the water is seasonably clear.

There’s good action to be found in the Little River area, where Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that the trout bite is the best thing going.  They are catching trout along the ledges as well as out at the Little River jetties, and both live mud minnows and Vudu Shrimp are working well.

Redfish have also been very welling to eat, and Captain Smiley’s boats are catching a lot of bigger fish over the slot.  Mud minnows fished under a popping cork have been productive around oysters beds, docks and grass edges in the IntraCoastal.  Fish are schooled up tight and the best action has been on the incoming tide.

A beautiful redfish caught this week on Captain Smiley's boats

A beautiful redfish caught this week on Captain Smiley’s boats

November 27

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand are around 55 degrees, and after some extremely high “king” tides last weekend the water is a little dirty.

It’s still a good time to fish in the Little River area, and Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that they continue to catch a lot of small trout.  Fish can still be caught in a lot of different places, but casting to ledges in about 10 feet has been very productive.  Stage of the tide does not matter as long as there is moving water. By now they are pretty much fishing with artificials, including Gulp! And Vudu Shrimp.  White and chartreuse have been the best colors.

It’s getting late in the season but some flounder have also been picked up fishing the ledges for trout.

Redfish and black drum have both been together, and fishing with fresh, cut shrimp Captain Smiley’s boat has been picking up both species around docks and particularly around docks near shelly bottoms. The best bite has been on the incoming tide in 3-8 feet of water.

A nice dock red caught this week with Captain Smiley

A nice dock red caught this week with Captain Smiley

Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that surf temperatures are still about 60 degrees, but there is very little being caught off the pier. Some small whiting and undersized black drum are about the extent of the catch.

November 12

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand are down to the lower 60s, and the water has cleared up.

As would be expected on the South Carolina coast in the fall, Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that inshore fishing is good for a mixed bag of species.  Plenty of trout are being caught, and the only downside is that overall the fish are pretty small with relatively few keepers mixed in.  They will take most anything white, including live shrimp as well as Gulp! shrimp in white with a chartreuse tail.  Fish seem to be literally everywhere, and they can be caught around channels, sand bars, oyster beds, drop offs, and anywhere else that provides some sort of transition.  They are deep and shallow, and can be caught throughout the tide cycle.

Redfish are also biting well, particularly around grass and oysters.  They can be caught on Gulp! and cut mullet with most of the fish fairly shallow.

A few black drum are being caught on fresh or live shrimp fished around docks on the incoming tide.

Even though it’s getting late in the season, there has continued to be a pretty strong flounder bite.  On the outgoing tide they caught some nice fish on Gulp! baits yesterday afternoon.

A mixed bag caught yesterday with Captain Smiley

A mixed bag caught yesterday with Captain Smiley

Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that surf temperatures are about 60 degrees, and spot, whiting, croaker, black drum and the tail end of the pompano have been caught.  Some bluefish were also caught off the pier yesterday.

October 19

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand are in the mid-70s, and the water is starting to clean up after the hurricane.  There are very few shrimp in the creeks after the storm flushed them out.

With two major storms it’s been a wild start to the fall in the Little River area, but Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that as the water moves from heavily stained to clearer the fishing continues to be good.

The biggest change since last report is that the bull red drum in the 35-45 inch range are showing up in the inlet.  They can be caught around the jetties in 20-35 feet of water.  This is strictly a catch-and-release fishery, and the tackle of choice is live or cut mullet on a Carolina rig with a 2-ounce sinker and a 6/0 circle hook.

Inshore there are plenty of smaller reds to be caught in the creeks, and they have been biting Gulp! shrimp, live finger mullet and shrimp.  Fish are holding shallow around the grass and oyster beds, and the incoming tide has been the best recently.

A Little River bull red drum caught this week with Captain Smiley

A Little River bull red drum caught this week with Captain Smiley

Black drum can be caught in holes and around oyster beds on live shrimp.  The low to rising tide has been best.

The trout bite has been pretty good recently.  Fish can be caught on topwater lures, and they can also be caught in the Intracoastal around ledges and drops in about 10 feet of water.  Live shrimp under a popping cork are hard to beat.

Captain Smiley’s boats are also picking up some flounder here and there.

Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that pier fishing has been excellent recently, and just this Monday eleven king mackerel were caught off the pier.  They have also caught some nice 19-20 inch Spanish mackerel as well as flounder in the same size range.  Slot-sized redfish have been coming off the pier as well as a bunch of (mostly undersized) trout.  There are of course whiting, pinfish, and some spot around.

September 18

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand remain in the mid-80s and there is a ton of freshwater inflow from the Waccamaw.  Post-hurricane water conditions are very dirty, and Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that the storm does appear to have blown some shrimp out of the creeks. However, there are still plenty of shrimp and mullet around and overall the creeks are full of life.

While there is some flooding on the northern end of the South Carolina coast, the storm does not seem to have negatively affected the fishing.  They were biting before Florence, and back on the water today that was still the case.

The redfish bite is excellent, and Captain Smiley’s boats have found good numbers of 17-25 inch fish up shallow in 1-3 or 4 feet of water. Tide does not seem to matter, and last week they bit very well on high tide while today they were biting well on the low to rising.  Live shrimp, live mullet and Vudu Shrimp have all been working well.  There has also been a topwater bite throughout the day.

A nice topwater redfish caught today with Captain Smiley Fishing Charters

A nice topwater redfish caught today with Captain Smiley Fishing Charters

On the incoming tide trout can be caught in moving water along drops in the ICW, with the best action in 4-10 feet of water.  Live shrimp and Vudu Shrimp under popping corks have been working well.  Remember that SCDNR is asking anglers to practice catch and release of all spotted seatrout through the end of September. To read the full news release click here.

Black drum can also be found in the same areas and will take live or fresh cut shrimp.  The outgoing has been best for black drum.

Flounder fishing has been excellent for an hour or two both sides of high tide.  Fish have been in creek mouths and along oyster beds, but the best fishing has actually been down the gut of fairly good-sized creeks.  Live mullet and Gulp! baits have both been working.

Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that the water is very dirty, but the good news is the pier is fine after the storm and reopened yesterday.  Fishing should improve as the water clears.

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