AHQ INSIDER North Grand Strand (SC) Summer 2018 Fishing Report – Updated September 18 Reviewed by Momizat on . -- 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. -- 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. Rating: 0
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AHQ INSIDER North Grand Strand (SC) Summer 2018 Fishing Report – Updated September 18

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.

August 23

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand are in the mid- to upper-80s, and even though the water has been really murky the past few days Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that it has not slowed the action.  Overall it’s been a really good summer in the Little River/ North Myrtle Beach area, and as we move towards fall there is a very healthy shrimp population. Netting bait at low tide is easy.

There have been some really nice black drum caught this week, including a big eight-pound fish caught yesterday on live shrimp.  The best action has been on the falling tide along deeper ledges in about 12 feet of water in the channels and the Intracoastal Waterway.  There have also been some good fish caught around docks.

The 8-pound inshore black drum

The 8-pound inshore black drum

Redfish have been eating live shrimp fished up shallow on the flats under a popping cork, with the best bite on the falling tide.  A lot of the fish have been over the slot, but sub-15 inch fish are also pretty plentiful.

A few flounder have been caught here and there on live finger mullet and Gulp! new penny shrimp and swimming minnows.  The best bite for flounder has been on the low to rising tide in deeper holes in 5-10 feet of water.

Most of the trout that Captain Smiley’s boats have picked up have been very small, and overall the bite has been pretty slow the past couple of weeks.  When they do catch trout it’s usually at creeks mouths or the edge of oyster beds on moving tides.  Live shrimp or Vudu Shrimp under a popping cork will both work.   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.

Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that a few whitingcroaker and sheepshead have been caught off the pier.  Overall conditions have been really muddy and there have been no king mackerel or Spanish caught.

August 3

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand are in the mid-80s, and water clarity is poor.

It’s been a wet one with very cloudy water conditions, but Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly(843-361-7445) reports that fishing has still been pretty good in the Little River/ North Myrtle Beach area.

They have been finding a very consistent bite for over-slot redfish in the 30-inch range, and with the warm water fish have gone deeper into channels in the 15-20 foot range.  There isn’t a particular tide when you need to be fishing, but there needs to be current moving.

A nice redfish caught with Captain Smiley

A nice redfish caught on Captain Smiley’s boat

Black drum have been holding in similar areas to the redfish, and Captain Smiley is catching them in the same areas as the redfish – particularly around deeper, rocky bottoms in the Intracoastal.  Fishing a ¼ ounce jighead baited with a live shrimp has been working.  Shrimp are pretty prolific and catching most species right now.

The trout bite has been pretty good on live shrimp fished under a popping cork a couple of hours before high on the rising tide. Fish have been fairly shallow around oyster beds in creeks off the ICW.  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.

The pattern for catching flounder has been a little different, and they are having the most success fishing for an hour or two after high tide casting mullet (or shrimp) into creek mouths.  The bites usually come as the bait drifts out of the creek mouths and run into oyster beds.

Cherry Grove Pier(843-249-1625) reports that whitingcroaker, and silver perch are fairly common, and they have also caught some nice black drum in the 18 plus inch range.  A few blues are being picked up on cut bait, and at night sharks and stingrays are being caught. It has just been too muddy for Spanish and king mackerel.

July 2

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand are in the mid- to lower-80s, and water clarity has actually been pretty good for the season.

Despite the summer heat, Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that fishing has been wide open in the Little River/ North Myrtle Beach area.  This morning they found a good topwater bite first thing for trout from sunrise to about 7:30, and Zara Spooks were hot for fish up to about 4 pounds.  Overall the trout fishing has really picked up in the last couple of months, with much improved numbers as well as plenty of big fish.

Outside of the early morning window they have also been catching trout on live shrimp fished under popping corks over shelly bottoms, oysters beds and along grass edges.  The best fishing has been in about 6 feet of water on any tide that has the current moving.

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.

Some redfish have also been taking the topwater lures in the morning, but in general the best drum bite has come on the low to rising tide. Fish are shallow – and when the water is just getting over the oyster shells the fish are there, and when the water is getting into the grass fish are along the grass line or moving into it. Cut or live mullet have been working really well for the reds.

Feeling patriotic on Captain Smiley Fishing Charters!

Feeling patriotic on Captain Smiley Fishing Charters!

Today Captain Smiley’s boat caught a bunch of flounder, with both live mullet and white, Gulp! swimming mullet working well. On low tide they have been finding them in deep, 10-foot holes in shallow creeks.

Rounding out an inshore grand slam, black drum have also been feeding well.  They have been around ledges or docks in the Intracoastal Waterway, usually in 4-15 feet. Cut or live shrimp fished on a ¼ ounce jighead are working well.

Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that it continues to be a phenomenal year for king mackerel, and they have caught a good 40-50 fish in the last month.  They have also caught some big Spanish in the 5-6 pound range on the king rigs. The bluefish have slowed down a bit except for the small fish which are still around, and they are only seeing the rare, undersized flounder.  Whiting and even a few spots have been caught here and there.  Finally, several big black drum up to 8 pounds and some bull red drum have been caught.

Nearshore, from the pier report it’s no surprise that there has been a red hot bite for Spanish and kings. Bull drum are also in the Little River inlet, and Atlantic sharpness sharks and some bonnethead sharks are around.

June 19

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand are in the low 80s and clarity is poor. Surf temperatures are around 80.

Inshore fishing has been pretty good at the top of the Grand Strand, and Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that they are catching a mixed bag of species in the early summer heat.

In the Intracoastal Waterway they have been catching redfish and black drum on live or fresh dead baits including shrimp, and fishing an hour before high tide in 8-10 feet on the ledges has been hot.  On lower tides you can catch fish in about 4 feet of water.  Black drum have been pretty consistent in the 10-20 inch range on live or fresh cut shrimp.

Some happy campers this week on Captain Smiley's boat

Some happy campers this week on Captain Smiley’s boat

While targeting drum an exciting by-catch has been some really nice bluefish up to the 10-plus pound range that have been caught inshore – catching small blues inshore is normal, but having these sizes in the creeks is a rarity.  And proving that you never know what you are going to catch in the ocean, today Captain Smiley’s boat caught striped bass on live shrimp! He speculates that all the fresh water has changed the salinity and fish movement patterns.

Flounder have been pretty consistent on live finger mullet, mud mullet, and even Gulp! baits fished on a ¼ ounce jighead.  The best pattern has been fishing deep holes in the backwaters on lower tides.

A few trout have also been caught on live shrimp fished under a popping cork, including a 20-incher today!  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.

Some bonehead sharks have been caught shallow in creeks like Bonaparte Creek, and out in the inlet bull red drum, stingrays, and Atlantic sharpnose sharks have been caught.

Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that small whiting, croaker, occasional spots, a few black drum, a few bluefish, and some small Spanish mackerel have been caught off the pier.  But the most exciting news is that it has been a marquee year for king mackerel and over the past few weeks they have had 25-28 keeper fish caught.

May 24

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand range from the mid- to upper-70s inshore, while in the ocean water temperatures are around 74 degrees.  In the breakers it’s muddy while a couple hundred yards off the beach the sea is pretty clear.

Inshore fishing continues to be very strong, and Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that the bite for redfish and black drum in the 15-30 inch range has been excellent.  Both species are feeding very well on quarter sections of hard or soft shell crabs, and reds are also taking menhaden and mud minnows with black drum also eating shrimp. Captain Smiley is fishing everything on ¼ ounce jigheads.  Redfish are biting best around the edges of oyster beds and along grass edges, while black drum are feeding well around oyster banks and drops.  You can catch both species on any tide in the right spot.

The flounder bite has slowed down a little in the past week or two, but fish will still eat mud minnows or Gulp! swimming minnows fished on a ¼ ounce jighead.  The low to rising tide has been best fishing around holes in the Intracoastal Waterway.

While they are not plentiful, there are some small trout that have been caught.  Captain Smiley’s boat also caught this 7-pound gator on a mud minnow fished under a popping cork!  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.

A monster trout caught and released on Captain Smiley's boat this week

A monster trout caught and released on Captain Smiley’s boat this week

Inshore there are some bluefish up to about 3 pounds around.

Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that before the storm earlier this week they had an excellent run on bluefish, with fish ranging from 1 pound up to a 14-pound monster (caught on a king rig and pictured below).  There were also lots of nice-sized Spanish mackerel caught earlier in the week.  A big red drum was landed off the pier as well as a bunch of nice black drum. Bottom fish like pompano, some spots and of course whiting and croaker are also around. There have been no more king mackerel since the last report.

Photo courtesy of Cherry Grove Pier

Photo courtesy of Cherry Grove Pier

May 10

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand range from about 69-72 degrees, and there is still excellent visibility on the incoming tide.

May is here on the upper end of the Grand Strand, and as is customary Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that fishing is taking off.  Flounder have arrived, and although there are a lot of smaller fish plenty of big females are around, too.  Captain Smiley reports that a key to catching the better fish has been using really big baits, and he is fishing the biggest mud minnows he can catch or 6-inch Gulp swimming minnows, both on ¼ ounce jigheads. Flounder can be found in deeper holes on lower stages of the tide, particularly in 4-10 feet of water.  A sandy bottom helps and Tubbs Inlet and Hogg Inlet have been productive.

Black drum fishing has been really good, and they are killing both soft shell or hard shell crabs.  Fishing around oyster bars or docks in 4-10 feet of water on the low to rising tide has been the best pattern.

A nice black drum caught this week with Captain Smiley Fishing Charters

A nice black drum caught this week with Captain Smiley Fishing Charters

Action for redfish has also been very strong, and nice 15-18 inch fish have been everywhere.  They are catching them around oyster beds on the edges of grass, very shallow, and around drop-offs.  Reds are taking live mud minnows or Gulp! baits fished on a ¼ ounce jighead, and overall the rising tide has been most productive.

Mixed in with the redfish have been nice 15-23 inch bluefish in the 2-4 pound range, and these are eating the same baits as the reds. Sometimes a bait will get snapped in half by a blue and then a redfish will end up eating it.  When there are a lot of blues in an area you can try throwing casting jigs in there, and they are also biting topwater plugs very well.

Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that the last three days they have had a run of king mackerel, with seven fish landed and several more getting off.  Just today they have also had some very large ten-pound bluefish, and some nice Spanish mackerel up to 16-18 inches.

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.

April 27

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand are around 65, and when the wind lies down the water is still super clear.  On windy days it gets murky.

There has been some challenging weather with an abundance of wind for much of April, but Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that there have still been some good catches recently.  Crabs are molting and so the fish are on a crab bite, with blue crabs a dynamite bait right now.  They are also catching a lot of fish on fresh cut shrimp, and mud minnows on a ¼ ounce jighead have also been working.  Artificials like Gulp! haven’t been quite as good lately.

Last week they caught a huge 45-inch red drum in the ICW on a blue crab, and there have been plenty of slot-sized fish, too.  The best fishing has been on the higher tides when there is still a steadily moving current getting up in the grass, and they have generally been fishing pretty shallow.

A monster red caught this week with Captain Smiley Fishing Charters in the ICW

A monster red caught this week with Captain Smiley Fishing Charters in the ICW

Small flounder are beginning to show up, but trout have been pretty much nonexistent.  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.

Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that they are catching a bunch of 8-12 inch bluefish, whiting, croaker and a few small black drum. They did land a 27-inch red drum off the pier but no Spanish so far.  Water temperatures are still only about 64 degrees.

April 12

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand are 60 and slightly above, and the water is still gin clear.

As temperatures start to rise fishing is rapidly improving at the top of the South Carolina coast, and Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that on his most recent trip they caught 20+ redfish ranging from 17 to 26 inches to go with a good number of black drum.  The fish are being caught in 5-10 foot holes in and off the IntraCoastal, and although the rising tide was best yesterday they will bite at other times too.  Cut shrimp and Gulp! baits are working for redfish, with black drum preferring the natural fare.  Some small croaker and other bait stealers are starting to show up, so fishing shrimp can be a bit more challenging than in the winter.

Flounder are starting to be caught in the Cherry Grove area, but so far the vast majority of them are undersized.  Drifting the creeks with mud minnows throughout the tide cycle is working well, and very soon more keepers will arrive.

Few trout have been caught recently but Captain Smiley’s boat did pick up this 7 ½ pound monster on Sunday!  Fishermen are reminded that, as a precautionary measure, the 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.

A 7.5 pound trout caught with Captain Smiley's Fishing Charters

A 7.5 pound trout caught with Captain Smiley’s Fishing Charters

Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that with surf temperatures right at 60 degrees they are seeing more whiting, croaker, perch and few spots.  Lots of small flounder are also being caught as well as the first keeper black drum of the season, a 22-incher.  There are also plenty of small sand sharks and skates.

March 30

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand are in the mid-50s.

With poor weather the trips have been limited, and when they have been able to get out the fishing has also been pretty tough around Little River. Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly(843-361-7445) reports that the main catch has been black drum.  They have caught some nice drum up to about 6 ½ pounds on fresh cut shrimp, but not very much else has been biting recently.

With better weather around the corner fishing time and catches should pick up.

March 15

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand have dropped into the low to mid-50s, and the water is still gin clear.

Even though water temperatures are heading in the wrong direction, Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that redfish are in very shallow water feeding.  With a stealthy approach via trolling motor his boat has caught some nice 15-27 inch fish for two hours on each side of low tide.  The reds are very shallow, with some in 1 foot of water or less and others in 4-5 foot deep potholes.  On the low tide mud flats you can see them pushing up a wake or creating mud clouds, and they are usually in the same areas as large mullet.  Gulp! or mud minnows on a ¼ ounce jighead have been working great.

A nice redfish caught this week with Captain Smiley

A nice redfish caught this week with Captain Smiley

There have also been some black drum caught on the low to rising tide in about 6 feet of water on ledges or docks along the main river.  Fresh cut shrimp and crabs have been working well.

Fishermen are reminded that, as a precautionary measure, the 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.

March 2

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand are up to 60-63 degrees, and the shallows are still very clear.

Inshore fishing is picking up around Little River, and Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that on the low to rising tide they have been doing well for redfish in the 18-27 inch range.  Fish are being caught on both Gulp! and live mud minnows in the tidal marshes off the IntraCoastal Waterway.

A nice redfish caught this week on Captain Smiley's boat

A nice redfish caught this week on Captain Smiley’s boat

They are also catching a few black drum on crabs and shrimp on the incoming tide around the ledges in 6-15 feet of water.

While the expectation is that numbers are way down, there have been some reports of trout being caught – including this 18-inch fish.  Anglers are reminded that, as a precautionary measure, the 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.

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February 16

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand are up to 52 or 53 degrees, and on warm days they have hit as high as the mid-50s.  The water is still gin clear.

Late winter/ early spring fishing is just getting started on the upper end of the Grand Strand, and Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that with lower tides in the warmest part of the day fishing conditions have actually been pretty ideal.

Around docks in the ICW redfish and black drum have been caught on ¼ ounce jigheads baited with fresh shrimp or live mud minnows.  The lower to rising tide has been best, and plenty of 17-23 inch reds as well as some over-slot fish in the 27+ inch range have been caught.

A nice red caught on Captain Smiley's boat

A nice red caught on Captain Smiley’s boat

Trout have been extremely tough to come by.  Anglers are reminded that, as a precautionary measure, the 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.

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