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AHQ INSIDER Greater Murrells Inlet (SC) Fall Fishing Report – Updated November 4

  • by Jay

November 4

Murrells Inlet water temperatures are around 70 degrees, and with a shortage of bait iin the creeks since the hurricane gamefish are generally biting lures and live baits very well.

It’s a great time to be troutfishing along the Grand Strand, and Captain J of Fishful Thinking Guide Service (843-902-0356) reports that the trout bite is nothing short of phenomenal.  They are catching 15-25 keeper-sized fish per charter, including some large fish.  Lots of shrimp are in the creeks and the pinfish are gone, which allows anglers to float live shrimp without being bothered by bait stealers.  Trolling Mirrolures and grubs is also working.  The best areas have been around the jetties and oyster beds, and the fishing has been strongest at high tide.  Early in the morning they are also catching some big trout on surface lures.

Perry’s Bait and Tackle in Murrells Inlet (843-651-2895) concurs that they are seeing one of the strongest trout bites in a while, with shrimp, Gulp! baits and live finger mullet all generating good action.  The best reports they are getting come from anglers fishing along the grass edges on moving tides in both directions.  Some trout are also being caught in the surf but inside the Inlet has been stronger.

Some nice trout caught this week on Captain J. Baisch’s boat

Redfishaction is also pretty strong inshore, although Captain J. reports that the hottest bite for spottails is for bull drum at the tips of the jetties.  They are eating pretty much everything, including live and cut menhaden and mullet.  Captain J. has had a little better luck on live bait offerings, but he’s seeing fish caught on the cut bait too.  Lower tides have been better.

The fishing for black drumis also wide open, with Perry’s reporting strong catches around the jetties and piers as well as inshore.  Captain J. is catching most of his black drum in the creeks on cut shrimp in a variety of different places including sand flats, near oyster bars, around structure, etc.  If you put out cut shrimp black drum are so prolific right now that they will find it.  Lower stages of the tide have been more productive because they concentrate the fish better.

With other inshore species biting well it’s surprising that the flounder bite isn’t stronger, but there have been relatively few limits caught and most of the fish that are caught seem to be undersized.

One last species that is biting very well is spot, and in the Inlet spots are running hard.  Perry’s is selling blood worms “like crazy,” and at times Murrells Inlet appears to be home to an armada of jonboats!

October 13

Captain J of Fishful Thinking Guide Service (843-902-0356) reports that he has not been back on the water yet, and like most Murrells Inlet-area residents he’s been busy cleaning up.  As of yesterday the schools had not opened yet, but he says that most people have power again.  Still, it’s a mess and the water is muddy.  Report to follow once he’s fishing again.

Perry’s Bait and Tackle in Murrells Inlet (843-651-2895) reports that the store sustained some property damage to the dock, pump and yard, but they are back in business.  They have mud minnows, eels, blood worms and a variety of frozen baits, but live bait is hard to come by and all the shrimp seem to have washed out of the creek.  Updates to follow.

A tree down in Captain J's yard
A tree down in Captain J’s yard

September 30

There has been a lot of rain and wind affecting water clarity along the Grand Strand this week, and water temperatures are around 80 degrees.

Perry’s Bait and Tackle in Murrells Inlet (843-651-2895) reports that fishing hasn’t changed a whole lot in the past week, mostly because water temperatures have yet to really dip into a “fall” range.

Bull red drum continue to be caught in good numbers, and black drumfishing is also good.  Flounderfishing is just not great, and a good day for anglers who know what they are doing involves catching 4 or 5 keeper fish on the smaller end of the range.  Water temperatures need to get cooler to kick-start the flounder bite.

On Springmaid Pier this week a run of spot seems to have started, but they haven’t arrived in Murrells Inlet yet.  There have also been pompano caught off the beaches as well as in Winyah Bay.  In the surf lots of bluefish have been caught and Spanish mackerel are also around.

With windy conditions this week there is little nearshore activity to report.

September 23

Water clarity is pretty bad near the beach because of recent storms, but 3 or 4 miles out it improves.

The bull red drum have arrived in the Murrells Inlet area, and Captain J of Fishful Thinking Guide Service (843-902-0356) reports that near the tips of the jetties and pretty much any rock pile close to the beach they can be caught.  Cut or live mullet and menhaden anchored on the bottom will both catch fish – as Perry’s Bait and Tackle in Murrells Inlet (843-651-2895) points out blue crabs also will.  Captain J does not use a wire leader as it discourages redfish bites (and hence has some cut-offs from sharks).  When the fish are thick like right now they can be caught at most any stage of the tide at the rock piles, while at the jetties lower stages of the tide are best.  Bull reds are also being caught off the ledges at Surfside Beach.  Inshore mostly fish under the slot are being caught, so Captain J says he’s really catching big and little fish.

A bull red drum caught today on Captain J Baisch's boat
A bull red drum caught today on Captain J Baisch’s boat

Inshore the water is dirty, especially on windy days, and so Captain J says he is spending a lot of time targeting prolific black drum.  They eat by smell and not sight, and shrimp and crabs are both good baits.  With shrimp you still have to weed through a lot of pinfish, but if you wait them out and keep throwing shrimp into an area eventually the bigger fish will move in.  The best tide for black drum is the lower stages of the incoming or outgoing when water is out of the grass, and black drum will be anywhere including tiny sand ripples, oyster beds, holes, etc.

Early in the morning the topwater trout bite has been pretty hot.  Surface lures such as a bone-colored Spook have been working well for Captain J, as have suspending jerk baits.  Grass edges, oyster bars, or most any good ambush point is worth fishing, and it’s important to cover a lot of ground.  Fishing shrimp can be a little tough with the pinfish, especially since they are more visual feeders than the black drum.  Perry’s adds that some random big trout are being caught at the jetties on live shrimp and Vudu Shrimp, but there is little consistency to this bite.

The inshore flounder bite has been a little slow, and in the surf whiting, croaker and bluefish are being caught.  Mullet schools are thick.

At the nearshore reefs 3-5 miles offshore some big flounder are being caught, and Captain J says that fishing a Carolina rig with a ¾ or 1 ounce egg sinker and dragging the edges is the key.  If you aren’t losing gear you aren’t fishing the right way!  His boat has been catching some nice Gulf flounder in the 3-5 pound range.  Spanish mackerel are also being caught out there trolling planer boards with Clarks spoons, or live chumming with handfuls of finger mullet and getting the fish activated before throwing lures or mullet to them.  Perry’s reports that some weakfish have been caught at the 3-Mile as well as small kings.

September 16

Air and water temperatures are dropping, and with the cooler conditions Perry’s Bait and Tackle in Murrells Inlet (843-651-2895) reports that fishing is picking up.

Inshore in the creeks shrimp are prolific and the gamefish catch is starting to take off; some nice redfish have been caught over the last week or two.  While numbers have not been too impressive some big trout have been caught recently.  Flounder fishing is better than a couple of weeks ago, but it still hasn’t gotten anywhere near as good as it will later this fall.

In the surf mullet are running, and as a result lots of bluefish and Spanish mackerel are being caught off the beaches and piers.  Perry’s is selling tons of finger mullet for bluefish, and anglers are catching fish up to about 18 inches.  On the piers the Spanish mackerel catch has been about 50% keepers.  Decent numbers of whiting are being caught, and off Springmaid Pier on Wednesday Perry’s had their first report of spot caught.  Some big blacktip sharks have been caught in the surf recently.

Sandy Goodman with a big blacktip shark caught on fresh mullet from Perry's off Garden City Beach
Sandy Goodman with a big blacktip shark caught on fresh mullet from Perry’s off Garden City Beach

At the jetties and off the ledges at Surfside Beach bull red drum are starting to show up.  They will take cut mullet, cut menhaden and blue crabs.  Sheepshead have also been caught at the Murrells Inlet jetties as well as the Georgetown jetties on fiddler crabs.

At the nearshore reefs small king mackerel, bull red drum, flounder and weakfishhave all been caught.

Shrimp baiting season is off to a good start in Winyah Bay and Muddy Bay.