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AHQ INSIDER North Grand Strand (SC) Spring 2018 Fishing Report – Updated April 27

  • by Jay

The newest North Grand Strand fishing report can be found at: http://www.anglersheadquarters.com/ahq-insider-north-grand-strand-sc-spring-2018-fishing-report/

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 trouthave 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 redfishare 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 redfishand black drumhave 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.

December 19

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand have dropped to around 47 degrees, and with gin clear water, mild conditions and a still-very strong bite it can be one of the most satisfying times of the year to fish around Little River.

The inshore redfish bite has been strong for nice fish on the smaller end of the slot, and Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that his boat has been catching a lot of 15-18 inch fish.  Chiefly they are catching them in shallow water 2-3 feet deep for a couple of hours each side of low tide.  Gulp! as well as cut shrimp on a ¼ ounce jighead have both been working well.  The bigger redfish can still be found in the Inlet around the jetties, but with such a good bite inshore it’s been hard to leave.

The troutbite is still excellent, and on moving tides around ledges in 6-8 feet of water Patrick’s boat has been catching impressive numbers of trout (as well as some very nice ones) on live shrimp, Vudu Shrimp, and Mirrolures.

Another banner day for trout this week on Captain Smiley's boat
Another banner day for trout this week on Captain Smiley’s boat

Black drumhave also been caught on the same pattern as the trout with either live or cut shrimp.

December 1

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand have dropped into the lower to mid-50s, and with mild air temperatures/ improving clarity this is one of the most pleasant (and productive) times of the year to fish the Little River area.

The troutbite continues to be outstanding, and Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that most of the fish are keepers in an impressive 15-20 plus inch range.  The fish bite better on moving tides, and current running along the ledges in 6-8 feet of water offers the best conditions.  An assortment of artificial lures have been working well, with Vudu Shrimp probably the best and most popular right now but Gulp!, Zman, Trout Tricks and other baits also working.  Of course live shrimp will also produce, and some fish are still being caught on top on Spooks.

When anchored up and casting at a spot drifting live shrimp behind the boat in the current is working.

A beautiful trout caught on Captain Smiley's boat
A beautiful trout caught on Captain Smiley’s boat

There are also plenty of black drumbeing caught along the ledges on the bottom.  They are eating shrimp, and some small, undersized sheepsheadare also mixed in.

Occasional redfishhave been mixed in with the catch, and most of these have been over the slot.  They are usually being caught in shallow water on the bottom with live shrimp or live mullet.  The Little River Inlet jetties have also been a hot spot on the outgoing tide for spottails and black drum.

Lots of small flounder, mostly undersized, have been caught on ¼ ounce jigheads with Gulp! curly tail grubs and Vudu Shrimp.

November 9

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand have dropped into the mid-60s.  Without a doubt this is the best time of the year to fish the Little River area, and Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that the big pre-winter feed is in full swing.

The trout bite is as good as it gets, and some nice fish in the 3 plus pound range have been caught recently.  Trout are holding on ledges and drops in 6-8 feet of water, and the tide doesn’t seem to make a big difference as long as it’s moving.  Live shrimp, Vudu Shrimp, Trout Tricks and ZMan baits have all been working.

Redfishare also on the move and feeding, and lots of fish in the 15-30 inch range are being caught.  Reds can be found anywhere from the flats to drop offs to deep holes, and the area you want to fish is dependent on the tide.  There are also a good number of slot-sized fish being caught around the jetties, although the bigger bull drum are phasing out.

A nice redfish caught on Captain Smiley's boat
A nice redfish caught on Captain Smiley’s boat

Despite it being almost the middle of November some really nice flounderare still being caught, and in the recent Captain Smiley Inshore Slam out of Cricket Cove Marina on Saturday there were a couple of five plus pound fish brought to the scales.  The best action has been around lower tide in deeper holes inside the creeks, and both finger mullet and Gulp! baits have been working.

Sheepsheadare plentiful for anglers who target them, and there are even some sheeps being caught on Captain Smiley’s boat on live shrimp in the shallows.

Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that fishing has slowed in the surf zone, and the catch now is limited to some whiting, croaker, spots, small flounder, and occasional redfish.

Captain Smiley reports that the first annual tournament was a big success with 46 boats, and he would like to thank all the sponsors as well as the winners – particularly the overall winner Clay Morphis on the boat Pork Chop.  A 5.40 pound flounder and a 4.74 pound speckled sea trout anchored his 12.56 pound slam.

October 20

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand have dropped to around 69-70 degrees; water clarity is still pretty low.

It’s a very good time to be fishing on the north end of the Grand Strand, and Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly reports that in the Little River area they have been doing really well for redfish.  Plenty of over the slot red drum have been caught, and on calmer days when you can sit in the inlet if you put in the time you will catch a big one.  Inshore plenty of 24-26 inch reds are being caught on finger mullet fished on a ¼ ounce jighead, with the last hour of the outgoing and then the incoming tide best.

A beautiful redfish caught this week on Captain Smiley's boat
A beautiful redfish caught this week on Captain Smiley’s boat

Flounder have been picked up also fishing the bottom of the tide and then the incoming, and again there are a mix of small fish and keepers.  In addition to finger mullet on a ¼ ounce jighead flounder (and reds) will also take Gulp! baits.

Black drum have been biting pretty well on the incoming on shrimp fished on a ¼ ounce jighead, while trout fishing has been a little off but should pick up soon.

Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that off-and-on for the last ten days there has been sporadic spot activity, and there have also been some nice whiting, croaker and pompano caught as well as small black drum.  Despite menhaden so thick you could walk on them there have been relatively few bluefish and Spanish mackerel around.  Flounder fishing has been poor as with the beach renourishment oxygen levels on the bottom are bad.  A 14 ½ inch weakfish was also caught today.

Note that there will be an inshore fishing tournament and festival November 4 out of Cricket Cove Marina.  For more information check out http://www.captainsmileyinshoreslam.com/.

October 5

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand have dropped to around 73 degrees inshore and about 77 in the ocean.  Clarity is normal.

Fishing has been good in the Little River area, and Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly reports that the action for small redfish in the 15-17 inch range is very strong.  They are chiefly catching fish on the lower end of the tides and with tons of finger mullet around cut or live bait fished on a ¼ ounce jig has been working very well.

Flounder are biting well for the last few days, and while most of the fish are small they did have a nice 5-pound fish caught yesterday.  Again finger mullet fished on the lower tides have been hard to top.

Trout action has been a little slow, and the best time to target specs has been on the higher tides.  Black drum have been feeding well on shrimp and crabs on the outgoing.

In the Little River Inlet some big drum are being caught on the incoming tide on large mullet and menhaden.  The bait run is still very much underway.

Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that earlier this week they had some spots caught off the pier, and bluefish, Spanish, whiting and croaker are pretty consistent.

September 15

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand have dropped and range from the low 80s in the creeks to about 77 in the surf.  The water is very dirty.

The bite hasn’t changed a lot since the storm even though the water has gotten dirty, but there have been decent numbers of small redfishcaught inshore – before the storm they were a little hard to locate.  Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly reports that his boat is now catching them in very shallow water throwing ¼ ounce jigheads with live mullet, live shrimp or cut mullet.

A young angler happy to show off a redfish caught this week on Captain Smiley's boat
A young angler happy to show off a redfish caught this week on Captain Smiley’s boat

Troutand flounderare still being caught, and the bull drum are being caught on dead high tide near the Little River jetties.

Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that there are lots of reds and black drum being caught off the pier in only 3-4 feet of water, with the reds running generally 30-35 inches.  Plenty of 10-15 inch bluefish are around as well as the usual croaker, whiting and perch.  There is a king mackerel tournament off the pier this weekend.

August 31

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

It’s starting to feel like fall, and Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly reports that right on cue the larger redfish are starting to school up in the Little River Inlet.  Mullet are running up and down the beaches, and as a result there are plenty of reds ranging from the larger end of the slot up to about 36 inches.  They will eat both mullet and menhaden.  Inside the creeks the redfish have been tough to locate recently.

There is still a strong troutbite, and on the rising tide action has been pretty consistent with live shrimp fished under a popping cork.  Fish are in 3-10 feet of water around points, drops and ledges.  There are also a tremendous number of snapper bluefish in these same areas, and right now it’s a pretty safe bet that if there are either trout or bluefish in an area the other species is also present.

Flounderfishing has been good on the outgoing tide with live mullet fished on the bottom.  The fish have been in deeper holes with about 10 feet of water.

A nice flounder caught on Captain Patrick Smiley's boat
A nice flounder caught on Captain Patrick Smiley’s boat

The black drumbite has also been strong, with fish caught around Tillman’s Docks.  Fish are biting live or fresh dead shrimp on the outgoing tide.

Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that whiting, croaker, a few pompano, a few black drum and some spadefish have been caught off the pier.  There are some nice-sized Spanish mackerel around but kings have not returned since April.

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