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AHQ INSIDER North Grand Strand (SC) Summer 2018 Fishing Report – Updated June 19

  • by Jay

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

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.

Flounderhave 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 flounderbite 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 redfishhas 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 bluefishin 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 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.

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