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AHQ INSIDER South Grand Strand/ Murrells Inlet (SC) Spring 2021 Fishing Report – Updated April 30

  • by Jay

April 30

Morning surface water temperatures are hitting the low 70s in Murrells Inlet.

Baisch Boys Bait and Tackle (843-651-1915) has regular and jumbo mud minnows, crappie minnows, fresh shrimp, and a full range of frozen baits. Fiddler crabs are available again.

The fishing on the south end of the Grand Strand is just starting to pick up again, although Captain Jay Baisch reports that it still has a ways to go. However, they are now catching tons of flounder again, although generally sizes are small. Catching 20-40 fish on a trip but with only 2-4 fish over 15 inches is not unusual. 

Whether you are fishing in Murrells Inlet, Pawleys or around Litchfield there are a few redfish and trout around, but the numbers are not good yet. 

In better news the Spanish mackerel fishing has been phenomenal, and people are catching easy limits trolling spoons or Christmas tree rigs on planer boards. Out in 50-60 feet they are also doing well trolling dead cigar minnows on cigar minnow rigs with a jighead for king mackerel. Soon they expect to see cobia come closer to the beaches, but right now they are out in 100 feet. 

At the Georgetown Hole they have caught some blackfin tuna and dolphin, but soon the fish should come in a little closer.  For right now they are all the way out in the actual Gulf Stream.

April 2

Morning surface water temperatures are around 60 in Murrells Inlet.

Baisch Boys Bait and Tackle (843-651-1915) has regular and jumbo mud minnows, crappie minnows, fresh shrimp, and a full range of frozen baits. Most days fiddler crabs are available again.

Because it was a real winter this year things are little slow kicking off on the south end of the Grand Strand this spring, but Captain Jay Baisch (843-902-0356) reports that fish are starting to return to the Murrells Inlet area creeks. There are a bunch of flounder in the creeks already, but while you might catch 20 on a trip only one could be a keeper.  There are also a few trout and redfish being caught, but once again the action is better for these species around Pawley’s Island and Litchfield where some fish are being caught in holes on afternoons where the water is able to warm. However, there has been so much accretion this winter that Litchfield creeks are very hard to access outside of dead high tide. Large trout have not really showed up yet anywhere in the area. 

Black drum are just starting to move around inshore, but at the jetties some nice black drum and sheepshead are being caught as they leave the reefs. 

A nice sheepshead caught with Captain Jay Baisch
A nice sheepshead caught with Captain Jay Baisch

While the sheeps have mostly vacated the nearshore reefs there are still plenty of black drum to be caught out there, and there are a bunch of weakfish around right now. The first Spanish mackerel are also being caught trolling nearshore or even at the tips of the jetties with Christmas tree rigs on #1 planer boards. Bluefish are also around, and there even some big bluefish inshore in the creeks. 

Offshore some big wahoo have showed up recently and the bite for blackfin tuna has been very good.  There are also some yellowfins around.

March 11

Morning surface water temperatures are in the low 50s in Murrells Inlet and the water is crystal clear. 

Baisch Boys Bait and Tackle (843-651-1915) has regular and jumbo mud minnows, crappie minnows, fresh shrimp, and a full range of frozen baits. Most days fiddler crabs are available again.  

For the first time in a little while we had a real winter this year, and so even as water temperatures start to warm Captain Jay Baisch (843-902-0356) points out that they are starting from a low point. As a result inshore fishing has been slow in Murrells Inlet. There are a very few trout and redfish being caught, but overall there is not much to report. The fishing is a little better in the creeks around Pawley’s Island and Litchfield, and there are some redfish and trout being caught in holes on afternoons where the water is able to warm. Soft plastics and Mirrolures are the baits of choice. 

There are also decent numbers of flounder around, albeit very few if any keepers yet, but the “snot grass” that grows in cold winters is going to make bottom fishing for them tough for a time. 

With some nice weather the past few days the action at the nearshore reefs in 30-40 feet has been good for black drum and sheepshead fishing. 

Offshore the wahoo fishing has been excellent, and a boat yesterday caught 10 fish!

A good day at the reefs with Captain Jay Baisch
A good day at the reefs with Captain Jay Baisch

February 24

Surface water temperatures are in the 40s in Murrells Inlet.

Baisch Boys Bait and Tackle (843-651-1915) has regular and jumbo mud minnows, crappie minnows, fresh shrimp, and a full range of frozen baits. Soon fiddler crabs should be available again.  

Inshore fishing is almost non-existent on the south end of the Grand Strand, as Captain Jay Baisch (843-902-0356) reports that 8 inches of recent rain when the air temperature averaged about 39 degrees have pummeled the fishery by causing water temperatures to plummet. Additionally, with the water already extremely high most boat ramps are unusable, and it’s expected to come up another 2-3 feet with freshwater from the rivers!

There have been a “skeleton crew” of a very few redfish, trout and black drum out at the jetties, and if you can get live shrimp (Perry’s carries them from time to time) those are working well for trout. Grubs and Mirrolures are also good options, and for redfish and black drum fresh cut shrimp are effective. 

When you can get there, at the nearshore reefs in 30-40 feet of water black drum and sheepshead fishing is pretty good, and clams and shrimp have been working in the absence of fiddlers (which should soon be catchable again). 

In about 60 feet of water there starts to be some decent bottom fishing for black sea bass, but the better sea bass as well as grouper, snapper and more are in 80-90 feet. 

February 5

Surface water temperatures are around 49 in Murrells Inlet, and when the weather is decent the water is crystal clear.  

Baisch Boys Bait and Tackle (843-651-1915) has regular and jumbo mud minnows, fresh shrimp, a full range of frozen baits – and has just started carrying crappie minnows!

 A nice mess of pond crappie caught near Murrells Inlet
A nice mess of pond crappie caught near Murrells Inlet

The fishing is pretty tough on the south end of the Grand Strand, and Captain Jay Baisch (843-902-0356) points out that this is probably the result of seasonal factors. For the last couple of years we haven’t had a real winter, but this year we are!

There were only four or five good, fishable days with sunshine in January, and this week on the one decent day the various area guides reported extremely slow catches. There are a couple of trout, black drum and redfish in Murrells Inlet – but not many. Pawley’s and Litchfield have a bit warmer water so the fishing is a hair better there, but not much. 

On a recent calm day Jay managed to get 25 miles offshore where he caught a bunch of keeper black sea bass as well as some grouper and red snapper which they had to let go. 

The fishing in the Gulf Stream has been decent when you can get offshore, with the wahoo fishing the best thing going. There are also a few blackfin tuna around as well as some billfish, and on a recent trip one captain had a marlin try to eat a blackfin as they were pulling it in. You could also get lucky and pick up a dolphin but they are very scarce. 

January 22

Surface water temperatures are in the low 50s in Murrells Inlet and the water is very clear when the weather is decent.

Baisch Boys Bait and Tackle (843-651-1915) has regular and jumbo mud minnows, fresh shrimp, and a full range of frozen baits. 

The water has gotten so cold on the south end of the Grand Strand that there frankly aren’t that many fish feeding inshore, but Captain J Baisch (843-902-0356) reports that there are a few trout in Murrells Inlet while the Litchfield and Pawley’s areas are a bit more productive.  Look for fish in 3-4 feet of water along grass banks; the last few hours of the outgoing tide have been productive.  Live bait and grubs will both work. You can also troll Mirrolures, but regardless of how you fish you are having to put in some time to catch them.  

While there don’t seem to be many trout at the Murrells Inlet jetties, redfish and black drum are both there. You can also catch a few of both species inshore on live or dead shrimp, while with mud minnows you will mainly catch redfish. In the Murrells Inlet area there are not too many dolphins forcing them to get into very skinny water and so you can catch fish around most live or dead shell banks.  A warm afternoon low tide is best and gets the fish more active. 

Black drum wander more and so they will be found around sand ripples as well as shell. 

There are also tautog at the jetties which are delicious and only around for a brief period. They eat the same crustaceans as sheepshead. Because they are here from Northern waters for such a short time there are no South Carolina limits on this species.

At the nearshore reefs and shipwrecks there are still a few weakfish around as well as plenty of black drum. At night the black drum fishing can be spectacular.  There are also some sheepshead starting to stack up as they arrive to spawn.

While the nearshore reefs have millions of little black sea bass, you need to get out 15-16 miles to catch keeper ones. Meanwhile the bigger ones are out 35-40 miles, where there is also good bottom fishing for a variety of species including triggerfish and vermillion snapper. 120 feet is covered up in illegal grouper and snapper. 

When you can get out to about 70 miles there are wahoo and blackfin tuna around.

A nice one caught last week with Captain J. Baisch
A nice one caught last week with Captain J. Baisch

January 14

Surface water temperatures are around 56 degrees in Murrells Inlet and the water is very clear when the weather is decent.

Baisch Boys Bait and Tackle (843-651-1915) has regular and jumbo mud minnows, live finger mullet (sometimes), blood worms, fresh shrimp, salt clam, and a full range of frozen baits. 

The trout fishing is pretty good on the south end of the Grand Strand, and Captain J Baisch (843-902-0356) reports that even though shrimp are very hard to get right now (and would be dynamite) floating mud minnows under a cork is also working. There are not a lot of trout in Murrells Inlet but both the Litchfield and Pawley’s areas have trout, and someone weighed a big 7-pounder at the store this week.  Look for fish in 3-4 feet of water along grass banks; the last few hours of the outgoing tide have been productive.  You can also troll Mirrolures, but regardless of how you fish you are having to put in some time to catch them.  

While there don’t seem to be many trout at the Murrells Inlet jetties, redfish and black drum are both there. You can also catch both species inshore on live or dead shrimp, while with mud minnows you will mainly catch redfish. In the Murrells Inlet area there are not too many dolphins forcing them to get into very skinny water and so you can catch fish around most live or dead shell banks.  A warm afternoon low tide is best and gets the fish more active. 

Black drum wander more and so they will be found around sand ripples as well as shell. 

There are also tautog at the jetties which are delicious and only around for a brief period.  Because they are here from Northern waters for such a short time there are no South Carolina limits on this species.

At the nearshore reefs like the 3-Mile and Pawley’s Island there are still a few weakfish around as well as plenty of black drum. At night the black drum fishing can be spectacular.  There are also some sheepshead but there will be more in the coming weeks and months as they arrive to spawn.

While the nearshore reefs have millions of little black sea bass, you need to get out 15-16 miles to catch keeper ones. Meanwhile the bigger ones are out 35-40 miles, where there is also good bottom fishing for a variety of species including triggerfish and vermillion snapper. 120 feet is covered up in illegal grouper and snapper. 

Yesterday Captain J made it out 70 miles where they caught a big 50-pound wahoo and lost several more. They also got blackfin tuna and one small dolphin. 

Captain J and co with a big wahoo caught yesterday

 

Captain J and co with a big wahoo caught yesterday

December 20

Surface water temperatures have dropped into the lower 50s in Murrells Inlet and the water is starting to clear when there is not too much rain or wind. Baisch Boys Bait and Tackle (843-651-1915) has regular and jumbo mud minnows, live finger mullet (sometimes), live shrimp, blood worms, fresh shrimp, salt clam, and a full range of frozen baits. 

It’s very hard to catch them in local waters, but Captain J Baisch (843-902-0356) reports that it’s hard to go wrong with live shrimp. He is meeting a distributor from Florida to get them, and the trout in particular are devouring shrimp. Fishing live shrimp under a float over shell bottoms, sand ripples and out at the jetties has been very good.

Fish can also be caught trolling Mirrolures and throwing paddletail grubs. 

Red drum and black drum will of course eat the live shrimp, but they are also biting very well on fresh dead head-on shrimp fished over shell bottoms. They are also thick at the jetties. Sheepshead are also grouped up at the jetties but with fiddler crabs basically unavailable anglers are having to resort to other baits. 

There are still some small flounder, and the occasional better one, in the creeks that can be caught on mud minnows.

In the surf there are still plenty of whiting that will eat bloodworms. 

Offshore the wahoo and tuna fishing has been good when anglers can get out.

An impressive catch with Baisch Boys bait
An impressive catch with Baisch Boys bait

November 11

Surface water temperatures are still warm in Murrells Inlet and there continues to be a ton of bait around. Shrimp are prolific and even though mullet are no longer running the beaches there are plenty in the creeks.

Baisch Boys Bait and Tackle (843-651-1915) has regular and jumbo mud minnows, live finger mullet, live shrimp, live fiddler crabs, blood worms, fresh shrimp, salt clam, and a full range of frozen baits. 

Even though water temperatures are well above normal for this time of year, Captain J Baisch (843-902-0356) reports that the migratory fall trout have just started to show up and they are catching very good numbers. The best action has come floating live shrimp 6-8 feet under a float on high tide around oyster bars and current seams. The creeks are holding a lot of fish and there are also some out at the jetties. 

The black drum fishing has also been very strong and fresh, local head-on shrimp have been the ticket for catching them. They are everywhere right now, including over shells, around sand ripples, and in holes. Like wild pigs they are voracious eaters, but also like the pigs just because they are in an area one day is no guarantee they will still be there the next. The Georgetown jetties have been holding a lot of black drum as well as some sheepshead.

They are picking up a few redfish and there are still plenty of good flounder around that can be caught dragging the bottom with mud minnows.  When water temperatures drop most of the mature fish should leave.

A 6.59 pound flounder weighed at Baisch Boys Bait and Tackle
A 6.59 pound flounder weighed at Baisch Boys Bait and Tackle

The spot run never really materialized this fall, but the surf is full of whiting right now. One angler caught 58 on blood worms a couple of days ago! There are also some black drum in the surf but few red drum have been caught. 

While there are probably still some Spanish mackerel and king mackerel around, the ocean has been so rough for the last couple of weeks that it’s been hard to get out there and look. The wahoo bite had been very good but has also been limited by wind. 

October 7

Surface water temperatures are about 73 degrees in Murrells Inlet. Shrimp and finger mullet are prolific, and 7-8 inch mullet as well as huge 2-3 pound fish are migrating down the beaches. 

Baisch Boys Bait and Tackle (843-651-1915) has regular and jumbo mud minnows, live finger mullet, live shrimp, live fiddler crabs, blood worms, fresh shrimp, salt clam, and a full range of frozen baits. 

The strong fall fishing expected to arrive soon by the last report has gotten to the south end of the Grand Strand, and Captain J Baisch (843-902-0356) reports that bigger flounder have definitely moved in. They had fish over 6 pounds weighed in their recent tournament, and right now mullet are definitely the key bait. 

 A couple of big flounder weighed recently at Baisch Boys Bait and Tackle
A couple of big flounder weighed recently at Baisch Boys Bait and Tackle

Spots have also arrived in the inlet, and blood worms on a 2-hook rig are catching coolers full. 

The trout have also arrived, but the pinfish are so bad that fishing for them with shrimp is tough. Artificial lures are working better. 

In the creeks there is decent action for redfish, but overall there are not a lot in the inlet right now. At the tips of the jetties over-slot fish can be caught on mullet or menhaden, and out at live bottom areas such as in 18 feet off Surfside Beach near the Holiday Inn there are true bull reds around as well as tons of weakfish. Cut mullet are the best bait. 

In the surf there are also bluefish everywhere, and there are some keeper red drum being caught on fresh cut mullet. A few pompano are also around and they are catching tons of whiting on blood worms.

At the tips of the jetties there have been a bunch of Spanish mackerel caught, and on live mullet there have been some good ones up to 5 pounds caught at the 3-Mile Reef.  For the last two weeks the king mackerel have been a little slow, but they come and go and should return when the menhaden schools do.

In 90-110 feet bottom fishing for species including grouper has been good, and while there has been the occasional big yellowfin tuna caught more typical catches are 1-2 wahoo, a couple of blackfin and a king.

September 16

Water temperatures are still in the low to mid-80s in Murrells Inlet. Mullet and shrimp are both everywhere and early indications are that it is a good baiting season.

Baisch Boys Bait and Tackle (843-651-1915) has regular and jumbo mud minnows, live finger mullet, live shrimp, live fiddler crabs, blood worms, fresh shrimp, salt clam, and a full range of frozen baits. 

It’s not that the fishing is bad on the south end of the Grand Strand, but Captain J Baisch (843-902-0356) reports that everyone knows that the really good fishing is just around the corner. Even though it is just starting to cool the water is still kind of hot, but already there are signs of what is coming as more trout are starting to show up. With the creeks full of shrimp they are pretty much on a live shrimp bite, but the pinfish are so prolific that it’s just kind of difficult to commit to wading through them right now.  

Similar things are taking places with the flounder, which are pretty much committed to eating finger mullet right now. There are a few more big-20 inchers being caught but the keeper ratio is only just starting to improve. 

Kelly Baisch with a nice flounder caught recently
Kelly Baisch with a nice flounder caught recently

There are also more redfish being caught, and the prolific live mullet are working very well for the reds. They can be fished on the bottom on a Carolina rig or under a float, and artificial lures will also work. There are lots of small rat redfish around that will get to the slot later in the season. 

Black drum are around but they are biting the best on windy, rainy days when the water is a little muddy. They prefer feeding when visibility is not as good.  Live or fresh cut shrimp will both work.  

At the jetties the fishing has been decent for sheepshead as well as some black drum on barnacles and fiddler crabs. 

In the surf a bunch of whiting have been caught as well as a few pompano, and Captain J just heard of the first big red caught in the surf. 

Around the tips of the jetties and out at the 3-Mile Reef and Pawley’s Island Reef the fishing for Spanish mackerel has been good.  If you have several hundred finger mullet with you living chumming will bring them up, but trolling dead cigar minnows is also working very well.  The fishing for king mackerel has been good in 30-100 feet.

 

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