Even though it is only March, Captain J of Fishful Thinking Guide Service (843-902-0356) reports that he has seen more flounder around Murrells Inlet so far this season than he can ever remember seeing this early in the year. While a lot of them are small, as is customary early in the year, there are also a good number of keepers mixed in. Captain J says it is the best start to the flounder season in recent years, and it should only get better, as more and more fish return inshore as the water warms. Additionally, as the water warms the “snot grass” that can make fishing difficult seems to disconnect, and then anglers won’t be having to clean their line all the time. The best pattern is fishing mud minnows on a Carolina rig or jighead.
Perry’s Bait Tackle (843-651-2895) in Murrells Inlet concurs that flounder season is off to a hot start, and anglers are reporting catching fish in all of their usual spots. Amazingly, they have now had keepers weighed in at the store for four weeks in a row – and it’s still March! The last two hours of the rising tide and the last couple of hours before dead low seem to be the best time. The Grand Strand Saltwater Anglers Association will have their annual flounder tournament on April 23, and even though it is earlier than usual it looks like the fish should already be where they need to be.
Redfish: Fair. Captain J reports that redfish are still kind of schooled up from the winter, and they can be caught on pieces of cut shrimp fished on the bottom. The best bet is to cast out 4 or 5 rods around oysters and wait. The last two hours of the of the outgoing is almost always the best tide in the early spring, as water temperatures are 1 or 2 degrees warmer then. Perry’s reports that slot-sized redfish have been caught on the main channel of Murrells Inlet in the past couple of days around docks to the south of Marlin Quay Marina.
Trout: Fair. Perry’s reports that some nice keeper sized trout have been caught in the 20-21 inch range. Trout have been caught on the southern end of Oaks Creek, in and around the oyster shell recycling area, and around Pawley’s Island. Houdini-colored Zman paddle-tailed grubs, DOA shrimp in clear with gold fleck colors, and Vudu Shrimp in more natural colors have all been working. Captain J. also suggests a Mirrolure suspending twitch bait right now.
Surf and Pier Report: For the longest time only pufferfish and dogfish/ small sharks were being caught, but in the last few days the first reports of bluefish as well as whiting have come in. Some juvenile flounder have also been caught off the piers as well as small black drum. On the falling tide some bull red drum have been caught around the Murrells Inlet jetties on the falling tide on chunks of fresh cut mullet.
Nearshore: Captain J reports that large weakfish and snapper-sized bluefish have started to show up at the nearshore reefs including the 3-Mile, the Pawley’s Island Reef and Paradise Reef. Live minnows or big 1 ounce jigs/ ¾ ounce jigheads and grubs fished just off the bottom are working.