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Capt. Mark Dickson (Shallow Minded Inshore Charters, 843-458-3055) said flounder fishing would pick up.
“We always look forward to catching flounder at Tubbs Inlet and Shallotte River,” he said. When the small pogies go in there, the flounder will follow them. If the pogies are too small to use for bait, we use tiger minnows or mud minnows. The bigger flounder will show up in May.”
May is also one of the best months for catching speckled trout. Some of the biggest trout of the year, which can weigh 8 or 9 pounds, have been caught at that time. The best way to catch specks is by casting a live shrimp on float rig.
Spanish mackerel fishermen will be trolling for fish along the beach in May. The Atlantic bonito and false albacore show up first and then mix with the Spanish mackerel soon thereafter. The inshore reefs, including the Jim Caudle reef are also good bets for finding these schooling fish.
Redfish will be tailing in the grass in May, where anglers will catch them on just about anything they throw. However, in April when the fiddler crabs are molting, Dickson catches them on pieces of soft-shelled crabs tied inside nylon stockings. A quarter-sized crab ball is hooked on a 3/0 circle hook tied to the line with a short leader. Anglers should find a flat near areas the drum are working the crabs and set out five or six lines.
Another way to catch them is to head for the hard areas at the marsh edges on the lunar high tides. Dickson said he has caught them feeding beneath the oak trees. Fly-fishing is an exciting way to catch them when the fish are showing in the shallows.
Spadefish will be at the near shore wrecks. Jelly balls are the best spadefish bait. King mackerel and cobia will also make an appearance at near shore wrecks and reefs. At the jetty, anglers will catch sheepshead using barnacles or fiddler crabs for bait.
Deon Grainger (Apache Pier, Myrtle Beach, 843-497-6486) said anglers should catch a variety of fish, with some of the bigger game fish showing up in spring.
“The king mackerel usually show up around the end of April and stay around most of the summer and fall,” she said. “We will also start seeing some cobia in May. Anglers catch a cobia every now and then while they are fishing for kings.”
The pier has a live bait tank for anglers who are fishing for big game fish. Anglers use pinfish, croakers, bluefish or any other small fish as bait for kings and cobia.
While the cobia are the largest fish anglers can land at the pier, it is the smaller fish that attract the most fishermen. In April when the water is stool cool, whiting, black drum, croaker and bluefish will be schooling. Anglers can catch multiple species using shrimp for bait. However, the bluefish also mix with the first runs of Spanish mackerel. When anglers see these fish jumping chasing baitfish on the surface, they catch them by casting with multiple hook rigs, jerk lures and spoons.
Beginning in May, the pier sells mud minnows, which are great baits for catching flounder and bluefish.
Keith Carter (Springmaid Pier, Myrtle Beach, 843-315-7156) said the warm weather would bring all kinds of fish to the pier
“Our Spanish mackerel fishing really kicks off in April and May,” he said. The blues arrive with the Spanish mackerel. Anglers like to use jig rigs with seven gold hooks for catching Spanish and blues. The rigs are made locally.”
Other fish arriving in spring include whiting, pompano and flounder. Sometime in April, a good run of small spots arrives. Croakers may bite at any time. For catching these bottom fish the pier sells squid, shrimp and mullet to use as bait.
Sheepshead fishermen target the fish with more species-specific baits. The fish eat crustaceans, so sheepshead angler use barnacles scraped from piling to catch them.
King mackerel and cobia may make an appearance. King fishermen use spinning rigs to catch small bottom fish and keep them alive in baskets lowered to the water.
Capt. Jay Baisch (Fishfull Thinking Guide Service, 843-902-0356) said the near shore fishing would be excellent.
“The flounder will bite as soon as the grass starts breaking up,” he said. “Before that, the grass makes it hard to fish because it fouls your bottom rigs.”
The best way to catch flounder is by fishing a live minnow on a bottom rig or on a jig head. Redfish will also strike live baits fished on the bottom. As the water warms, the tips of the jetties host some red-hot redfish action. When the fish are on the rocks, cut shrimp, fiddler crabs and soft plastic grubs on jig heads will catch them. Anglers who use fiddler crabs to catch sheepshead will also have strikes from redfish. Another fish that will strike fiddler crabs is the black drum.
Spanish mackerel and bluefish will show up around the jetties and at the artificial reefs in May. Trolling or casting spoons and jigs are great methods of catching them. Cobia and kings will also show up in May at the 3-mile, 10-mile and 11-mile reefs. Anglers will also catch cobia on wrecks, hard bottoms and sea buoys. Anywhere there is structure anglers should be on the lookout for cobia. Anglers can anchor their boats and float live baits or frozen cigar minnows on balloon rigs our use slow-trolling tactics to catch cobia and king mackerel.
Capt. Mike McDonald (Gul-R-Boy Guide Service, 843-546-3625) said that Winyah Bay area anglers will be seeing spots.
“The spot-tails will be scattering all around and getting into their summer pattern,” he said. “They will start schooling by age and size as soon as the weather starts getting warmer. A red drum lives in 18 inches of water most of his life, so anglers should be fishing in shallow water.”
Red drum will be hovering above oyster beds, drop-offs and grassy edges. Anglers can catch them by casting live bait on float rigs or by tossing jig heads with soft plastic grub trailers.
Speckled trout will also strike grubs or live shrimp fished on float rigs. By May, the warmer weather will also turn on the topwater action for both redfish and speckled trout. Zara Spooks, Top Pups, Skitter Walks and similar walk-the-dog lures are the best for topwater backwater action.
Around the jetties, anglers should catch some small bluefish. Jetty jumpers will also catch some flounder, sheepshead, black drum and red drum. For catching sheepshead and black drum, anglers should use barnacles and sand fiddlers for bait.
A few small flounder may show up at North Inlet. A few small flounder will show up on April, with the larger fish moving in May.