November 3rd, 2010

by Capt. Paul Rose,

Summer came on quickly with high temperatures and humidity arriving earlier and seemingly lasting longer. Fishing was good on most accounts particularly early and late. But now the transition from the dog days of summer to early fall is upon us, creating exciting and pleasant times to be out on the water.

Predator fish become very active and aggressive all day long, chasing fall bait runs to prepare for the approaching winter. Opportunities for any number of popular species exists right now so burn those last few vacation days and enjoy some great fishing. There is plenty of water at the coast plus wind, tide and ever-changing conditions. Hiring a guide is best in the salt the first time out. Here is what the experts have to say.

Little River/Myrtle Beach

Capt. Patrick Kelly (843-361-7445) has a hard time containing his enthusiasm when he talks fishing this time of year. Big red drum take center stage with fish up to 50 inches being caught as the big females move in to spawn. Focus efforts near the ends of jetties in water of 30-feet. These big holes will hold fish but the bait has to stay on the bottom. Drift live mullet on Carolina-rigs and with bottom rigs, adjusting weights accordingly based on the tide pull.

The tidal creeks and bays will also have plenty of puppy drum and trout taking Gulp baits. Tides of 5.5 feet or more will have reds moving up onto grass flats, gorging on crabs. Anglers can enjoy this great sight fishing by wading quietly around on these hard bottom flats and casting out in front of tailing fish. Tailing refers to fish in the head down position rooting for food while the tail breaks the surface. Flies and soft plastics will work just fine with accurate casting being the key.

Pier Fishing

The early fall is a special time for heading out to any number of piers. With fall bait runs, plenty of gamefish come close to shore offering pier anglers fantastic action for a variety of species.
If you’re a nonangler, certain events are happening you may want to check out. Live music and fireworks will be going off Labor Day at the Apache Pier. Have some fun and spend some quality time with your youngster fishing from the Myrtle Beach Fishing Piers on Take a Kid Fishing Day, October 23. All piers in the Grand Strand will be participating in this event sponsored by the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce. Awards will be presented at each pier in some various “fishy” categories!

If you don’t have your own fishing gear, all needed equipment will be provided. Space is limited and pre-registration is required, so sign up early! Registration begins mid-September for the October 23rd event.

You can also enter your pier catch September 17 through 19 during the fall King Mackerel Tournament. This event is a great time to see the experts try to land one of these trophies from the pier. Check out for details.

Apache Pier

Deon at Apache Pier (843-497-6486) reports excellent fishing for good numbers of sheepshead, spot and flounder. Shrimp is a great all round bait whether using Carolina-rigs or tipping a casting jig. On windy days, heavier bucktails or silver jigs will give you the weight for casting distance at fat blues and Spanish out away from the pier itself.

Sinking plugs are also a good choice in white/red or blue for bluefish and silver always seems to attract the Spanish. For flounder, add a curly tail grub to a jig lead head to slow the lures fall while using an up and down retrieving motion. Piers anglers also report great catches of spots, a tasty eating saltwater panfish. Try bloodworms but be sure to use small pieces of bait on small hook to improve hook-ups. Reds are present on cut baits on bottom rigs with mullet baits. Try pyramid style sinkers to keep help keep baits on the bottom better rather round sinkers.

SpringMaid Pier

Fall migratory runs of Spanish and blues are underway with plenty of action on jig rigs. Spots are also filling coolers; again bloodworms are the choice bait. Redfish, trout and drum are providing mixed bags being caught on Carolina rigged bait, spoons and grubs bounced near the pilings. If bait stealing pinfish and crabs are becoming troublesome, try long strips of squid. This bait is tough and works very well for flounder and reds. Double hooked these strips for casting to Spanish and blues. Small pieces of crab will grab sheepshead and live crabs are best for black drum.

Murrell’s Inlet

Capt. Jay Biesch (843-902-0356) is tuned in to the area offering anglers trips inshore, near shore and offshore. Both Southern and Gulf flounder are being caught at both the inlet and on local reefs using live mullet and mud minnows. Runs of tasty spots are also being taken on bloodworms using simple two hook rigs. Kings ranging from 10 to 30 lbs are being caught on trolled cigar minnows or menhaden baits near deeper, off-shore structure.

Bluefish are still in the surf, chomping baitfish schools to pieces with hungry redfish below eating the scraps. Even shore anglers can have very productive days this time of year by locating these marauding bluefish schools. Simply watch and wait along shoreline structure and beachfronts for diving birds then start casting.

Big bull reds are moving in to spawn and are being caught on mullet around the jetty. Inshore drum, trout and flounder are active on soft plastics and float rigs in and around creek points and bends. Try covering plenty of water looking for activity then slow down, fishing these areas more thoroughly.

Georgetown Area

Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Charters (843-546-3625) is happy to see heat indexes above 110 this summer drift away. With the cooler temperatures, fishing has turned on. Trout, flounder and redfish are all present and being taken on any number of baits. The early topwater bite is strong with lead head rigged grubs and curly tails working well throughout the day.

Cut baits like menhaden or mullet will work well for the bait guys and Clousers will work fine for the fly guys. Big mature bull reds are present on the jetties but require a little more rod to safely land and release these trophies.

Work the deeper holes with stout tackle and heavy weights to keep the bait in the zone. Large runs of mullet are present up to 5 pounds, which make excellent bait, whether live, or as cut bait. Cast nets work best for getting these fish to the boat and remember, mullet make excellent table fare. Mike suggests to either “fry it or screw it up.”

Go get ‘em!


November 3rd, 2010

by Capt. Butch Foster

King Mackerel on the East coast is one of the more sought after fish that swims in the seas. There is usually not a weekend that goes by in the summertime when there isn’t a King Mackerel Tournament being held along the coast of North and South Carolina.

So, with that being said, let’s see if I can share a few tricks that might help you catch more King Mackerel!

Let’s start with bait. It is a subject that if you ask ten people you will most likely get the thumbs up by most for live bait. I will have to agree, especially near shore! Also, the larger King Mackerel seem to prefer live bait. Now that isn’t written in stone, just seems that way to me.

Live pogys is the preferred bait for King Mackerel in my area. You can find these sometimes by watching the Pelicans diving on them when feeding. A Pelican will dive hard on Pogys , If you see a Pelican dive and kinda’ “flop,” most likely it’s small minnows. Also, at times Pogys can be very skittish and you will have to cut your engines off and wait for them to surface.

Usually when they are like this, you will just see a single “flip” on the surface. Be ready with your cast net and cast on that flip immediately. You will need a good net that sinks fast and I would suggest no smaller than 8 foot and I like a 5/8 mesh. Just remember this: a 6-foot is better than a 10-foot if you can get it to open fully. But, if you can get a 10-foot to open fully, you will be the man!

I have found though that if I am going offshore, most of the time frozen cigar minnows will do just as good, and this can sometimes add a lot of fishing time when the Pogys are hard to find! The cigar minnow is a natural bait on offshore structures where King Mackerel like to gather, which is the reason they work so good most of the time.

There are two different approaches to pulling the two different baits that I feel need to be addressed here. Doing this will improve your catching by making your baits more attractive to the Kings.

Live baits need to be trolled as slow as you can or drifted when the situation lets you, on a “Live Bait Rig”. The trick here is to not “stress” your live baits by pulling them so fast that they can’t keep up with the boat. Pulling so fast that you are jerking them makes them look un-natural, plus it tires your pogys out and this eventually kills them. Not good!

The frozen cigar minnow can be made almost irresistible by pulling him on a lead head type set up. My favorite is the “PIRATE PLUG” made by South Chatham Tackle Co. I feel it can’t be beat!

If you are interested in tying and/or rigging your own, you can go to my “Fishing Report” page @ and see videos on how to tie all the above rigs.

One of the first and most important steps to catching King Mackerel is in getting quality baits and making them look as natural and appealing to the fish as possible.

So, next time you are fishing next to you buddy and he is “smoking the Kings” and you aren’t getting a bite, look at your bait. That could be the difference!

Big Tuna: The Old Fish House

November 3rd, 2010

by Susan Shinn – Special Correspondent

Looking for a fun, casual restaurant where the locals go?

In Georgetown, S.C., that’s The Old Fish House, aka Big Tuna, located at 807 Front St. The restaurant is a part of Georgetown’s historic and scenic waterfront area.

“We do have some dock space available,” says Angie Watkins, who owns the restaurant with husband Bucky. Boats can also tie up as well.

The restaurant is itself an historic building. You’ll see lots of old wood and salvaged materials.
“It has a very rustic feel,” Watkins says.

History is the name of the game in this port town, the intersection of five rivers, the third oldest city in South Carolina after Charleston and Beaufort.

The couple started the restaurant nine years ago. Bucky Watkins had been in the restaurant business previously.

Watkins is proud of the fact that everything is homemade, from scratch, and the prices are reasonable.

The restaurant serves appetizers, sandwiches, salads and entrees, priced from $5 to $19.
“We have a huge local following,” Watkins notes. “Our business is mainly local business.”
She adds, “We also get a lot of boat traffic, including transient fall boaters.”

Watkins is looking forward to the Wooden Boat Show on Oct. 16, which takes place on Front Street.
“It’s a very family oriented, big, fun day,” she says.

The restaurant is one of the event’s many sponsors.

Visitors to the boat show will likely want to stop in at Big Tuna for a meal. The menu features calamari, clams, shrimp cocktail, crab cocktail, oyster cocktail, seared tuna and the soup of the day under appetizers.

There are cheeseburgers, chicken sandwiches, Italian sausage sandwiches, fried fish sandwiches and steak sandwiches.

Fried shrimp, fried oysters, crab legs, fried scallops, a seafood platter and ribeye steak round out the entree menu.

Watkins says that the most popular entree is the whole fried flounder.

Folks love the sides of black beans and rice – her husband’s own recipe – and slaw, also homemade.
“We don’t buy any packaged anything,” Watkins says. “We buy all the fresh fish we can get our hands on.”

The crab cake special is also a bit hit with customers.

Going into the fall, the Big Tuna will feature local roasted oysters.

For a small restaurant, the Big Tuna boasts a full bar which includes a nice wine list, a full selection of ice-cold beers and top-shelf alcohol, Watkins says.