by Capt. Paul Rose, carolinebonefishing.com
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.
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.
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 www.visitmyrtlebeach.com for details.
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.
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.
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.
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!