GRAND STRAND FISHING REPORT | April – May 2014

April 1st, 2014

Mike Marsh’s new book, Fishing North Carolina covers every detail for fishing 100 rivers, lakes, sounds, piers and beaches. Fishing North Carolina ($26.60 ppd.), Inshore Angler – Coastal Carolina’s Small Boat Fishing Guide ($26.20) and “Offshore Angler – Carolina’s Mackerel Boat Fishing Guide” ($22.25) are available by check or M.O. to Mike Marsh, 1502 Ebb Dr., Wilmington, NC 28409. For credit card orders or more hunting and fishing information visit www.mikemarshoutdoors.com.

 

Little River

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.

 

 

Apache Pier

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.

 

Springmaid Pier

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.

Murrells Inlet

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.

 

Georgetown

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.

 

 

GRAND STRAND FISHING REPORT | JAN – MAR 2014

February 10th, 2014

Mike Marsh’s new book, Fishing North Carolina covers every detail for fishing 100 rivers, lakes, sounds, piers and beaches. Fishing North Carolina ($26.60 ppd.), Inshore Angler – Coastal Carolina’s Small Boat Fishing Guide ($26.20) and “Offshore Angler – Carolina’s Mackerel Boat Fishing Guide” ($22.25) are available by check or M.O. to Mike Marsh, 1502 Ebb Dr., Wilmington, NC 28409. For credit card orders or more hunting and fishing information visit www.mikemarshoutdoors.com.

 

Little River

Capt. Mark Dickson (Shallow Minded Inshore Charters, 843-458-3055) said speckled trout action would be heating up.

“We will mostly be catching speckled trout,” he said. “It’s mainly weather-driven fishing. But, if the weather is nice, the fishing will be good.”

Trout will bite well at theCochinaHarborarea and at the littleRiverSwingBridge. Good lures included the Voodoo Shrimp, D.O.A. Shrimp and Gulp Swimming Mullet on a 1/8-ounce jig head.

Redfish will school up in the shallows. But anglers will need a poling skiff to get back to the fish that head far into the headwaters of the creeks. Anglers should try sight fishing with a gold spoon fly, Copperhead Fly or red and white Clouser minnow cast with fly tackle or a Gulp Shrimp New Penny Shrimp on a 1/8-ounce jig head or swimming mullet cast on baitcasting or spinning gear. By March, mud minnows will be in the backwaters and these great baitfish can be captured in cast nets. In late March, soft-shell crabs tied inside bags cut from panty hose will work as redfish bait.

Black drum will bite shrimp fished on the bottom at theSunsetBeachBridgeand at the Little River Inlet jetties. Sheepshead will bite at the Jim Caudle and General Sherman reefs, where clams will be the best baits. Any reef within seven miles of the beach and some of the unmarked wrecks in less than 90 feet of water will also hold sheepshead.

 

Apache Pier

Charity Rollins (Apache Pier,Myrtle Beach, 843-497-6486) said anglers should catch a variety of finfish, but whiting will offer the best action.

“We catch whiting all year round,” she said. “But they are our most dependable fish when the weather is cold.”

Along with the whiting, croakers may stick around through into the colder months, but will not bite as dependably as the whiting. Croakers are usually caught as part of a mixed bag in coolers filled with whiting. A few spots may also be around.

As January’s chill gives way to warmer water temperatures, other species migrate back to the area. Black drum and red drum are among the first game fish to return to the pier. The catches of both drum species pick up well during the first warm spells in March.

Speckled trout may bite off and on through the winter. In February the bite picks up and by the end of March, a lot more specks will be pecking.

The best baits for all species include shrimp, cut mullet and sand fleas. All of these baits are available at the pier house.

 

Springmaid Pier

Leo Vereen (Springmaid Pier,Myrtle Beach, 843-315-7156) said fishing will be slow, but on good weather days, catching a few fish for supper was still possible.

In January and February, we will see mostly croakers and whiting,” he said. “In March, there will be a few speckled trout and the black drum bite will be good.”

By late March, the bluefish will start moving in and the whiting bite turns on, with the biggest bull whiting moving through in large schools.

The best bait is shrimp fished on bottom rigs. But bucktail jigs tipped with shrimp will work best for speckled trout.

Murrells Inlet

Sheepshead fishing will be good at the near shore reefs. Fiddler crabs will be the best baits for sheepshead.

At the inlet, anglers should catch black drum using fiddler crabs and shrimp as bait.

Back in the creeks, red drum and speckled trout will bite slowly in January and February, but more strongly as the weather warms up. Good places to catch them areOak Creekand Marlin Quay Marina.

The best ways to catch red drum and speckled trout are by trolling or casting with MirrOlures and twisty-tailed grubs on jig heads. The channel edges are the best places. Any place with hard structure such as jetties, seawalls, marina basins and bridges should hold some fish.

On calm days, anglers can head offshore to catch king mackerel, which will strike spoons, live baits and frozen baits. Anglers should find water temperatures in the upper 60s or more and try to located baitfish schools. The best water temperatures can be found by searching online for temperature charts.

 

Georgetown

Capt. Mike McDonald (Gul-R-Boy Guide Service, 843-546-3625) said the speckled trout fishing will be spotty but the spot-tail bite will be spot-on.

“The redfish will be biting well in water that is 18 inches or less in depth,” he said. “But the specks will be in water that is seven to 12 feet deep. Black drum will be biting on the oyster reefs at the inside creeks.”

The best bait for catching red and black drum is shrimp. Speckled trout are suckers for soft plastics and MirrOlures, with the 52M sinking series a good bet for trout fishing at the Winyah jetties.

“When it is cold, look for the shallow flats where redfish and speckled trout can get into the water that is a little bit warmer,” he said. “You want to find them before casting and you might find some big schools. But, catching more than one to three fish will spook them when they are on a flat. The worst thing you can do is run through them with a flats boat because that will ruin your future fishing.”

McDonald instead locates a school, then backs off to the nearest deep hole and waits for the falling tide to bring the fish to him.

“They have to go to the holes when the tide falls and then you can catch more fish and release them and it won’t spook them,” he said. “Another thing to look for in those deeper places in the creeks is a school of big mullet. The mullet stir up small prey like shrimp and minnows and the reds hover on top of them, waiting for the easy meal. When a redfish rushes in, the mullet spook up. I’ve seen red dots on the bellies of red drum made from the dorsal spines of mullet. I even saw a mullet spine sticking in the belly of a red drum.”

 

 

May Fishing By Capt. Gus Gustafson

July 24th, 2013


The Zara Spook from Heddon Lures, www.HeddonLures.com.

May is considered by many to be the best month of the year to fish on area lakes. The biggest reason is that the fish are in shallow water and easy to catch. Great fishing aside, the weather is usually so beautiful that just being on the water is enjoyable.

Spring fishing peaks in May, particularly for bass and crappie. It’s a time when bass limits of five per angler can be caught early in the day. As the sun gets higher in the sky, anglers find ample time to seek out bedding bass.

Unlike bass fishermen who practice catch and release, those who target crappie usually keep what they catch, up to the creel limit of twenty (eight inches or larger) fish per day. Those fishing for white perch enjoy catching two, three or more at a time of this popular pan fish.

Shallow water fishing for bass using top water lures is exciting. Most anglers agree that there isn’t anything more thrilling than to see a bass explode on a top water lure. Favorites with Lake Norman fishermen are Zara Spooks, buzz baits, flukes and any bait that pops, gurgles or spins.

Crappie can be found early in the month swimming close to relatively shallow (10’ – 20’) submerged brush piles. Those fishing with small minnows or crappie jigs (1/32 to 1/8th ounce) should expect lots of action. While both bass and perch are aggressive by nature, the passive crappie is often slow to make up its mind to bite. So take your time, fish each brush pile thoroughly, and allow plenty of time for the fish to eat the bait.

White perch begin leaving the shorelines in mid-May to form rather large schools that feast on shad and other small baitfish. Perch are easily located if your boat is equipped with a depth finder. If not, they can be found while slow trolling or drifting crappie minnows. Once located, toss a marker buoy over the side, and fish the general area thoroughly.

Tip from Capt. Gus:

Spring is a good time to fish near the poles that support Lake Norman’s channel, shoal and rock markers. Since most are positioned in shallow water, they are excellent hangouts for bass and other game fish.

Capt. Gus Gustafson of Lake Norman Ventures is an outdoor columnist and a full-time professional fishing guide. For more information, visit www.FishingWithGus.com or call 704-617-6812.