Grand Strand Fishing Report October November 2017
Mike Marsh’s book, Fishing North Carolina, shares his best-kept secrets for fishing 100 lakes, rivers, ponds, sounds and piers.
Fishing North Carolina ($26.60),
Inshore Angler – Carolina’s Small Boat Fishing Guide ($26.20),
Offshore Angler – Coastal Carolina’s Mackerel Boat Fishing Guide ($22.25)
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What to expect when you head out to fish the Grand Strand over the next few weeks. Get a clue from noted outdoor writer Mike Marsh.
Capt. Larry Horowitz (Voyager Deep Sea Fishing and Dolphin Cruises, 843-626-4900) said all his boats would be running, but many of the trips would only be half-day trips due to the cold, winter winds.
"The bottom fishing will be excellent," he said. "Our bottom fishing boats will be catching groupers, beeliners, triggerfish, snappers, sea bass, grunts, and rudderfish. The mates always set live baits on light line rods off the ends of the boats. The live bait lines catch mahi, kings, cobias and sharks. The mates usually hand the light line rods to anglers who have not caught those species. If you have a kid along, make sure he is bottom fishing near a live bait rod and he might get the thrill of a lifetime. We have rods and bait for anglers who don't bring their own."
For a great half-day trip, anglers can catch sharks, bluefish and Spanish mackerel. September is one of the best months for king mackerel trolling, with an all-day trip carrying anglers offshore to the Jungle, 65-foot Hole, Shark Hole or Atlantic Ledge. In the Gulf Stream, anglers troll lures and rigged baits to catch mahi, sailfish, wahoo, blackfin tuna and yellowfin tuna, with perhaps a white or blue marlin striking as well. The big game action will be on fire at the 100/400 and Blackjack. Before heading offshore, anglers should check ocean surface temperature charts to find water temperatures of 74 to 78 degrees.
The Voyager fleet includes the 100-foot Super Voyager, 100-foot Continental Shelf, and 70-foot Starship, 44-foot Striker, 45-foot Long Line and 36-foot Reel Work. The Super Voyager heads offshore every Friday at 9 p.m. for an overnight bottom-fishing trip and the Continental Shelf runs 13-hour bottom-fishing trips every Tuesday and Saturday. The Starship rotates with the party boats to run half-day near shore bottom fishing trips when it is not heading out for an offshore trolling trip. The other boats offer dolphin cruises and trolling trips.
Inshore, adult drum will be biting at the Little River Inlet jetties. Anglers can catch them by fishing with live menhaden and mullet on bottom rigs. Puppy drum and speckled trout will also be on the rocks. Anglers should cast float rigs baited with fresh shrimp or bounce a jig around the jetties.
Spanish mackerel will school inside and outside the inlet. Anglers should watch for birds and baitfish schools to find the fish. Bluefish will mix with the Spanish mackerel by September. Metal casting jigs and spoons are the best lures for blues and Spanish.
Puppy drum and speckled trout will be feeding in the grass beds and oyster beds back in the creeks. Anglers should cast popping floats with Berkley Gulp Shrimp or live shrimp to catch both species, along with an occasional flounder.
Flounder anglers should fish a live mullet or menhaden fished on a bottom rig in a deep hole. The best flounder fishing occurs at Tubbs Inlet, Little River Inlet, Hog Inlet, Calabash Crossroads and Cherry Grove.
Apache Pier, Myrtle Beach
Ashley Turner (Apache Pier, Myrtle Beach, 843-497-6486) said the fish of the month in August is flounder.
"We will see a lot of flounder," she said. "The fishermen will also catch Spanish mackerel, bluefish, pompano and sheepshead."
Now that the end of pier has been repaired anglers will also be able to catch king mackerel. The cover and T at the end are complete and the live bait tank should be finished by August or September.
Flounder fishermen should fish live baits on Carolina rigs. A great way to catch flatfish is dropping a live mud minnow to the bottom on a Carolina rig and walking slowly along the rail, moving the bait by dragging the sinker. If the rail is full of anglers, a good way to move the bait to the fish is by casting it away from the pier and reeling the line back in very slowly. Flounder also strike baits dropped straight down beside the pier pilings.
Sheepshead anglers can often see the fish beside the pilings. Dropping barnacles and fiddler crabs to them should make them strike.
Some of the biggest Spanish mackerel and bluefish of the year will be migrating through the area in
September. The best way to catch them is by casting spoons, Got-cha lures or Mackerel Tree rigs to leaping schools of fish early and late in the day. All it takes to catch them is a spinning rig and a bucket or an ice chest with wheels to carry them home.
The end of September is one of the times of the year to catch multiple species. Bottom fishermen will catch red drum, black drum, pompano, spots and croakers. The best all-around bait is shrimp.
Springmaid Pier, Myrtle Beach
Springmaid Pier sustained major damage from Hurricane Matthew, which struck the first week of October 2016, taking all but 100 feet of the former 1,088-foot pier. Officials closed the pier to access until further notice. The pier's owner, Hilton Doubletree, intends to rebuild the pier. Watch this report for updates on the pier's reconstruction progress in future issues. Hilton Doubletree Resort reopened for lodging.
Capt. Jay Baisch (Fishfull Thinking Guide Service, 843-902-0356) said anglers should find sheepshead fishing at the near shore reefs and fiddler crabs are the best bait for catching them.
"At the inlet, the rocks will hold Spanish mackerel, sheepshead, black drum, red drum and bluefish," September is a great month for catching everything."
Spanish mackerel will hit trolled spoons and casting spoons. Bluefish will mix in with the Spanish mackerel, but can create headaches for anglers who are casting jigs with plastic grub trailers to the rocks because they bite off the tails. Anytime bluefish are around, anglers should switch to metal spoons, jigs or hard plastic lures, use heavy monofilament leaders or wire leaders, or head for another spot.
Fishing barnacles or fiddler crabs on the bottom should produce lots of sheepshead and a few black drum. Scraping barnacles off the rocks is a good way to chum up the fish when the tide is low.
Red drum anglers should watch for baitfish in the creeks and bays. Redfish will be on grass beds, deep holes and oyster beds. The best bait is a live mullet fished on a Carolina rig or a jig head.
Gulf flounder with gather at the reefs where fishing live mullet on bottom rigs will snag them. Anglers heading for the Paradise, Pawley's, 10-Mile and 11-Mile reefs will also catch king mackerel and Spanish mackerel in abundance. The best way to catch them is by trolling live menhaden on live-bait rigs. Trolling back and forth between the 10-mile and 11-mile reefs is a good tactic for catching these big pelagic species.
Bottom fishing for sea bass, groupers and grunts will get better up as the water becomes cooler in September. Jigs and cut baits such as cigar minnow, sardines and squid are the best bottom fish baits.
Capt. Mike McDonald (Gul-R-Boy Guide Service, 843-546-3625) said in the Winyah Bay area, winter weather would send the fish into shallow water.
"The hotter the weather, the better the tarpon fishing gets," he said. "The tarpon will stay through August and the first part of September. Back in Winyah Bay, red drum, trout, flounder and black drum will be hitting lures. You might catch just about anything by casting a D.O.A.C.A.L soft plastic trailer or Haw River grub on any color jig head around the grass beds and oyster reefs."
Red drum will be in small schools. Anglers should be able to see them working along the grass bed edges during the higher tides, but they will be harder to spot in the deeper holes during the lower tides. When they are along the grass bed edges, a topwater lure is a good choice. Good topwater lures include the Zara Spook, Top Dog and Skitter Walk series. Live mullet fished on bottom rigs are the best bet when they are in the deep holes.
Trout will also blow up on the same topwater lures. Nevertheless, the best bet for trout is a live shrimp or a Berkley Gulp Shrimp fished on a float rig.
Flounder will be lurking in the deeper holes and on the oyster beds. Float rigs and bottom rigs baited with live mullet are the ticket to catching them.
Black drum will also be working the oyster beds. If an angler hooks a black drum on an artificial lure, he should switch to shrimp and or fiddler crabs to lots of black drum from that same spot.
At the inlets, anglers should troll spoons to catch Spanish mackerel and bluefish. Live minnows fished at the base of the rocks will tempt flounder and redfish. Barnacles and mole crabs fished at the base of the rocks will tantalize catch black drum and sheepshead.
CAPT. MIKE McDONALD, GUL-R-BOY GUIDE SERVICE