Grand Strand Fishing Report October-December 2021
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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 the fishing in October is excellent from the inlets all the way out to the Gulf Stream.
"October is one of our best fishing months," he said. "The water gets cooler and the fishing for groupers, beeliners, snappers, triggerfish, jacks and African pompano is fantastic during our all-day bottom fishing trips. If you want to take only a half-day trip, you will be catching some nice sea bass, porgies, ringtails, grunts and many other good eating fish after heading out only 5 or 10 miles."
For anglers who want to take an offshore trolling trip to the Gulf Stream, the fishing will be excellent for meat fish and big game fish all along the continental break. The Steeples is a good place to troll. Anglers will catch wahoo, tuna, mahi, blue and white marlin and sailfish.
On the half-day trolling trips, fishing will be great for king mackerel and Spanish mackerel at the 65-foot Hole, The Jungle and any of the many other good live bottom areas.
The Super Voyager heads offshore every Friday at 9 p.m. for an overnight bottom-fishing trip while 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 offshore for a trolling trip. The full fishing schedule is available at www.voyagersportfishingcharters.com.
Apache Pier, Myrtle Beach
Lynn Galloway (Apache Pier, 843-497-6486) said the finest fishing flips on the switch in October.
“The fishing will be excellent for sheepshead, whiting, spots, croakers, flounder, pompano, bluefish, king mackerel and Spanish mackerel,” she said. “As the water cools down, we should see catches of just about everything, with October an especially great month for red drum.”
Sheepshead will bite fiddler crabs and barnacles fished near the pilings. Red drum and pompano will bite shrimp and mole crabs fished in the surf. Flounder will strike mud minnows fished anywhere along the pier. A good run of spots and croakers should occur in October if conditions are right and it may continue into November. These small bottom fish eat bloodworms, shrimp and Fish Bites artificial strips.
Pier anglers who want to catch Spanish mackerel and bluefish should cast Mackerel Trees, jerk lures and jigging spoons. When the fish are jumping near the pier, anglers can jig spoons and lures up and down rather than making long casts, preventing tangles with other anglers’ lines. The best time to fish for these schooling fish is early in the morning or late in the afternoon when they are leaping all around the end of the pier.
To catch kings and the bigger Spanish mackerel, pier anglers use trolley rigs to slide live baitfish down to the water and hold them in place. The best baits for king mackerel and big Spanish mackerel are bluefish and pinfish.
The pier sells live mud minnows, night crawlers, red worms and blood worms, frozen mullet and mullet and squid. Fish Bites artificial shrimp and bloodworm strips also work well.
Springmaid Pier, Myrtle Beach
Mary Butler (Springmaid Pier, 843-315-7156) said small bottom fish will lead the way.
"We have had some good runs of spots, croakers and whiting," she said. "The whiting bite lasts the longest, into the coldest days of winter."
Flounder will bite as long as the water remains warm, possibly into October or early November. Anglers catch live mullet for flounder bait and bring them to the pier in aerated bait buckets.
Red drum and speckled trout also strike live minnows. Speckled trout will also hit live and cut shrimp. Black drum will hit shrimp or mole crabs fished on the bottom.
The Spanish mackerel and bluefish will be schooling in October. Mackerel Trees, spoons and Got-cha lures work best for the surfacing fish.
There is no longer a section at the end of the pier reserved for the exclusive use of king mackerel fishermen and the king mackerel club has been disbanded. Therefore, bottom fishermen and king mackerel fishermen have to be respectful of one another to avoid tangled lines when a big king mackerel takes the bait. Anglers can still use cast nets to catch mullet and greenbacks for king mackerel bait. But most king fishermen will be using bluefish, pinfish and other small bottom fish they can catch with a spinning rig. The baits are kept alive in floating bait buckets tied to the pier rail with long ropes.
The pier sells pier sells frozen mullet, squid, bloodworms and shrimp. Fish Bites artificial strips are also offered and make great artificial bait for catching spots and other small bottom fish.
Capt. Jay Baisch (Fishfull Thinking Guide Service, 843-902-0356 and Baisch Boys Bait and Tackle, 843-651-1915) said October fishing can be as much fun as spring fishing.
"A good mullet run is the key good fishing action in the fall,” he said. “All of our greatest game fish follow the mullet schools."
Anglers catch live mullet in cast nets and fish them on bottom rigs at the base of the jetties to catch flounder and red drum. Sheepshead and black drum bite live fiddler crabs fished on bottom rigs at the jetties as well.
Speckled trout strike live mullet and shrimp fished on float rigs at the jetties and oyster beds back in the creeks. Other good bets for trout include topwater lures and jigs with soft plastic trailers.
In October and November, Spanish mackerel and bluefish will be swarming inside and outside the inlet, along the beaches and the near shore artificial reefs. Anglers can troll Clarkspoons to catch them, but using casting spoons, jigs and other small lures when the fish are visible is more exciting.
King mackerel and Spanish mackerel will be biting at the near shore reefs, including Belkie Bear Reef, Myrtle Beach Rock, Paradise Reef and Pawley's Reef. Slow trolling or drifting live menhaden and mullets is the best way to catch these speedy game fish. By November or December, the bite will end when the water temperature grows too cold.
At the offshore ledges and reefs, sea bass and other bottom fish will be biting. The best places to fish are live bottoms, wrecks and artificial reefs in 70 to 100 feet of water. Sea bass bite into December, as long as the water temperature doesn't get too cold.
CAPT. MIKE McDONALD, GUL-R-BOY GUIDE SERVICE
Capt. Mike McDonald (Gul-R-Boy Guide Service, 843-546-3625) said the red drum bite will be excellent in October.
“We will be fishing for the big channel bass," he said. "Live baits and cut baits fished on bottom rigs and float rigs will the best bets. For smaller red drum, topwater lures will work well until the first of December when the water chills to less than 65 degrees. Then we will switch to using live mullet and mud minnows.”
To catch smaller red drum without deep-hooking them, McDonald uses a downsized Owen Lupton rig baited with a mud minnow or mullet. It will not tangle in the swirling currents. The rig is a 1/0 circle hook with a 4-inch, 30-pound test leader and a half-ounce sinker.
Speckled trout will also hit live shrimp and mullet fished on float rigs. They will hit topwater lures until the water temperature drops below 65 degrees. Then the best lures will be TT series MirrOlures. They will also hit jigs with soft plastic grub tails, especially Bass Assassins and Haw River curly tails. A Rapala X-Rap can wake them up when they are finicky. When the water is calm, topwater lures like Zara Spooks and Skitter Walks work well.
Flounder will bite live mullet fished on bottom rigs and float rigs. The best places to fish float rigs are shell banks and oyster beds. The best places for using bottom rigs are the jetties and creek mouths.
Black drum will hit cut shrimp fished on float rigs and bottom rigs. The best places to catch them are oyster beds and grass flats with any kind of structure. In the wintertime, the black drum will be in the warmer, deeper water in the ends of the creeks.