Cooling weather and a load of baitfish in the Intracoastal Waterway has fired up the striped bass that call Little River home, and the fishing should only get better as the water temperature continues to drop.

For decades, Little River anglers have caught striped bass along the short segment of waterway between Barefoot Landing and the confluence with the Calabash River. The best fishing is typically when the water gets cold and most of the Myrtle Beach tourists are long gone. Locals say the first slug of fish usually begins to show up when the leaves start changing colors, and they will around until the trees begin to sprout their new leaves in the spring.

Capt. Tom “Cush” Cushman of Myrtle Beach Fishing Charters catches his fair share of these fish every year – usually within minutes of his boat dock at Harbourgate Marina.

“We don’t typically target stripers. They can be elusive at times, but right now the fishing is strong and fairly predictable.” said Cushman (843-997-5850). “We come across most of the stripers we catch while fishing for trout and redfish in the waterway.”

Under fall conditions, the ICW fills with groceries that attract huge schools of speckled trout and redfish, and then reasonable-sized schools of striped bass as well. Cushman encounters striped bass around typical ambush points along the ICW. Stripers will set up along places where the current is broken by structure or a change in depth.

“The bridges, dock pilings, creek mouths and along the edge of the channel are where we catch them mostly,” he said.

With stripers are filling up on fish and shrimp, just about any bait and lure will potentially drum up a bite: deep-diving crankbaits, lipless crankbaits, swimbaits, grubs and artificial shrimp. Most fishermen, in fact, have their best success trolling grubs and crankbaits so they can cover plenty of ground.

Cushman is a little partial to live bait.

“They will tear up a live shrimp or mullet,” he said.