Along the beaches of the Grand Strand, as the summer doldrums have taken hold, the Spanish mackerel bite has picked up very strongly and is the best option now for fishermen looking for some fast-paced action close to shore. Capt. Tom Cushman of Captain Cush Fishing Charters has been catching plenty of fish just off the beaches of North Myrtle.

“We haven’t had a really good bite on Spanish in weeks, until the week we just got through. They are stacked up crushing bait just off the beach,” said Cushman (843-997-5850). “For the last few days, we got triples every pass.”

Spanish mackerel will be found anywhere there are large accumulations of baitfish. Cushman has caught some further offshore, but his best successes have been around bait about 2 or 3 miles off the beach.

“We are getting them on pods of bait along a color change; the fish are on the clear side. You cannot miss them. The birds are working the bait and plenty of fish jumping out of the water,” he said.

Cushman doesn’t get too complicated. He uses a standard silver, No. 00 Clark Spoon on a weighted leader system.

“I use a 1 ½-ounce egg sinker attached above a ball-bearing swivel and 30 feet of 30-pound monofilament or fluorocarbon leader down to the spoon,” he said. “It is a real simple rig that always works well for us.”

Bluebird days with bright sunlight appear to have been better for Cushman than cloudy days.

Cushman expects the bite to continue as long as the baitfish stay packed up. The existing color change is holding the bait at present, but  tide lines and livebottom areas will also hold bait and Spanish mackerel.

Cushman advises anglers to look for birds. The Spanish mackerel are corralling the baitfish towards the surface, giving the birds the opportunity to grab a quick meal.