Throughout the year, certain fisheries fire off with a change in water temperature or some other type of environmental condition. And for offshore anglers, one fantastic change has produced a dolphin bite that has boatloads of the colorful, tasty fish making their way back from offshore locales to docks in the Little River area.
While a few dolphin showed up in April and early May, the last two weeks have been sizzling, with large schools of dolphin and plenty of fish boxes being filled to the top with fish.
Capt. Tom Cushman of Captain Cush Fishing Charters is making his runs to the bluewater at every chance he can get.
“We have killed them the last few weeks. The bite is on,” said Cushman (843-997-5850). “We are bringing home 200 to 300 pounds each trip, and we had one real nice one pushing 50 pounds last week. It’s a great time to be fishing offshore.”
For the most part, the best bite has been in 150 to 220 feet of water, but Cushman has found a few in shallower places, like the artificial reef BP 25 that’s only 30 miles off the Little River jetties. As the dolphin make their way up the coast, they are hungry and looking for food.
“Bait is the big thing right now. Anywhere you can find a large accumulation of bait, the dolphin will be on them,” Cushman said.
However, the bite has been erratic even when the fish appear to be circling the baitfish schools.
“They are turning on and off suddenly. We will fish for over an hour sometimes on a school of bait, and then the bite will switch on, with doubles and triple hookups for 30 minutes. Look for bait suspended or near the surface and make sure to stay with them when you mark them. They will turn on eventually,” he said.
Dolphin are voracious feeder that will strike a wide variety of lures and baits. Cushman rarely leaves the dock without an arsenal of lures and rigged bait, both large and small, to make sure he has something similar to what fish want on a particular day. Lately, his best combination has been a small inexpensive chugged in pink and white.
Dolphin typically congregate around floating debris and weed lines, but the grass has been tough to locate lately, and fish are congregated around the suspended baitfish down in the water column. Cushman will use one planer rod and a collection of surface rods.
“The planer only goes down 20 feet, and you really don’t catch many on the planer, but it brings the school up and then they can see all of the surface lines. Looks like a school of bait right on top,” he said.
Cushman said the dolphin migration through Grand Strand bluewater won’t last all summer, but he expects the bite to be very good for another two or three weeks.
“You will definitely be able to catch some throughout the summer, but late May through early June are the best time of the year to catch them here,” he said.