May’s spring weather draws people out of hiding to enjoy the warm breezes along the South Carolina coast. While many folks will be catching a few rays on the beach, diehard anglers need to slide down to Murrells Inlet to experience a different type of relaxation: catching flounder.
J Baisch of Fishfull Thinking Guide Service is one of Murrells Inlet’s best guides, and according to him, spring flounder fishing is ramping up to be spectacular year.
“This year, the flounder arrived earlier than normal,” said Baisch (843-902-0356). “The mild winter kept some bait around, and the flounder are here in strong numbers.”
Baisch’s best flounder fishing in the spring will be about as far away from the inlet as possible.
“Even though there will be some fish along the main creeks, the majority will be in 2 to 3 feet water in the backwaters of Murrells Inlet up around Garden City Canal on the north end and near Huntington Beach on the south end,” he said.
Flounder and the baitfish they target are hunting for warm conditions since the ocean water is still relatively chilly compared to the air temperatures. The tidal phase is critical this time of year to be a hero or zero.
“I recommend fishing the last two hours of the outgoing tide in the afternoons in places with black, muddy bottoms. It’s where and when the water is warmest, and the fish will be the most active,” he said.
Sunlight warms the shallow water more quickly than the water in deeper areas. As the tide starts back in, bringing cooler ocean water into the inlet, water temperatures drop quickly. A drop in the water temperature will often shut off a steady bite during the spring and should be avoided.
According to Baisch, flounder are primarily feeding on mud minnows. He uses either a 3-inch Gulp shrimp or a live mud minnow with good success.
“I fish a ½-ounce, stand-up jighead tipped with a minnow mostly because after one or two casts, the minnow will die. I can keep the minnow looking alive a lot more than he actually is on the jighead over a Carolina rig,” said Baisch, who recommends that anglers slow down and set up when a fish is caught because flounder are usually ganged up this time of year in the warm spots.
May is the beginning of Murrells Inlet’s summertime fishing bonanza and flounder are considered an anchor species for the locals, especially within the inshore realm.