Summer finally tails off this month, and the change in seasons brings cooler conditions to nearshore waters. Those waters between the Winyah Bay jetties east of Georgetown, S.C., and Murrells Inlet’s jetties fill up with king mackerel, a change well received by anglers.
Usually after Labor Day, the water begins to cool, and the annual mullet run begins along the beachfront. That’s when Tommy Warner, who runs the Grand Chillin’ for Murrells Inlet Fishing Charters, begins to bounce back and forth between the tideline formed off Winyah Bay and Murrells Inlet.
“Kings will hug the tide lines and the beachfront when the big baitfish schools arrive,” said Werner (843-504-8793). “When the water starts cooling down, mullet are coming in, and they pull the bigger kings towards shore from the break and the Georgetown Hole. They school up and go crazy this time of year, and we find some real studs in the 30 to 40-pound range.”
Depending on the tide, Werner will shift back and forth between the beachfront and the tidelines formed between Murrells Inlet and Winyah Bay. Tidelines can be fantastic places to put in your time in the early fall.
While tidelines are common outside of inlets up and down the South Carolina coast, Winyah Bay’s massive output on a falling tide churns out a massive tideline that will drift up the coast for miles.
“We definitely fish the tideline this time of year. We fish the green-water side of the rips. The kings lurk throughout the murky water and feed on the clear side when the bait moves through the rip,” he said.
As the tide starts moving back inshore, Werner shifts to the beachfront and trolls tight to the beach. The mullet run begins in September and makes nearshore waters a hot place to visit. The mullet will hug the beach, making the waters just behind the breakers a perfect place to slow-troll live baits.
Werner uses a typical king mackerel rig with two treble hooks on 40- to 50-pound wire. Even though big mullet have the kings moving, Werner’s go-to baits are still live menhaden. He slow-trolls them on surface lines just off the beach, but when he fishes the tidelines, he will add two lines baited with ribbonfish deep on downriggers.
The fall showdown with kings is not one to miss, but don’t expect the action to last forever. As the water temperature continues to fall, the mullet run will end, and kings will move back offshore to places that only big boats can reach.