As July rolls around, the fireball is the sky continues to bake South Carolina’s Grand Strand, bringing temperatures in nearshore waters closer to their summer peaks. And the peak of the sizzlin’ summer is a great time for anglers with an affinity for Spanish mackerel to target these yellow-spotted firecrackers.

The ocean is one massive food pyramid, with lots of players on both ends of the ladder. The tides suck water out of the inshore nursery grounds twice a day, bringing a fresh buffet to lots of hungry predators, and Spanish mackerel are among them. 

During the summer, beaches and inlets are chocked full of bait — mullet, menhaden, croaker and more. But while some top predators move out to deeper, cooler water when it gets hot inshore, Spanish mackerel are quite tolerant of the 88-degree water and make the Grand Strand their summer home.

“Spanish schools are abundant along the beach during the summer. They arrive in April and are a good species to target until the early fall cool down,” said Tom Cushman of Captain Cush Charters in Little River, S.C. “Spanish fuel up on bait all summer long, and it doesn’t take long to get a 15-fish limit when you get into them.” 

Spanish might be anywhere from the beachfront out to 40 feet of water, he said. Structure — or anything else that congregates baitfish — will attract schools of Spanish. 

“We troll small spoons along the beaches for Spanish and around the nearshore reefs. There is usually plenty of bait along the beach and at the reefs that attracts them,” Cushman said. 

Clark spoons are the norm for fooling Spanish mackerel, which are lightning-fast feeders that slash through schools of bait and come back through to clean up the