State-line flounder cranking up

A live finger mullet bounced off the bottom along the Little River Inlet jetty rocks may put flounder in your cooler.

Cooling water brings best flatfish action back inshore to Little River

After a long and dreadfully hot summer, the change of seasons brings cooler air, water and a fantastic flounder bite to the nearshore and inshore areas around the North Carolina/South Carolina state line. From the Little River Inlet jetties and marsh creeks to the muddy shoulders along the Intracoastal Waterway, flounder wake up to take advantages of the abundant baitfish.

Flounder spend most of the year shoving menhaden, mullet and shrimp into their mouths in the oyster-lined creeks and salty estuaries around Little River. During summer, when water temperatures spike to nearly 90 degrees, the inshore bite becomes inconsistent, and most serious flounder fishermen dredge the sea floor around nearshore reefs. When fall approaches, water temperatures finally begin to tumble and bring life back into the estuaries.

The fall weather is a real blessing for guide David Cutler of Lowcountry Fishing Charters.

“Flounder start to migrate back in at the same time the mullet begin showing up in good numbers,” said Cutler (843-222-7433). “Anywhere you find mullet, you will be catching flounder.”

The first stop on the September flounder rush is the jetties. Cutler will net finger mullet and drift them along the bottom on a Carolina rig next to the jetty rocks for a two-species combo.

“The redfish are usually making a strong appearance, too. A live mullet will catch both big redfish and some really nice flounder at the jetties,” he said.

A light current at the jetties seems to bring in the most fish, pushing into the creeks and eventually the ICW.

“The mullet pour into the estuaries this time of year, and the flounder are usually right on them everywhere, from the main creeks like Bonaparte’s all the way around to the muddy banks along the Calabash River,” said Cutler, who will use a Carolina rig most of the time but will substitute a Gulp jerk shad or swimming mullet when he sees one feeding on top.

“I see them frequently busting mullet up next to the banks along the ICW in 6 inches of water,” Cutler said.

Mullet will swim tight along the banks, hiding from predators in deeper water. But flounder can snuggle right along the water’s edge and crash right on them when they pass by. Cutler will keep a 1/8-ounce jighead rigged with a Gulp soft plastic to cast when he is fishing within casting distances of one of the many docks along Little Rivers’ shorelines.

September is the beginning of the fabulous inshore bite along North Carolina/South Carolina border, with a variety of species to target. For flounder anglers, the bite takes off and offers plenty of good chances to catch a bag limit along the jetty rocks and well into the estuaries along the ICW.

About Jeff Burleson 1311 Articles
Jeff Burleson is a native of Lumberton, N.C., who lives in Myrtle Beach, S.C. He graduated from N.C. State University with a degree in fisheries and wildlife sciences and is a certified biologist and professional forester for Southern Palmetto Environmental Consulting.

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