Cherry Grove is first, best spot for spring flounder

The Cherry Grove estuary just south of the North Carolina/South Carolina border is a great place to start out the spring season catching flounder.

Small estuary gives up big flatfish this time of year

Many inshore anglers begin the spring fishing season in small inlets and estuary areas for one of the most targeted of all inshore species, the flounder.

For anglers living close to the North Carolina/South Carolina border, the pint-sized estuary known as Cherry Grove is dead center for a spring flounder smackdown. And after the completion of the monumental dredging project, Cherry Grove’s bite is one to remember.

In 2016 and 2017, 165,000 cubic yards of dredged material was removed from 24 man-made canals between 42nd Avenue North to 62nd Avenue North in the Cherry Grove section of North Myrtle Beach.

Tom Cushman of Cush’s Calmwater Fishing Charters said the dredging opened up and created more habitat for flounder.

“Last year was the first full season since the dredging,” said Cushman (843-997-5850). “The dredging offers more places for bait and flounder to hold at low tide.”

Typically, Cushman concentrates on the deeper sections to catch spring flounder.

Flounder arrive hungry this month

“Cherry Grove is a shallow estuary, and we catch the most spring fish in the channel when they are migrating in,” he said. “The new, deep-water canals give us places to fish outside of the main channel at low tide when the fishing is usually the best.”

As flounder move in, they arrive famished. Cushman will drift the main channel with several rods rigged with live mud minnows on Carolina rigs or flounder rigs with gold Kahle-style flounder hooks on the incoming and outgoing tides. He will fish through both the high and low tides this time of year.

Mud minnows are abundant in the creeks as spring arrives. Anglers can set minnow traps or pick up a few dozen from the local bait shops.

Cushman will also fish off his own dock, which happens to sit right on the edge of a bend in the channel, close to two large oyster banks.

“I catch 5- to 6-pounders off that dock every year,” he said. “You don’t have to have a boat to catch quality and nice quantities of fish in Cherry Grove when the action is hot in the spring.”

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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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