May is peak of late-spring flounder fishing around Little River

flounder
May is a great month for fishermen to find big flounder in the waters around South Carolina’s Little River. (Picture by Tom Cushman)

Borderline flounder bite is heating up

Spring weather takes hold this month. There’s little cool weather left on the menu. Anglers respond, and many of them take advantage of a hot bite along the coast, particularly the flounder bite just south of the North Carolina/South Carolina state line in Little River’s tannic waters.

Flounder are some of the most sought-after inshore species across the Eastern Seaboard. Not only are they fun to catch, they are one of the best eating fish anywhere. And spring is among the best seasons to catch these fish around Little River.

It is a unique area, with the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, shallow estuaries and docks and other structures on every corner. But the area’s most-interesting feature is the tea-colored water. The dark waters of the Waccamaw River feed the ICW and fuel the region, bringing in a flood of nutrients and tons of baitfish. Historically, flounder have keyed in on this area to take advantage of the abundance of food. And May is the middle of the peak flounder season in Little River.

Tom Cushman of Captain Cush’s Calmwater Charters has fished this area for more than 20 years. And he is well-known for limiting out on flounder on many trips.

“Big schools of flounder move in from offshore to feed,” Cushman said. (843-997-5850) “The schools moving in from offshore can be voracious and ready to eat whatever they can find.”

The estuaries are filled with all types of baitfish and a new crop of shrimp moving into the creeks. Flounder will move in from the ocean and find places to ambush the smorgasbord of bait.

The ICW and deep creeks are great areas to target

“The fish move in and spread out along oyster bars, creeks mouths, and even in the main channels,” he said.

Flounder, which associate with structure in order to ambush passing forage, will spread out as the weather continues to warm. But in spring, they are still moving in and will most often be found around structure along the main waterways.

“Sandy bottom areas near structure along the main channels are great places to find flounder in the spring,” he said.

In Little River, the main creeks off the inlet will generally hold fish in May. Dunn Sound and the large, deep creeks that connect to the ICW are also great places to fish. But Cushman warns anglers not to ignore the ICW either.

“The ICW will be full of bait this time of year. And flounder will be ambushing this bait along the edges of the ICW and along docks and other structure,” he said.

Flounder can set up in certain places, but they’re also still on the move and can shift from place to place. For best results, slow-trolling with live baits or jigging with shrimp-imitators of Gulp! baits to cover a lot of water is the best way to find these fish.

May is one of the best months to fish for flounder around Little River, because it’s also when bigger size-classes of fish show up. Flounder move into the area in schools of similar sizes, and at the end of the migratory push, the larger-size groups show up that can make retrieving these fish a real, but exciting challenge.

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About Jeff Burleson 1257 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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