South Carolina coastal fishing report for mid-May

South Carolina coastal
Doubling up on redfish has been the norm for anglers with Capt. Brian Vaughn of Off the Hook Charters in Hilton Head.

South Carolina coastal fishing is getting better every day

As we move into the second half of May, the weather was warmed up, and the South Carolina coastal fishing has heated up just as much. What was already a good saltwater fishing bite has turned even better. And that goes for anglers chasing any species of fish.

Recent rains have still brought about inconsistencies in the hottest spots and hottest species from one day to the next. But one thing is for sure, you can expect to catch just about anything whether you’re fishing inshore, nearshore, or offshore. And that goes from the top of the Palmetto State’s coast to the bottom.

Capt. Patrick Kelly with Capt. Smiley Charters said the water temps in the Cherry Grove area have been in the upper 60s to 70 degrees. The water is very clear overall, and the flounder continue to bite strong. With big schools of menhaden around, anglers are also catching plenty of redfish in the shallow creeks.

Speckled trout are also biting, and Kelly said they are keying on live shrimp right now. He suggest anglers purchase shrimp or catch some in deep holes. The shrimp currently in the shallow creeks are too small to entice trout to bite. That should change any day though, he said.

South Carolina coastal
This redfish was caught with Capt. Smiley Charters in Myrtle Beach.

Cut shrimp is producing black drum. Kelly said targeting deep holes in small creeks, as well as any submerged structure is the key to catching black drum. A deep hole with structure in it is the perfect spot.

Multiple species continue to keep anglers busy and smiling

Apache Pier in Myrtle Beach is up and running. The first fish of the year for the pier was a 20-inch flounder. Mark Tweddale caught the fish on May 6. The pier has canceled their annual spring king mackerel tournament due to COVID-19.

South Carolina coastal
This flounder kicked things off for the 2020 season at the Apache Pier in Myrtle Beach.

Apache pier is still looking for the first king mackerel to be planked for the season. The lucky angler who does it will win a free king mackerel fishing pass, good for one year. Last year’s first one bit on June 22, so it’s still a little early. However, most anglers agree that this year’s fishing is happening a little earlier than normal. And with king mackerel being caught offshore and nearshore lately, it could happen on the pier any day now.

In Murrells Inlet, Capt. Justin Witten of Ambush Sport Fishing said it’s been a mixed bag from one day to another. He’s cleaned up on Spanish mackerel while trolling just off the beaches. Big weakfish and flounder are biting on the nearshore reefs, and he’s catching loads of flounder when staying in the inlet. He’s also catching some big redfish and a few keeper black drum.

South Carolina coastal
Capt. Justin Witten shows off a hefty weakfish caught outside of Murrells Inlet last week.

Outside of Georgetown, Capt. Spencer Lynch with Southern Inshore Charters said the bull redfish are back around, making drags scream for his clients. Smaller, keeper-sized redfish have been somewhat inconsistent in the area. On the right days, these fish bite like hotcakes, and local anglers expect that bite to stabilize as the weather continues to warm up.

Bull redfish, and slot-sized fish are biting

Lynch said the sheepshead bite is still plenty consistent, and can keep anglers busy all day around the jetties and other structure. Speckled trout have been biting good in the area, but the recent rains may push them out of the creeks in search of saltier water.

South Carolina coastal
This angler landed his bull redfish with Southern Inshore Charters outside of Georgetown recently.

Capt. Tom Siwarski (843-327-3434) of Carolina Aero Marine Adventures in the Charleston area is also putting his clients on some bull redfish. And they are catching plenty of slot-sized redfish too.

Speckled trout are stealing the show on some days for Siwarski. His anglers are boating a lot of specks, including big numbers of two to four-pound trout.

South Carolina coastal
Dave Pfeiffer of Charleston boated this African pompano while fishing with Reel Time Charters.

In the Folly Beach area, Capt. Ben Powers of Reel Time Charters is finding fish all over the map. Inshore, nearshore, and offshore, he’s been putting his anglers on a huge variety of species. A 35+ pound African pompano highlighted one offshore jigging trip. Cobia on Z-Man soft plastics have also starred on some of his outings. Redfish in a variety of sizes are also keeping his clients and guests happy.

Capt. Gifford Scott caught this cobia on a Z-Man Giant TRD.

Capt. Joe Dennis with Capt. J Hook Charters took his first saltwater trip of the year this past weekend, and it was a good one. One of his customers, Jamalynn Williamson caught her first ever saltwater fish. She then proceeded to complete the inshore slam of redfish, speckled trout, and flounder while fishing in the Charleston area.

The fishing is great, but it’s about to get even better

Dennis said everything is falling into place for a great fishing year. He’s not a fan of the recent rains, but the warming weather trend has been on target to bring in more baitfish and stabilize the inshore fishing.

Jamalynn Willisamson caught this redfish while fishing with Capt. J Hook Charters in Charleston.

Capt. Jimmy Skinner with Fontaine Charters at Edisto Beach is also catching plenty of redfish. But the highlight for many of his days have been fat speckled trout. Live bait or artificial soft plastics under Send It popping corks has been doing the trick inshore for his anglers.

The offshore grouper have the feed bag on outside of Edisto Beach.

Offshore, Skinner’s crew has been catching plenty of grouper and snapper. The sharks are thick, and skinner said anglers need to get those snappers and groupers in as quick as they can. The sharks have picked off a few of theirs on the way up, and Skinner said anyone looking to hook a big hammerhead will find plenty off of Edisto Beach.

In the Hilton Head area, Capt. Brian Vaughn of Off the Hook Fishing Charters said the fishing is absolutely on fire. Redfish have been his most consistent target, but some hefty speckled trout are also playing along nicely on most days. He’s been spotting some tripletail and cobia in recent days. He said as good as the fishing has been, it’s about to kick up another notch.

South Carolina coastal
The redfish bite has been very consistent for anglers in the Hilton Head Island area lately.

“This warm weather is only going to help get the fishing hotter than it is already,” said Vaughn (843-298-4376)

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Brian Cope
About Brian Cope 1694 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at

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