So although on the small side, whiting make excellent table fare, minus the bones and are normally present in such large numbers that catching enough for dinner is usually guaranteed.
Whiting aren’t picky eaters and will eat just about everything from small pea to grape sized chunks of cut bait such as minnows, mullet, or pogies. They will also eagerly eat little bits of crab, squid, clam, shrimp as well as artificially scented Gulp type baits. Use a small wire Aberdeen style hook (or any small hooks you have on hand) along with a 1-6 ounce pyramid sinker. Fish on the bottom using a fish finder rig, double hook rig, or just about any type of surf rig. Whiting aren’t shy and you normally wont any trouble detecting their bite.
Red drum, sheephead, bluefish, spot croaker, weakfish, spotted sea trout and pompano are also caught in the surf. Red drum, sheepshead, bluefish, spot, and croaker can all be caught on the same baits and same methods used to target whiting. Although the red drum and sheepshead will sometimes prefer live or freshly dead shrimp, surf clams, fiddler crabs, or pieces of blue crabs.
Larger drum referred to as “bulls or bull reds” will start to show up along the inlets, jetty’s and beaches towards the end of summer or early fall and will normally stick around until the end of October to mid November before they head out into deeper water for the winter. The bull reds can range over 40 inches and 30lbs +, so larger hooks and heavier line is required. We use 20-25lb mono, with 5/0-6/0 circle hooks tied onto a 20-30 inch, 20lb flourocarbon leader attached to a fish finder rig on the bottom. They will take whole fresh or live finger mullet (4-6”) as well as just about any other small bait fish, crab, clams or shrimp. The finger mullet work well and stay on the hook.
The pompano are here during the summer months when the water is in the 80-90s. But you probably wont catch these while bottom fishing for whiting, reds, or bluefish. These are normally caught on small spinners, or other compact shallow running lures fished on lighter tackle. Pompano like to hunt right along the beach just behind the first wave while looking for small bait fish. So trying wading out a little bit and casting vertically down the beach rather than out away from the beach. This will keep your lure in the zone longer and increase your odds of hooking into a pompano. Pompano normally average ½-2 lb although they can get quite large with some specimens weighing in at over 10lbs. Pompano are another excellent table fish when you can catch them.
The bluefish start showing up in large numbers on the beaches in droves around the middle of august. They be consistently caught on the bottom using cut bait or artificial lures such as castmasters, spoons, or bucktails. The bluefish can be caught in the surf up until mid October to late November depending on water temps. They are extremely aggressive and during late summer and fall can normally be seen almost every morning and even throughout the day breaking the surface while chasing smaller fish. Cast to these feeding fishing using spoons, castmasters, rattle traps, or just about anything that moves. Bluefish normally aren’t picky either and when present can sometimes be considered a nuisance. They will aggressively attack just about any type of cut or fresh bait fished on the bottom and can easily bite through even the heaviest monofilament or even braided lines. So when the bluefish are on the feed use long shank j style hooks to prevent bite offs. And when larger bluefish are present, steel leader is frequently required. Bluefish are strong fish and can run over 15 lbs and 30”, so use a heavier long shank j style hook to prevent larger fish from straightening out your hooks. Even the smaller fish aren’t particularly hook shy and will have no reservations grabbing a large hook full of fresh bait.
Surf fishing for sharks! Although shark fishing can be an exciting past time, it is illegal to intentionally target sharks while fishing anywhere in Horry county. If shark fishing is your thing then any of the beaches north or south of Horry county will most likely produce sharks. Sharks can be found along the entire Atlantic coastline and South Carolina beaches are no exception. The coastal area known as the Grand Strand is actually a bay and is one of the largest shark nurseries on the planet.
Many varieties of sharks can be encountered along the South Carolina coastline. The most common are tiger sharks, lemon sharks, sandbar sharks, bull sharks and bonnet head and other types of hammerheads. Even great white sharks pass by the area with one that was being tracked passing within 1 mile of the Myrtle Beach beaches. And the world record tiger shark was caught just up in Cherry Grove. It weighed as much as a car tipping the scales at 1780lbs. Many large sharks have been caught in the area since then.
All too frequently during the warmer summer months sharks can ruin an otherwise pleasant day of fishing by biting off expensive rigs or chasing all of the game fish away. When sharks become a nuisance either pack up and move to a different part of the beach, or switch to artificials like spinners, jigs, spoons, or plugs that have no scent.
The fishing season in Myrtle Beach is said to run for 365 days a year. So when the surf fishing starts to slow down during the colder winter months, expand your adventures and try fishing the back bays for spotted trout, and the shallower backwaters for mid winter reds. Flounder have perhaps the highest tolerance for cold water and can normally be caught even in the dead of winter in the bays, or near inlets. Fish on the bottom with live minnows, or cut squid on a Carolina rig bounced slowly across the bottom.