Spring is bringing people out of hiding along the coast for more than just a suntan. At Murrells Inlet, the super-shallow creeks are heating up on the low end of the tide and are firing up the resident flounder. Capt. Jason Burton of Fly Girl Fishing Charters is catching more than his fair share lately, and even a few speckled trout are making the trip back to the dock.
“It has been a field day for the last week and a half,” said Burton (843-421-2870). “I have found some different ways to catch them in the early spring and catching double digits each day.”
Most flounder and trout leave inshore waters late in the fall when temperatures dive, but a small group of fish will overwinter inshore, finding deep pockets in the headwaters of tidal creeks that stay flooded all winter, even at the most-extreme low tides.
Burton targets these fish in these remote areas around Murrells Inlet, everywhere from Atlantic Avenue to Huntington Beach.
“They are sitting in pockets of warm water in the backs of the creeks on the falling tide,” said Burton, who said the water in the shallow mud flats heats up quickly on warm days.
“The difference in water temperature can be eight to 10 degrees from the mouth of the creek to the back. As the water heats up on low tide, they start feeding like crazy,” Burton said.
Not only are the fish biting, they are plentiful in these small basins of warm water. Burton is finding them in creeks with deep holes adjacent to large, shallow mud flats. The tide is critical though.
“As soon as the tide turns and the cold ocean water begins slithering back into the creek, the fish stop biting,” he said.
Burton was catching most of his fish on mud minnows fished on ¼-ounce chartreuse jigheads until a local tackle shop, Perry’s Bait & Tackle, began carrying glass minnows last week.
“I brought a dozen glass minnows for a trip last week and caught six flounder and two speckled trout on them,” he said.
As the water continues to heat up, Burton expects the flounder bite to remain good and expand to the typical spring spots in main creek channels and creek mouths.