Burleson Outdoors

Flounder Bite Remains Hot in Murrell’s Inlet
(Posted July 2013)


From the near shore reefs to the backs of the creeks, the flounder bite has continued strong in the Murrell’s Inlet area. For the past six weeks, flounder anglers have had plenty of action on live minnows and artificial lures. As long as the bait stays around and the weather remains feasible, anglers should have little time to rest when bouncing a live minnow or scented soft plastic along the bottom. Flounder are looking for food wherever they can find it and hitting it hard. 

Captain Jason Burton of Fly Girl Fishing Charters continues to have double digit days and he cannot seem to keep live minnows in the water when the bite turns on.

“Over the past few weeks, I have had some of my best flounder days ever in the Inlet,” says Burton (843-421-2870). “We are catching some really nice ones too.”

The live bait arrived strong and the flounder have followed the parade right in. From the back of the estuary, around the jetties, and out to the near shore reefs, flounder are very plentiful right now.

Mud minnows and finger mullet are producing the best results. Burton drifts with the current on falling tides dragging live minnows. But, artificial lures will contribute to the daily creel limit. Shrimp imitations and baitfish imitations will produce good bites without much resistance from these prized flat fishes; such as, Egret Vudu Shrimp, D.O.A. Shrimp, and Berkley Gulp 5-in. Jerk Shad and Swimming Mullet in pearl white and smoke colors.  Live bait and tackle can also be purchased from Jessica at Perry’s Bait and Tackle (843-651-2895) or “Stump” at Pawley’s Island Outdoors (843-979-4666).

Burton expects the flounder bite to slow down somewhat later into the summer inshore, but proclaims the fish will congregate strong at the near shore reefs as the water heats up towards the summer highs. Yet, the ocean side of the jetties at Murrell’s Inlet will hold flounder well into the fall. 


Tarpon Arrived Along Georgetown’s Coastal Waters
                               (Posted June 2013)          

Nobody rolled out the red carpet, but the first wave of silver kings slid into familiar waters just recently off South Carolina’s beachfront. Over the last 10 days, several locals spotted a few rollers and free jumpers just beyond the breakers between Huntington Beach and the Santee Delta. Several local charter captains fishing out of the southern end of the Grand Strand, including Captains’ Newman Weaver, Steve Roff, and Jordan Pate, collectively have connected to nearly a half dozen of the majestic fish in just the last week alone. In fact, Captain Pate of Carolina Guide Service went two for three in just under one hour last weekend not too far out of sight of Georgetown’s historic lighthouse. The wait for the fabulous tarpon angling along the Grand Strand is finally over!

For nearly eight months, South Carolina tarpon anglers have had plenty of time to replenish spools, sharpen hooks, mend cast nets, and prepare for the tarpon season. Well, time is up for sure. With ocean temperatures reaching 80 degrees, the familiar flash of tarpon cracking through the surface tension will become a regular sight from now until October.

 “They are just getting here,” says Captain Pate (843-608-8307). “And after their long journey from Florida, they have rolled in with a tremendous appetite.”

Live menhaden and jumbo mullet will entice a quick bite when a school of these massive fish are found patrolling the area.

During late June and early July, Captain Pate limits his search area for tarpon around the inlets, jetties, beachfront, and even those live bottom areas just outside of the breakers.

 “Look for the bait. If you find some bait or an area where bait has been thick, the tarpon will be there,” he says.

Beginning at daylight, Captain Pate drifts live bait down the beach without any weight or floats. And he fishes in places with clear water or a place with a current rip that sets up on the outside or just inside one of the local inlets. Tarpon are here to feed and the places with the most food will be the best places to find a hungry tarpon during the first part of the season.  

Anglers can expect tarpon to be patrolling the waters around Georgetown for the next four months. But, over the next few weeks, anxious anglers should limit their search efforts to the beachfront, local inlets, and rock jetties.

“They don’t push too far inside (the bays and rivers) yet. It will not be until later in July before the fish head up river,” he says.

Strong 8/0 octopus-circle hooks, 100-pound fluorocarbon leader, and heavy action rods matched with a high capacity reel all combine to make the required tackle list to successfully-get these fish to the boat.

(written by Jeff Burleson and re-posted from www.southcarolinasportsman.com)

Dolphin Keeping Lines Stretched Offshore Right Now
(Posted June 2013)

For the last several weeks, charter captains departing from the Georgetown seaport have had little downtime within the blue waters off the Atlantic Seaboard. For every weed line, temperature break, and even piles of floating garbage are stacked with more dolphin than any angler can stand to catch in one day. As long as the ocean temperatures remain within the upper 70’s offshore, dolphin anglers can expect plenty of fiery action.

 Back during the beginning of May, a few offshore anglers were reporting a few scattered dolphin catches. But, now the flood of dolphin have finally arrived off the South Carolina coast and in a big way.

 Captain Ed Keelin aboard the Early Bird, is logging plenty of offshore time these days with dolphin catches at the top of his list. 

 “The dolphin have turned on strong offshore,” says Keelin (843-543-5126) “We are catching fish in 400 feet at the break and some big bull’s out at 100 fathoms.”

 The best places to find dolphin right now are in the typical dolphin domains along weed lines, floating debris, temperature breaks, and anything else that creates an abnormality in the ocean. To reduce search time across the wild blue yonder, Keelin reviews the satellite imagery in the vicinity of some of his normal stomping grounds near the 226 Hole and the 380 Hole.

 “You can see where the (water) temperatures or current changes on satellite imagery (off the web).”

 As the major wave of dolphin arrive into the region, their appetites are strong and they will eat about anything that catches their eye and looks tasty. The inherent nature of these fishes as an extremely fast growing species, as well as recovering from a long migration along the Gulf Stream, dolphin arrive ready to feed. And ballyhoo are the prime rib!

 Trolling ballyhoo and lures along the structure and/or temperature break will draw these fish out in no time at all. Naked ballyhoo on circle hooks are Keelin’s “go to” baits, but he will always deploy his own custom-tied sea witches when dolphin fishing in the azure waters of the Atlantic in bright colors.

 “Dolphin like bright colors with pink/white, yellow/green, bleeding dolphin, and blue/chartreuse as my personal favorites because they catch fish!”

 Over the years, Keelin’s tremendous hours offshore have allowed him to develop a lure and set of color combinations that provides a quick response from his finned favorites in a variety of conditions. Captain Ed’s Rigs come in many color combinations and can be purchased from Georgetown Landing Marina, Pawley’s Island Outdoors, The Dry Stack or from calling Captain Ed directly at (843) 543-5126.

 Keelin expects the dolphin bite off the Georgetown coast to persist at the same rate towards the end of June. Anglers looking to get a piece of the action should have a few weeks left to get out there while the skillet is still hot!

  (written by Jeff Burleson and re-posted from www.southcarolinasportsman.com)

Feeding Flurry Erupting along Murrells Inlet Beachfront with Jumbo Spanish mackerel and Massive Cobia for the Taking
(Posted May 2013)

Over the last week, a real storm is brewing along Murrells Inlet’s Beachfront. Huge migrations of menhaden have arrived just beyond the surf zone dragging in a lunchroom-full of blood-thirsty predators from afar. From massive cobia and record-sized Spanish mackerel to bluefish, sharks, and even a few kings in the mix, the near shore action is nothing less than explosive and just in time for the Memorial Day week ahead.  

 Captain Jason Burton of Fly Girl Fishing Charters has been real busy stretching lines within these feeding frenzies and the Spanish mackerel bite alone justifies the trip for any angler coming to the Grand Strand for a piece of the action.  

 “The Spanish showed up in good numbers last week, but this past Wednesday was one of the best days I have ever had with seven huge Spanish over five pounds,” says Burton (843-798-9100). “They are crushing the baitfish congregated along the beach.”

 According to Burton, the menhaden are thick from Litchfield Beach northward to Little River Inlet. And he expects the bait to stay around for quite awhile fueling the incredible bite just beyond the breakers. The Spanish, cobia, and the other toothy critters have followed these massive schools into the area and are cornering them up against the shallow fringe along the beachfront.

 “Find a school of bait balled up super tight and the cobia and Spanish mackerel will be there ready to crush anything separate from the schools.”

 Live menhaden, either slow trolled or pitched alongside the edges of the tightly-packed schools are producing the best results for the big Spanish mackerel and also some massive cobia.

 “Some huge cobia are coming to the dock off these bait pods over the last few days with more than two dozen fish weighed in at Marlin Quay Marina between 30 and 40 pounds. Captain Jay Sconyers of Aces Up (Fishing Charters) weighed in a 62 pounder last Wednesday off these bait pods.”

 When the sun is out, anglers should expect to see trophy-sized cobia patrolling the perimeter of the baitfish school preparing to make their move. Anglers can either toss live bait or throw large top water plugs to these fish and the aggressive ones will latch onto these surface walkers with rage.

 “Cobia are crushing the top water lures. Several nice fish have come from chunking those large Bombers and Yo-Zuri-type top water lures to these cruising fish.”

 For now, the water temperatures are just over 70 degrees in the surf and ideal for the menhaden and the congregation of predators in tow. Burton expects the heated action to continue over the next few weeks until the majority of the fish begin to retreat back to the reefs and live bottom region in deeper water.  

(written by Jeff Burleson and re-posted from www.southcarolinasportsman.com)

Spring Weather Revives Speckled Trout Bite in Winyah Bay   
 (Posted on April 25, 2013)


For the past couple of months, chilly inshore waters steadily-deteriorated the speckled trout bite within the Georgetown region that forced diehard speckled trout anglers to chase a distant cousin. But, finally, anglers can once again target ole yellow mouth with regular success.

The weather and water temperatures have made a quick turnaround with a trout bite busting at the seams. Captain Chris Beck of Sea Jay Charters in Georgetown reports the water temperatures are about as good as they get for the spring time trout flurry.

“It’s happening for sure! The water temperatures steadily-rising into the upper 70’s has these fish biting pretty good and consistently in certain areas,” Beck says (843-344-2645).

The trout are following their classic spring time maneuver by packing into tight groups and holding in specific places to feed briefly before shifting to other positions in the bay. Beck stays on the fish keeping his options open and moving to different spots when the bite slows. But, the fish are holding in their typical places this time of year near structure and along grassy banks.  

“Look for a big pocket of them along the marsh islands on high, rising water.”

Not only are the fish stacked into nice-sized groups, the oversized beasts are abundant.

“It’s mainly the bigger fish over 3 pounds showing up.”

Beck believes the spring bite is driven by a mixture of resident fish and ocean immigrant fish coming into the estuaries to feed and begin their annual spawning ritual. Either way, it’s a good time to visit Winyah and give these fish a whirl with a variety of artificial options. The usual trout killers will coaxes these powerhouses to bite, including: D.O.A. shrimp, Gulp shrimp, grubs, and any one of MirOlure’s slow sinkers or suspended models. Typical colors seem to work well in the dingy Winyah Bay waters with white, chartreuse, smoke, electric chicken, and opening night producing good success.

Beck is seeing the biggest fish at the crack of dawn using the larger MirOlures and then the classic top water choices: such as, Bomber’s Badonkadonk, Sebile’s Bonga Minnow, and Heddon’s Zara Spook line of lures. Using a stop-and-go retrieve with long pauses for top water will commit most of these early morning fish into making a fatal mistake with little hesitation.   

As waters continue to heat up, the speckled trout bite should continue to be good well into the month of May. It will not be until the waters bust into the mid to upper 70 when the bite will slow down during the day and become restricted to an early and late bite. But until then, anglers can have plenty of action in the stained waters of Georgetown’s Winyah Bay.           

(written by Jeff Burleson and re-posted from www.southcarolinasportsman.com)


Cooper River’s Shad Run Still Strong
(Posted March 25, 2013)

While nonexistent to some and highly-anticipated by others, the late winter shad and herring run along the coastal fringe brings many anglers out of hiding. Since early February, Santee Cooper’s tail race waters have filled with spawning shad and herring. And here recently, the action continues to reward anglers with a quick limit in record time.

 Often noted as junior-sized tarpon for their acrobatic and strenuous battles, shad are those unique species anglers should never pass on when they arrive from February through early April. Both the Santee River below Lake Marion and the Cooper River below Lake Moultrie have an equal representation of these spawning fishes.

 The run is mostly made up of blue back herring, American shad, and to a lesser extent hickory shad. While populations of these fishes are considered below their historic levels within these two river systems, angler returning from a day on these waters right now would not be able to tell much.

 On a recent trip over the weekend to the Cooper River tail race in Monks Corner, double digit catches came very quickly and continued to double over light action rods for most of the day with a mixture of blue back herring, American Shad, and a few hickory shad mixed in. Both bucks and roe shad came to the boat side throughout the day with the biggest roe shad tipping the scales just over 4.5 pounds.

 The best fishing came between the rail road trestle and the spillway. Even though the boat traffic within this confined stretch remains elevated during this run, there is always plenty of room for visiting anglers into the area.

 Tactics for catching shad over herring differ somewhat within these fast water systems. Typically, the herring prefer the faster moving water in the channel center versus shad will be found congregated towards the banks along the channel breaks. As for tackle, herring anglers prefer sabiki-style rigs weighted with enough lead to fish along the bottom in the heavy current along the center of the channel.

 Shad fall for small chrome spoons and brightly-colored crappie jigs from 1/16th to 1/8th ounce sizes. Jig bodies with chartreuse are preferred, but pink, orange, and white colors will also produce regular strikes. Typically, the best action came along the current seams near the banks in five to 12 feet of water. Anglers should allow lures to reach the bottom for the best results. Both a slow retrieve and holding the jigs in the current will both produce quick bites when a school comes by.

 Currently, elevated lake levels and extended power usage within Santee Cooper’s grid, is maintaining a significant flow through tailrace canal and Cooper River water system. Anglers new to the area should expect variable flows and drastic changes in water level in a short period. The shad and herring run should continue strong through the end of the month within both the Cooper and Santee Rivers.

Access to these rivers is very accessible for anxious anglers ready to get a piece of the action. For the Cooper River, the public boat ramp just below U.S. 52 at Monks Corner and the Santee River access is just further up U.S. 52 above St. Stephen.

(written by Jeff Burleson and re-posted from www.southcarolinasportsman.com)

Gulf Stream Rocking off the Redneck Riviera
(Posted February 2013)

Typically, the wahoo and black-fin tuna bite in the Gulf Stream waters off Myrtle Beach gradually gets better and better from Christmas until the first day of spring. But, Captain Tom Cushman of Myrtle Beach Fishing Charters reports water temperatures in the Gulf Stream are already hitting their mark cranking up the fishery early during the second month of the year.

“It is great right now with water temperatures well within the 70’s already. We are having many 10-12 fish days lately,” says Captain Cush (843-997-5850). “But with the continued wind and rain, it has been tough to find a window to go over the last few days.” 

When the weather clears, the wahoo and black-fin tuna will be well worth the wait in offshore waters.

Captain Cush typically fishes from 125 to 180-foot of water this time of year and out towards the drop off that is roughly between 60 and 80 miles from the jetties of Little River. The warm Gulf Stream current generally follows the break where the waters drop abruptly from several hundred to several thousand feet deep in just a few miles. The edges of these warm currents meet the cooler waters coming from shore that concentrates baitfish with their wicked adversaries nearby. However, the last few weeks indicates a more desirable bite in shallower water for these pelagic masters.

“The best action has occurred in 100 to 130 foot over the last five trips. It is where the bait has been.”

Anglers should not need to vary tactics or locations for wahoo versus the black-fin tuna. For the wahoo will be hanging in the shadows of the tunas eating the same bait fishes and Captain Cush wouldn’t be too surprised if the wahoo feasted on the occasional tuna as well.

Catching these pelagic royalties is not too different than any other time of year with rigged ballyhoo prevailing as the gold standard. Captain Cush trolls with the standard black/red and purple-skirted ballyhoo down deep on In-line planers, a few flat lines, and the highly-popular shotgun line. He maintains his speed at a reasonable pace to keep the baits skimming at the surface.

“Try to troll as close to 10 knots as I can, but the faster you pull them the better.”

(written by Jeff Burleson and re-posted from www.southcarolinasportsman.com)

Giant 50-lb. Striper Released in Pamlico Sound
(Posted December 2012)

Captain Richard Andrews of Tar-Pam Guide Service (252-945-9715) landed the biggest striper ever reported on hook and line within the Greater Pamlico Sound area just a few days ago on December 14.

 “I’ve caught hundreds of adult stripers in the ocean during the winter while charter fishing out of Oregon Inlet and this is probably my biggest to date and we were far from the ocean. At 49.75 inches in total length and a 26-inch girth, she was approximately 50 pounds.” 

Over the last decade, the striper buzz continues to swell within N.C.’s coastal rivers and massive sounds between the fall and the notorious spawning run. And the annual run of massive breeders between 20 and 40 pounds draw thousands of anglers just outside the surf zone at the Outer Banks and Oregon Inlet. But, few of these gargantuan line sides ever seem to take hold within the boundaries of the barrier islands within the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds in winter.

A hunch from this well-seasoned striper guide, finally-revealed that N.C’s massive collection of rivers and sounds are capable of fostering a winter population of adult breeders. 

“It’s creating quite a positive buzz throughout the scientific and recreational fishing community around here.”

Historically, large breeders were once thought to only travel through the sounds on the way to their spawning grounds in the spring. But, scientists have always believed the sounds were capable of sustaining winter schools of these large fish. The Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds and the major rivers along the coast have ideal habitat to support these winter schools with deep water, shallow stump covered flats, and a significant population of forage fishes overwintering in these areas.

Anglers have played a major role in the restoration and protection of this species in N.C. waters. And, this recent find is another reason for anglers to continue a conservation approach to further improve this ever-so-popular natural resource.

“Due to the sensitive nature of these adult females and their contribution during the spawn to the estuarine stocks, anybody who catches one of these large fish is encouraged to return them to the water immediately.”

This recent discovery is good news for estuarine stocks and the integrity of the sounds and rivers N.C. is famous for.

“It may not ever happen again, but it was a pretty amazing catch.”

(written by Jeff Burleson and re-posted from www.northcarolinasportsman.com)

For more information about Burleson Outdoors, North Carolina Whitetails Book, and Burleson Outdoor Productions, please contact Jeff at burlesonoutdoors@yahoo.com
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