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Surfcasting Sunset & Myrtle Beach

Ryan Collins

Surf fishing in South Carolina is certainly a different game than surf fishing on Cape Cod, with bait taking precedence over plugs and lures.

It seems that most people in SC either fish from boats or from piers. I have not seen a single person casting plugs into the surf, as is done with regularity on Cape Cod.

On Thursday of this week I took my new Tsunami travel rod to Sunset Beach, North Carolina, for a test run. So far I am really happy with this travel rod and I think it will be perfect for my trip to Costa Rica later this month. 

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Surfcasting Sunset Beach, North Carolina

As I would soon discover, much of this shoreline is heavily developed with high rise hotels, amusement parks and gift shops located in the dunes right on the beach. However, Sunset Beach is quite different.

To the south of Sunset Beach is Bird Island, a large expanse of conservation land quite similar to Sandy Neck back home in Barnstable, MA. My plan was to start at the Sunset Beach fish pier and walk two miles south to the inlet at the Bird Island.

​Thanks to a post on Facebook from My Fishing Cape Codder Ed Fowler, I discovered that some real quality redfish (also called red drum) were taken just outside the inlet last week by anglers fishing in boats (see below).

Sarah Hazelton, of Charlotte, NC, with a citation red drum that fell for a live pogie off Sunset Beach.

It'd be a dream to catch a fish like the red drum above during my brief stay here on the South Carolina seashore, however I am learning that casting plugs in the surf is not typically a productive means of catching these fish.

I gave it a decent effort this past Thursday morning in the rain at Sunset Beach. I walked and cast all the way to the south and then fished for a couple hours at the inlet by the Little River jetties, as you'll see in the video below.​

Throughout the morning I watched gannets dive bombing bait just beyond the breakers. I also saw a seagull pluck a bunker from the surf. Dolphins were also consistently breaking the surface a couple hundred yards offshore.

I saw several small fish chasing bait in the estuary by the inlet. There was a good school of something busting on the surface well out of casting range. I tossed Magic Swimmers, Albie Chasers, Epoxy jigs and a white curly tail grub but I enticed no bites. I felt like I had a lot to learn.


Surfcasting Myrtle Beach, North Carolina

Myrtle Beach is quite the spectacle! High rise hotels, shops and restaurants dominate the shoreline. Amusement rides and giant ferris wheels provide an interesting backdrop for surfcasting.

Lauren and I had a wedding to attend this past weekend, and we stayed with friends at the Holiday Inn located right next to Pier 14. I am still amazed at the eclectic mix of people and businesses which comprise Myrtle Beach. 

I will just cut to the chase and report that I did very little fishing this weekend at Myrtle. I probably spent about two hours casting a variety of different lures from the beach. 

On Friday just before sunset, I had several schools of baitfish swim by me, which were under attack from some type of small predatory fish. My most exciting fishing moment of the trip occurred on my next cast, when a 5-7ft long shark rose to the surface behind my magic swimmer and followed the lure in towards shore. 

Over the course of the weekend I observed several very small fish caught by anglers fishing from the nearby piers. From a distance they resembled the scup which are common in Cape Cod waters. 

In conclusion, the surf fishing for me at Sunset and Myrtle Beach was very slow, and I am already looking forward to fishing the surf at Costa Rica! I expect my odds of success to be much higher in the Costa Rican surf. 

However for anyone planning on fishing the surf in the Carolinas anytime soon, I would highly recommend reading this post from MFCC member Alex Chamessian about his recent trip to North Carolina. Alex and his friend experienced success with sharks and red drum by fishing bait. 

Stay tuned to MFCC this week for a new giveaway and more new content. I also have a lot in store for MFCC this coming holiday season, including plug bags for the Cape Cod Canal, "gift memberships" (which you can purchase and give to people this holiday season), a new website specifically devoted to fishing in Costa Rica, plus many other ideas and ventures which I look forward to sharing with you this fall & winter.

Tight lines!

I’m fortunate to have grown up on the beach, and I’ve been fishing since kindergarten. I have great family, friends and fishing experiences to be thankful for. Just being out there is enough-catching fish is just a bonus!

  1. I am very surprised that there are not more surf fishermen (and women) on the beaches. I would have thought it would be the perfect place to go for blues and stripers. Any reason given as to why everyone fishes off a pier? So of course, this begs the question, after the blues and stripers leave the Cape, where do they go? I know they head south for warmer waters, so I would have thought you would be in the perfect place…………any thoughts?

    Reply
    1. I know the guys in New Jersey are doing really well with the stripers right now. During the winter I know there is a biomass of fish to the north of Myrtle, off the Outer Banks.

      The coastline of Myrtle is so developed that it really doesn’t appeal to a guy like myself who is accustomed to the Cape beaches, which have far less development. With that said I would think guys would still fish the surf – if there were fish to be caught.

      I think the piers are just easier for most people. Pier fishing is the culture, so that is what I saw people doing. Maybe that would change if some ambitious soul started fishing the surf and having success?

      Reply
  2. Very interesting, Ryan. That entire bag of tricks and no strikes….? i’m curious to know what the seasoned anglers down there think of artificial and why. is it “common knowledge” that they are less productive? thanks for sharing

    Reply
    1. I forgot to mention it was about 40 degrees with a howling wind in the morning, which made it feel more like 30 degrees probably. My motivation to fish hard was not really there, if you catch my drift.

      However it will be for Costa Rica. My buddy just sent me this photo of a rooster he caught on a white magic swimmer right at the spot where I will be staying 😉

      Reply

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