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We're taking a family trip to the Charleston, SC area the first week in May. What is surf fishing like just north of Charleston on Sullivans/Isle of Palms? Are there other nearby areas that might be better? I would really like to catch some Pompano but would not turn up my nose at snapper blues and red drum, or even whiting. Best baits? Terminal tackle?

I have both light and medium heavy surf rods and am filling out the reel collection to match. I plan on purchasing terminal tackle down there if I cannot find suitable components here in MI/internet.

I have not been surf casting since going with my grandfather near Vero Beach, FL when I was a sophomore in college. Any information would be appreciated.

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Best bet would be to stop by one of the tackle shops and talk to the people about what's biting and what you need to catch them. Lots of things moving that time of year . You should be good for pompano, small blues flounder mullet and other pan fish in the surf and the inlet. Half day offshore could be an option also


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Spanish, Blues, Pompano all in the surf with a light surf rod, high speed reel, and 1-1/4 oz Stingsilver (and/or 1 oz. Kastmaster), reel as fast as you can. I use a couple of rods in the 1/2 to 1-3/4 to 2 oz., lure rating and reel with 10 or 15 lbs braid - those lures cast like a bullet, let it drop a bit and reel fast. Those fish will run close once the water hits 68 to 70 degrees (for sure by May). I use a Penn Spinfisher VI 3500 and a Daiwa Saltist MQ 3000 - light and fast (can’t reel too fast for the Spanish, slow down and you’ll catch Blues). Lot of fun to me. I fish further north in NC, but you should have the same action. There is an inlet on the island between Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island that I fished several years back, Breaches Inlet, it has public parking and a jetty. There was a good restaurant right there too (Boathouse) Good luck!


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Thanks for the tips. I've spoken with one of the local tackle shops and found the inlet on Google Earth. Glad to hear of opportunities for blues and pompano. My surf tackle leans towards medium heavy but I'll check my steelhead/pike rods for the suggested lure weights.

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I have surf fished from Nags head to Central Florida since 1990s. My setup I have used for all of these trips are three 10.6-11 ft spinning rods capable of tossing 2-5 oz rigs. Those rigs are basic high low rigs, pompano rigs and fish finder rigs ( for bigger cut baits). These work for most surf fishing. I keep weights from 2-5 with the majority being 3 oz. Reels on those are 6000 series spooled with 30 lb braid with a 50 lb mono shock leader long enough to be wrapped five times around the reel down the length of rod and 3-5 ft out the end of the rod.

I also have 9 ft spinning rods 1/2 oz-3 oz rating with 3000-4000 series reels that I keep ready for casting spoons , diamond jigs and other hard lures. If there are blues or macks around I use a short wire bite leader. If not then I use a 30-40 lb floro leader.

In most cases the 9ft setups will work but if the surf is rough you need the extra weight that the bigger rods afford you.

I carry four sand spikes and a sandflea rake on my beach cart. When I first started I carried everything in a 5 gallon bucket and had a soft side cooler. These days I look like Teddy Roosevelt on safari pulling my beach cart loaded up with all my crap.

Everywhere I have gone I always stop at a few bait and tackle shops to see what they recommend for that area. I buy something from them even if it a few sinkers and some bait.

Before going I identify and follow online surf fishing reports if they are available. That way I know whats moving through that area and I know what rigs to tie if I am not buying them when I get there.


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Good advice above. I will also add that most of your bites will be closer to the beac than as far as you can sling a 3oz weight... spots and whiting are great to eat and catch on med tackle...


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Originally Posted by Sasha_and_Abby
Good advice above. I will also add that most of your bites will be closer to the beac than as far as you can sling a 3oz weight... spots and whiting are great to eat and catch on med tackle...
This for sure.
Generally in the troughs and rips between the beach and the sand bars. Tides can effect which trough the fish are in. If possible I always walk down the beach and find a rip but I been on plenty of beaches where I couldn't find one handy. The only structure was the bars and troughs.
Theres plenty of stuff online and you tube on how to read the beach.


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It was flag straight out windy and the water roiled up most of the time on the Isle of Palms the first week in May. I fished shrimp and Fishbites on 1/0 pompano rigs when the tide was rising. Used a 6 oz pyramid sinker on a two hook rig and a 4 oz on the three hook rig. 12 ft 20-50 lb rated rods, 40 lb braid behind a shot of 30 lb monofilament. The 6 oz sinker let me beat the wind and got the rig out perhaps 30-40 yards or so, the 4 oz sinker got me perhaps 20-30 feet past the breaking waves without really leaning into the cast....and I was out of practice. Caught a gafftopsail catfish and several small (10-12") red drum on both rigs. One of the latter fed a small shark and the gulls finished off the front end.

Despite the wind the waves weren't all that big and there weren't any discernable rips. No noticeable first bar or second bar like we typically have on the Great Lakes. There was a reef or large sand bar maybe 600 yards offshore which knocked the Atlantic swells down considerably. Given southerly wind a good bit of the time I wondered if the Cooper/Wando river plume was being pushed up the coast.

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