What Makes May a Great Month for SC Inshore Fishing

By Richie Ferndon

As the month of May rolls in, so do the prime opportunities for inshore fishing in South Carolina. Now that a windy March and wet April are behind us, May marks a turning point for saltwater anglers. The stabilizing weather and mild water temperatures allow South Carolina’s inshore species a chance to find their pattern.

May also marks the time of year where we see bait showing up in South Carolina’s estuaries. There are already some larger mullet, and the finger mullet should be in the creeks soon. Small menhaden are being found just outside of the inlets. When we get closer to June, live shrimp should also be available in the bays.

One of the highlight species during May are redfish, which become more active after the transition of breaking up from their winter schools. Peeler crab season also comes to an end, which helps when it comes to them buying in to what you’re presenting. We will be targeting reds with mud minnows, finger mullet, or pogies (when available) under a cork on most trips. Topwater and artificial baits can add more excitement for anglers who want a challenge.

Speckled trout also come out of their deep winter holes, providing anglers with the chance to successfully target them using live minnows or artificial shrimp. When water temperatures hit the mid to upper 60’s, we will be able to count on a more consistent trout bite. Last year, we had an outstanding April on the trout; but the stubbornly cool spring of 2024 has us looking forward to May. With that said, the featured photo is a trout we caught on topwater, which is a sure sign that it’s about time for things to pick up!

Flounder are seemingly able to return to the creeks even before the baitfish show up. The creeks can produce flounder as early as March, but we tend to catch larger fish in the bays closer to May. While trolling or drifting are popular, using a minnow under a cork proves effective for catching flounder in May, especially when targeting them around oyster beds and grass lines. This time last year, we had a 27-inch 7.5-pound flounder caught by a 12-year-old from North Carolina!

In addition to inshore opportunities, nearshore fishing for weakfish, Spanish mackerel, and cobia begins to pick up. Weakfish can be found on artificial reefs, where anglers can use minnows or Buck Tail rigs to lure them in. Cobia fishing thrives in deeper waters during May, while Spanish mackerel can be targeted by trolling nearshore reefs or off the beach.

In May, the combination of various species becoming more active and the ideal weather conditions make it a great month for inshore fishing in South Carolina. Anglers can confidently aim for the inshore grand slam during this time of year. If you’re looking for a good time of year to go fishing, May offers a pretty good chance for a fun-filled day.

Capt. RC was born and raised in coastal South Carolina and is owner of Harvest Moon Fishing Charters. His grandmother taught him how to fish at the age of 2, and now he enjoys teaching others.