I was blessed to spend a week in Pawleys Island, SC from 8/19-8/26, and while I was there I was able to fish for two days. Pawleys Island is a small, quaint, peaceful island located in between Georgetown, SC and the renowned Murrells Inlet, SC. Pawleys Island is only 1.5 miles wide and 3 miles long, but it is packed full of epic fishing from small saltwater creeks to surf fishing to walking the plank on the pier. I have spent a ton of time on Pawleys Island, this is where I cut my teeth on saltwater fishing with my father. Everything I know about chasing Reds, Flounder, Trout, Black Drum, and Kings I have learned from my father, and from two of my local brothers to Pawleys Island: Mike Eady and Johnny Wingfall. Once I step onto the island I feel at ease, I find my peace, and I feel like a local.
The day before I went out into the saltwater creeks, I started prepping my gear and tackle. I put fresh Power Pro braided line on my 13 Fishing Creed X reels, and did a final once-over on my 13 Fishing Black Omen and Fate Chrome rods. I knew the first day I wanted to try my hand at fishing all artificial baits, which I knew would be hard at this particular time of the year. I had a brand new stock of Live Target Mullet swim bait, Live Target Pinfish, Z-man EZ Shrimp in a few colors, and a good many D.O.A Shrimp. So I had all my gear squared away, and the plan laid in my head, day break could not come soon enough.
The next morning I woke up bright and early and ripping with energy, so I loaded up my kayak and headed up to the 3rd street boat ramp. This is where I typically put in when I paddle at Pawleys Island, and this is also where I am most familiar with the fishing grounds. As I pulled up to the boat ramp I was super excited to see my local buddy Johnny Wingfall there getting ready to take a few guys out on guided kayak fishing trip. As Johnny and I “shot the bull” and talked about the fishing and tides, I was eager to get out on the water. If you ever looking for a solid group of guide to hook you up properly on some of Pawleys Islands best fishing then look up Mike Eady, Johnny Wingfall, and the crew at Yak Fishing Guides.
I stepped into the refreshing water and glided my kayak away from the shore, I was instantly put at ease and felt very relaxed to be out on some of my favorite waters. The tide was still rising and was coming in quickly, so Johnny suggested I work the grass line. I ferry my boat over to a long and lush grass line and started working the Live Target Pinfish. The third cast I had a solid strike on the bait, but no hook-up. Not sure if it was my fault or if the fish just made a quick strike at it, more than likely I was caught up in my peaceful state of mind.
As I focused my full attention back onto the task at hand, I changed over to the Live Target Mullet. After tossing it around and moving to a few new locations on the North side of the inlet, I was not having any luck. So as the tides held at the max, I switched over my bait over to the D.O.A Shrimps. This is one of my favorite lures for saltwater fishing, and I quickly made my way over to the side of the inlet where there are a lot of docks to target. I let the current gently drift me by a lot of docks, as I made countless casts at them looking for that hungry Red Drum, but still no luck.
It was about at this time I started to think that maybe I should not have come out here with the mind set of going all artificial. But not wanting to just waste my day away I did some exploring on new waters, and tried to hit up a few of my honey holes, but still no luck, and I could smell the skunk coming, but never the less I was certainly enjoying my time out on the water.
As it reached about 2:00pm I made my way to my last local hot spot. I have landed a ton of trout on this location in the fall and winter, but I could not leave without trying to hook up on something. I quietly approached my location form the south and faced my boat northward, so the out going tide would carry me along the beautiful green grass line. As I pitched towards an underwater oyster rake I was anticipating a bite, but all of a sudden the bottom fell out of the sky.
Before I knew it the sky turned dark, thunder was rolling over my head, and then the lighting started striking. I was fortunate that I was only about half mile from the landing. I quickly lowered my rods and tucked them in the floor of my kayak, and made a bee-line for my Tacoma. Once I made it to the landing I looked like a wet rat with a bright orange YakAttack shirt on with a HUK Gaiter. When I looked at myself in my truck window all I could is just laugh at how silly I looked.
Well the day did not go as I hoped or planned, but I like I said before I was excited to be out on the water. My drive back to PPV is very short, but I had time to think about my game plan for the following day. I arrived back at our condo still drenched from the downpour I just took. I decided to clean the boat and all of my gear. After about an hour or so of taking care of my cleaning duties, I changed clothes and ran up to the Publix to grab 1.5lbs of fresh shrimp. This was going to be my go-to tactic for the next day of fishing, and I knew I had to get this skunk off of my back.
I grew up and spent a lot of quality time the last 2 years of my fathers life fishing up and down Pawleys Island Village pier. I woke up at the crack of dawn the next morning, and instead of heading back to the saltwater creeks I decided to go “walk the plank” of the pier. This is not your typical average pier, it is a private full size pier lined with cleaning stations, and two huge live bait tanks at the end of the pier under a covered area. Kings, Tarpon, Flounder, Reds, Trout, Black Drums, and Sheephead all hangout around the pier. And the memories I have of my dad and I fishing for Kings, Drums, Flounder, and Trout will never be forgotten.
I made my way up to an area right behind the breakers and started jigging the bottom with some fresh shrimp. After having a few Pinfish mess with my bait, I made my way up the pier to deep water. This time I started vertical jigging and even pitching under the pier, and all of a sudden my rod started screaming drag, and my pulse went to about 150bpm. I leaned over the pier to get the fish to come out into open water, I tightened down on my drag ever so slightly and the fish rolled to the surface to expose itself to me. My 13 Fishing Black Omen was doubled up and I was grinning ear-to-ear with the sight of a huge Black Drum trashing about. Before I knew the beast made another run under the pier and wrapped me up around a piling. I tried my absolute best to get the black beauty back into open water, but before I could my line snapped.
At this point most folks would have been disappointed or upset, but instead I was thrilled because I knew there were fish in the area I was about to get on them. I quickly baited my line back up and tossed a few times where I just lost the battle with the black drum, but no luck. I made a decision to move out to my fathers hotspot on the left corner of the pier. As I made my first cast at my dad’s spot I could feel his presence with me, and said “come on pops I know you are here, let’s get on some fish.” I made a long cast of the left corner and started to jig the fresh cut shrimp back in, and bam fish on. I quickly landed a nice size Croaker, so I made another cast in the exact same spot, and booooom another Croaker. I laughed to myself and looked up to the sky and said “I knew you were here with me, pops.” Cast after cast for about an hour I set there and landed croaker after croaker. It is always super funny and exciting when you find any fish schooled up, it is non-stop action.
After the croaker bite slowed down, I made my way back behind the breakers. I made a short cast right into the white water of the wave with a nice tug on the line and the drag singing a tune I hauled in a 15″ Red Drum. My line was trashed by this point so I made a new set-up, and put a piece of fresh shrimp on my hook. The tide was moving out, so I moved out with it just a little, and zipped a long cast out into the breakers again. About half way back to the pier my shrimp got crushed, and I had a great little battle on my hands with another Red. After a exciting little battle I hauled in a 16″ Spot Tail, and I was on cloud nine.
It was getting super hot and late in the afternoon, and I was ready to head in to cool down, but I knew I wanted to try target the spot where I lost the Black Drum earlier. I presented my bait by vertical jigging just like before, and the tip of my rod started twitching and I set the hook. This time I pulled up a unique and beautiful Searobin. I was captivated by the color of the eyes, and the different patterns of this creature. It was not the biggest catch of the day, but it sure was epic looking.
While I sit her reflecting on these two days of fishing at a special location to me, I cannot help but to think about my dad, the locals, the scene, and the beauty of Pawleys Island. If your are looking for great fishing, world-class people, killer food, and a laid back environment, then do not let this destination pass you by…..Pawleys Island will always have a special place in my soul!