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Fall Days On The Water - North Inlet, South Carolina

Cold Fall days spent fishing on the Carolina coast are kind of rare for me. The gap between Thanksgiving and Christmas is usually packed with work, family gatherings, holiday parties and time spent with friends here in the Upstate. So when a good friend called me and said we should block off a weekend in early December to go fishing at the beach, I jumped at the opportunity to enjoy a cool day on the water. 
The North Inlet Estuary is a pristine landscape of salt marshes and tidal creeks on the north side of Winyah Bay. Winyah Bay is on the South Carolina coast near Georgetown and is one of the largest watersheds on the eastern seaboard. North Inlet is more protected and less developed than the rest of Winyah Bay and offers great opportunities for fishing, hunting, and general adventuring in a boat. On a bright blue late Fall day with the wind whipping through the Spartina Grass, it's a wonderful place to chase redfish, trout, and flounder. With the right tide and weather, it can also be a great place to shoot marsh hens. When the intention is to both fish and hunt the trip is known as a cast and blast. We were unsuccessful at finding any birds to shoot but we caught some fish and enjoyed the beauty of this amazing watershed in near total privacy. I think throughout the entire day we only saw 5 other boats.
Fishing on the coast can be a challenge for people who don't live there year round. Like fishing anywhere, the more you do it, the better your results tend to be. I've spent time fishing South Carolina's coastal waters almost every Summer since I was little, but my knowledge of what to fish with and where to do it is surprisingly limited. My buddy spends much more time on the coast and he had us set up perfectly to catch a few fish. We bumped mud minnows along the bottom and sight casted artificial baits, catching redfish and flounder on the incoming tide. We kept hoping to see or hear a marsh hen or two, but I guess it just wasn't to be. These birds seem to be nowhere when you're looking for them and everywhere when you aren't. Still, we saw lots of bird activity all day including Herons, Oystercatchers, Pelicans, Loons, Sandpipers, Gulls, and even a Bald Eagle cruising over the inlet late in the day.
North Inlet is like a giant playground for sportsmen. It's more difficult to get to than other parts of Winyah Bay, but it's worth the effort. More than 180 species of fish have been identified here and the estuary is a perfect habitat for spawning game fish. The sunset over Winyah Bay wasn't too bad either. For me, a cool day on the water fighting fish and telling stories is about as good as it gets.
Happy holidays from the H. Goose team. I hope you enjoy some great days outside with friends and family as we close out the year. 
-Harris

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