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A line in the creek: Top Pawleys fishing spot is no secret

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

For most fishermen on Pawleys Creek, no boat is no problem. They can put a hook right in the middle any time from the North Causeway bridge.

There’s plenty of room on the shoulder to stand at the bridge’s retaining wall and drop a line in search of supper or just some relaxing fun.

“It never ceases to amaze me how many times I drive by in a day and see somebody pulling something out of there,” said Scott Benston, owner of Surf the Earth, a water sports adventure company in Pawleys Island.

Mark Tassie, an employee at Pawleys Island Outdoors, said the bridge is a good place to catch flounder, red fish, black drum and trout near a changing tide. He prefers artificial bait but sees many anglers throwing cast nets for finger mullet. Bait is always on the move, he said.

John Carolina, who works at Perry’s Bait and Tackle, said he fishes off the North Causeway every week. “When I get off work, I come down here and fish,” he said. Early in the morning is his preferred time to catch flounder, black drum and red drum even though his job pushes his fishing time to afternoon. “You can catch it all in here, just about,” he said.

What’s the trick to catching flounder? “Run the giggers out,” Carolina said with a smile. He was using live mullet for bait and watched for a frenzy of bubbles on the water’s surface to aim his cast net. “See ’em jumping?” he asked. Carolina gets a bonus from fishing at the bridge. He can sell his extra mullet and mud minnows to the bait shop. “It’s something I do for some extra money,” he added. “I can double dip.”

Gary Adams from Phoenix, Ariz., said he found the bridge while visiting and bought himself a cast net. “It’s 116 degrees in Phoenix,” he said. “This feels good,” he said of a steady ocean breeze stirring the 90-plus degree air over the creek. He said he could use the cast net back in Arizona.

Thomas Collins of Columbia was renting the first house south of the bridge. He got into a school of red fish from his dock after following the advice of a local chef who was fishing the creek using silver shad and frozen bait. Fifty yards away on the bridge: nothing.

“Red fish, huh?” said Ray Binkowski while fishing off the bridge. Binkowski, a local, said the bridge is the most convenient place to park and fish. He’s fished the incoming tide and the outgoing tide. “You just got to be in the right place at the right time,” he said. “That’s the best way to sum it up.” He had two lines in the water. One hook had artificial bait, and the other had finger mullet. “So far today,” he said, “I haven’t been lucky. I caught a small stingray, but that’s not what I’m fishing for.”

He said he would bring his kayak to the creek soon and try to find some of those red fish. “You never know where they’re going to be,” he said. “I’ve caught them everywhere, on both sides of the bridge.”

Benston said he prefers fishing from his kayak. “I don’t fish from the bridge that much because I’m trying to go hide further away,” he said. “There’s a lot of flounder caught there, most on live bait. The best times to be there are when that tide is sucking out or right when it starts to come in again. Things pull out of that back creek and go under the bridge toward that inlet.”

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