We left out of Folly Beach this morning hoping to find some shelter from forecasted strong NE winds. Tucked away in a corner with the wind and current together, we found a great bite while pitching bait around structure. The return of cracked blue crab proved to be popular with the redfish and drew the most hits. Once the tide turned and the wind went against the current, the whole place shut down. However, not before Mike landed a nice ten pound redfish, his biggest ever!
Fishing a fast falling tide, we started out with docks but the water was rushing out too quickly. Once the water slowed down, we moved out onto the flats and set out cut mullet and mud minnows on the bottom. As a school of reds moved over the baits, the mullet rod twinged and then the mud minnow rod snapped over! After a long fight on a light rod, Miller brought the redfish alongside the boat. It weighed in at a healthy ten pounds and swam away healthy.
We started the charter with one big redfish, a 9lb. beauty, and the trip just picked up from there. Our next stop produced several reds and a weakfish from under a dock. Moved to another dock and caught at least a dozen more reds with multiple double hookups. Everything caught on mud minnows either on the bottom or on jig heads. As we headed for home, we left them biting!
Gary, a regular client, loves to be casting as much as possible during his charters. After throwing artificials at hundreds of redfish only to see them sprint away, we agreed that putting out cut bait and waiting might be the best option. Boy, did it ever pay off! Our first fish was a huge 31″ redfish and was Gary’s biggest redfish ever. With this beauty in the bag, we switched back over to casting around docks with mud minnows on jigheads and caught smaller redfish for the rest of the charter.
It has been a long cold Winter but warmer times have started to come around. During many charters, it never got much out of the 30s and those were hard earned fish. After a run of days with highs in the 70s, it’s easy to get excited about fishing again! Rising water temperatures and the return of bait should provide plenty of action.
Redfish remain in massive schools numbering in the hundreds as they try to avoid dolphins and stay warm. You’ll find these schools on mud flats as well as shallow banks that provide cover. On sunny days, redfish are especially drawn to the flats as the mud retains an extra few degrees of warmth. You’ll find the best fishing tends to be around low tide when these reds are balled up tight together.
During this time of year, these big schools of redfish can be wary and spook when a lure hits the water. When this happens, it’s best to soak some cut bait. I’ll put chunks of frozen mullet on size 3/0 circle hooks and just let it sit on the bottom until the redfish swim over it. Put your rod in the rod holder and resist the urge (if at all possible!) to set the hook when you see a fish begin to eat. The circle hook will do all the work for you and when your reel starts to sing you are in business.
It will be interesting to see if the trout bite starts in March based on how cold the past two months have been. Working artificial lures slowly across the bottom will be your best bet. Plastic lures that are 3″-4″ long and imitate small minnows are a good choice. For color, stick with grey and silver hues that most resemble bait. Paired with a 1/4oz. jighead, the combination should be very effective when the trout return.
This a great time of year for fly fishing as a softly presented fly won’t send a school of redfish fleeing for cover. Sight fishing abounds and stalking a school of a hundred plus redfish is so exciting you almost fall off the bow with anticipation. Smaller flies in lighter colors are working best and a clouser minnow is a fine example. Remember when the fish hits, resist the temptation to lift your rod tip and strip strike instead.
See you on the water!
Capt. Geoff Bennett operates Charleston Charter Fishing providing fly fishing and light tackle charters. Clients choose from a full menu of fly rods, artificial and live bait fishing options with charters tailored to their desires. USCG licensed and insured, Capt. Bennett is committed to providing a safe and enjoyable charter to anglers of all skill levels and ages. For more information, call Capt. Bennett at 843-324-3332, visit his website at www.charlestoncharterfishing.com or email him at email@example.com.