A day after a new moon, we were faced with a ripping tide that would drop over six feet in four hours. Started out by working docks with mud minnows on jigheads and caught redfish up to seven pounds. Moved over to the flats and threw out cut mullet. The current kept the lines taught so when a fish hit it was violent! Landed several nice redfish including a thirteen pounder.
Warm weather has arrived and with it comes a host of seasonal species like shark, ladyfish and bluefish. Our traditional targets, redfish and trout, are hungry as ever as bait fills our waters. Our fishery is teeming with life and opportunities for anglers are endless. You have more reasons now than ever to get fishing!
It’s time to make the most of live bait when fishing for redfish. Menhaden is a favorite choice whether fished live or as cut bait. We’ve caught some huge redfish by pitching chunks of menhaden under docks. You’ll need to use enough weight to hold your bait in place so it doesn’t drift and get snagged. I use pinch-on split shot that can be easily adjusted, just add or remove these weights as needed.
Now’s the time of year to start thinking about topwater trout action at first light. My favorite lure is a Heddon’s Super Spook Jr. in chartreuse and black while an easy fallback is their silver mullet color. Make sure to try a variety of retrieval speeds as you work these lures. When that trout hits, resist the temptation to lift the rod tip and reel the fish tight instead. It’s hard to beat those fantastic strikes!
Spanish mackerel are beginning to show up, especially in the harbor, and can be best found at first light. If you find schools of fish slashing across the surface, throw reflective casting jigs and reel them quickly through the school. Alternatively, if you know fish are present but not up top, try trolling Clark Spoons at different depths and different speeds. Remember to check your leader often as it only takes catching a few of these teethy fish to cut through it.
Per usual, sharks have returned to our waters with the warmer water temperatures. Just watch the shoreline and you’ll see bonnethead sharks slicing through the water as they seek out prey. These predators will eat most anything, but chunks of blue crab and live shrimp can be especially productive. Shark fishing is an easy way to get younger anglers involved as sharks are usually hungry and put up great fights.
See you on the water!
Troy was fired up to come fishing having had to cancel his prior charter due to illness. At our first spot, reds hit cut mullet immediately but the bite faded as the water drained off the flats. We moved to docks and started working deep holes with bait on the bottom. Cut mullet produced again as we winched each redfish out from among the many pilings. Troy had the biggest red of the day and was very happy he booked another trip!
Last night, Tim looked at today’s forecast and knew he needed to get out on the water. The day turned out to be brilliantly sunny with highs in the 70s. We fished the falling tide in hopes of intercepting the reds as they came out of the grass. Even with a ripping current, cut mullet still did the trick. At the first spot, one of the rods in the back of the boat snapped over and a few minutes later Sam had the redfish of the day, a 29″ beauty.
Wonderful sunny weather has continued day after day making for awesome fishing conditions. With all this warm weather, it’s no surprise that our fishery is 4-6 weeks ahead of schedule. The water is teeming with bait and anglers can expect April to be a fantastic month of fishing.
The large schools of redfish found throughout the winter are breaking up as these fish become more active. Anglers should think about using artificial plastic lures that mimic baitfish. One good choice would be “jerk shad” lures that have become very popular and come in a variety of colors. I’ve been finding that hues of silver and blue have been working best and produce even when water clarity is poor. These lures work best rigged on a size 3/0 flutter hook.
The trout bite should really begin in earnest this April. With water temperatures so warm, it’s hard to believe they won’t become aggressive feeders before too long. The preferred rig of live bait under a popping cork is hard to beat. Live shrimp is now available and will give you another option than mud minnows. It’s a good idea to start carrying your cast net and see if you can find some finger mullet. Finger mullet under a cork is just deadly.
Flounder, perhaps our tastiest fish, are now present and eating. We’ve been catching them mostly when fishing with mud minnows on the bottom or mud minnows under popping corks. You’ll need to focus on structure when targeting flounder. Docks and pilings are good places to prospect. Flounder will hug the bottom in hopes of ambushing their prey, so you’ll need to keep that bait down and in their strike zone.
See you on the water!
At the landing, I told Allie and Stephan that the heavy rain may continue for an hour or more and tomorrow had a sunny forecast if they would like to switch dates. They looked down the barrel of some daunting conditions and said let’s do it. The rain did let up but more importantly the bite turned on and made us forget about our soaked clothes. Had redfish eat both cut mullet and cracked blue crab. With water temperatures hovering in the mid 40s, the fish were still finicky. Countless times the rod tips would bend over in the rod holders only to go slack after the fish dropped the bait. Lots of respect for Allie and Stephan putting nice redfish in the boat on a challenging day!
We waited until 10am to fish a relatively balmy 60+ degrees and let the sun warm up the water on the flats. Starting at dead low our goal was finding big schools of redfish. Joe wanted to throw popping corks but his wife, Melanie, thought it would be a bit much for the spooky fish. Instead, we tossed out chunks of fresh cut mullet and the bite started right away. The redfish were so sluggish that the rod tips would bounce slightly in the holders but the fish would only run once we brought the lines tight ourselves. Biggest red of the day was a 12 pounder with several other healthy fish to boot.
One of the warmest Winters on record has our fishery set to get going early this year. You could even say it never fully turned off as days in the 70s have kept water temperatures far higher than normal. Bait fish that are usually nonexistent have been present and kept the redfish active. Trout should be ramped up and ready to go in March. It’s time to break out your rods and reels and get ready for a great season!
Having spent the last few months laying low and avoiding dolphins, redfish are no longer just focused on simply surviving but now on feeding as well. Low tide will be the best time to focus on big schools of redfish that can number in the hundreds. These fish are still pretty wary, so a quiet approach is very important. On many days, it pays to settle in one spot when you find a school and wait for them to return to you instead of pushing them away.
When these reds are being spooky, I’ll try to disturb them as little as possible by keeping my casting to a minimum. This is a time to fish with bait on the bottom. I’ll put a chunk of blue crab or frozen mullet on a size 3/0 circle hook and just let it sit until the redfish swim over it. Make sure the barb of your hook is fully through the bait and exposed. Place your rod in the rod holder and wait for it to whip over once the circle hook sets itself!
As trout begin to appear, popping corks cast along grass banks and over oyster beds will be a good bet paired with mud minnows. I usually pair a size 1 circle hook with an 18”-24” fluorocarbon leader. While there is no shortage of options, I use oval shaped corks that are heavier and can be cast further. When using a popping cork, do your best to keep slack out of your line and when that cork goes under just reel to set the hook. You’ll find that the circle hook seldom misses as long as your line is tight.
See you on the water!
Visiting from Germany, Julia had fishing on her list of things to do in Charleston. We set out early on a sunny morning searching for her first redfish. The big schools of reds weren’t hard to find but getting them to eat required alot of patience. We posted up and tossed chunks of cut mullet on circle hooks. At our second spot, a school of redfish blew up as they approached the boat and then one of the rods doubled over. Julia played the fish like a pro. Before long, she had landed herself a beautiful seven pounder!
Sixty degrees and sunny has become a rare commodity this Winter but we were blessed with it today. Another day of light winds combined to make for stellar conditions. Pulled up to a flat that I knew had a huge school of big redfish. It took awhile to locate them but when we did it turned out to be an epic thing. The bite was constant with redfish eating cut mullet cast close to the bank. Average fish was in the 8-10lb. class and Sue set the mark for the biggest red of the year with this sweet fourteen pounder!