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!
The lucky recipient of a fishing charter for his birthday, Art and his friend Michael joined me on a sunny afternoon. The goal was sight fishing both sides of low tide. Using small jerk shad artificials on jigheads, we began to stalk redfish in skinny water. Michael struck first by landing a nice eight pounder. As the winds increased to a steady 15+, we lost visibility and would post up casting into the schools of reds. Even in choppy waters, jerk shad continued to produce. The birthday boy is pictured above with the biggest fish of the day!
We had been working a dock for the better part of an hour but it had been twenty minutes since the last bite. We decided to sit down and have a drink and of course one of the rods immediately snapped over. John grabbed it and after several minutes the red had us wrapped around something on the bottom. I assumed we were done for but miraculously the fish came free! After another few minutes of tugging, John dredged up this slab of a redfish. Another victim of the newly available cracked blue crab.
Caught a break in the weather and had a morning full of sun with little wind. No problems seeing the big schools of redfish circling on the flats at low tide. Found groups of reds literally a hundred strong who wanted nothing to do with our artificial lures. Once we staked up and put out cut mullet, it was a different story as we would hook into a redfish every time the school drifted over our way. As noon approached and the water warmed, artificials began to work and as we poled down a bank we put another half dozen fish in the boat.
My clients had clear cut instructions for our charter. After catching lots of smaller reds on their own, they wanted to target big redfish. We left the dock at first light in order to fish as much of low tide as possible. We stopped where I had been catching good sized reds and started casting popping corks while fishing cut mullet out the back of the boat. Non stop action for two hours ensued with reds hitting both kinds of bait. Will landed a handsome 26″ redfish, his biggest fish ever, but Lacey stole the show by reeling a sweet 10 pound redfish, her biggest fish ever as well. Great job!
Ray and Marv came up from Florida for another three days of fishing. They had some specific goals in mind and we met them all! First day was for quantity and the duo landed 30-40 rat reds on mud minnows under corks. Second day was sight fishing on the flats where we saw tons of backs and tails crushing bait in the skinny water. These fish had a preference for cracked blue crab and we caught reds up to 9lbs. Third day was docks where we managed to dredge out fish up to ten pounds. A great run!