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.
Even fishing guides need to take a trip once in awhile so we headed down to South Louisiana in search of bull redfish. We were certainly not disappointed! The reds started around 3ft. and some broke 40″. An amazing sight to see a fish so large take a popping cork in three feet of water. We’ll be sure to make this a regular journey!
With huge tides and muddy water making for some tough inshore fishing, I asked Matthew what he thought about sharks. He replied that catching a shark would make his year. Off we went! Caught bonnetheads, sharpnose and blacktip consistently on cut shad. Needless to say, Matthew was happy!
Having never caught redfish before, Tim and Sam started out with a bang! The pair simultaneously landed two solid 11 pound reds while dodging each other, dock pilings and exposed rocks. Hard to top that experience but we continued the day with more reds and legal trout that hit mud minnows under corks. Great job guys!
Jeff already had the bug for targeting big redfish and this time he brought his Dad along too. Eating heartily ahead of the big storm system, reds whipped the rods over again and again. Cut mullet was the bait of choice. By the end of the charter, the redfish averaged over ten pounds while David set the bar with a 13 pounder, his biggest fish ever!
Charleston was set to bypass Winter and cruise straight into Spring up until the last two weeks. Abnormally chilly weather sent the water temperatures plummeting and made the bite slow down. Redfish hung in there but trout seemed to go back to their normal slumber. With April however, rising temperatures combined with the arrival of baitfish will get things cranking again!
While redfish remain in large schools, they will begin to break up as the water warms. These fish will leave survival mode and become active feeders once again. Over the last few weeks, redfish have been finicky with artificial baits but this should improve. Jerk shad rigged on flutter hooks as well as paddle tail grubs on jigheads will both be effective. Try colors that mimic the natural hues of baitfish like such as silver, grey and translucent blue.
When redfish are hesitant, a great solution is to throw chunks of freshly cracked blue crab. Blue crab is simply redfish candy and bait that is rarely refused. Remove the top of the shell, the pinchers and the legs and cut the remainder down the middle. I use size 3/0 circle hooks and put the hook through the bottom flipper hole. This setup will work on the flats, under docks and anywhere redfish are holding. Put the rod in the rod holder and don’t pick it up until the reel is screaming!
The trout bite will begin in earnest this April. 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. Remember to vary the rate of your retrieve and don’t be afraid to let the current take your cork well past the back of your boat.
See you on the water!
Started as the tide began to fall and had some luck around docks. Once the tide started rolling the popping corks started dropping! Trout ate both live shrimp and mud minnows with our biggest trout at 3lbs. Headed to the flats where reds were happy to hit cut mullet. Things went so well that Jake even let his dad catch a few. Make Charleston family fishing a part of your next vacation!
Wind, wind, wind as the cold front sits upon us. Headed to the docks to take cover. Turned out to be a great call. Big reds smoked cut mullet especially once the water starting falling. Had to dial the drags down as tight as possible to even stand a chance. Heaviest of the day came in at 14lbs! More productive Isle Of Palms fishing charters.