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Charleston Fishing Report

Charleston Fishing Report – August 2017

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Charleston is a great place to be fishing! No matter what type of fish you want to catch, they are all active and biting. Fishing for redfish and trout remains strong even with increasingly warmer water temperatures. Seasonal species like spanish mackerel, ladyfish, bluefish and shark are plentiful as well!

We’ve been targeting redfish with artificial lures especially around low tide. The longer jerk shad lures (4”-5” inches) are quite productive. We have been favoring lures in natural hues of silver and grey. Try using flutter hooks that not only put more action on the lure but land softer than a jighead. Remember to vary your rate of retrieve until you find what works best.

Popping corks remain the best choice when targeting trout. Bait stealers have been vicious and a live shrimp barely makes it a few seconds. We have been sticking with mud minnows paired with size 1 circle hooks. Popping corks can be hard to recover once hung up on structure or around shell rakes. A trick that will save you time and money is attaching a 20 pound test line to the top of the cork and attaching a 15 pound test line to the hook from the bottom of the cork. When you pull hard, the line will snap at the hook and you will get your cork back.

While you have those popping corks out, be ready to get hit hard by ladyfish! These fish have really come in with the warmer water and are very aggressive. Don’t be surprised if your corks get hit once or twice in rapid succession until the hook finds the softer part of their mouth. Their strong runs and frequent jumps make these perfect for kids!

Sharks fish well irrespective of the temperature and our waters are full of them. Even in the afternoon heat, they will be cruising looking for easy prey. With lots of smaller sharks and other creatures pecking away at live and cut bait, we have at times been fishing an entire live blue crab on a 7/0 circle hook. You’ll have lots of drops but the sharks that hang on are the big ones!

See you on the water!

Charleston Fishing Report – July 2017

By | Fishing, Fishing Report

Great fishing conditions are finally consistently here! Days full of sunny weather and warm temperatures have made our fishery come alive. Bait is abundant and eager fish are chasing it down. A whole host of options is now available to anglers through the combination of seasonal species and the traditional targets of redfish and trout.

In July, there will be a number of very high tides in the evening. Redfish can access areas usually unavailable on normal tides and fishermen can see the tails and backs of redfish as they put their noses in the mud to hunt for fiddler crabs. These tides are called “tailing tides” and provide amazing sight fishing opportunities. Watching a redfish explode in skinny water when you set the hook is truly a sight to behold.

While popping corks are always a go to option for trout, don’t forget that artificial lures can be very productive as well. Trout have been crushing lures that mimic small baitfish. The Z-man 3 ¾” streakz in smoky shad is a great choice. Paired with a 1/4oz. jighead, these lures work best bumped slowly along the bottom. Trout will usually strike when the lures rise as you lift them up in a jigging motion.

Spanish mackerel are showing up! These fish are especially present in the harbor and can be best found at first light. If you find schools of fish knifing across the surface, throw reflective casting jigs (1/2oz. or smaller) and reel them quickly through the school. If you know fish are present but not up top, try trolling Clark Spoons at different speeds and depths. Remember to always check your leader as it only takes catching a few of these toothy fish to make it fray.

In the summertime, sharks are pervasive in our waters. Menhaden and cracked blue crab are great for bait but chunks of fresh cut ladyfish and bluefish work very well too. Look to fish ledges where there is a sharp change in water depth. As an added bonus, you also stand the chance to find a large bull redfish at the end of your line!

See you on the water!

Charleston Fishing Report – June 2017

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It’s a fantastic time to be fishing here in Charleston! The usual suspects, redfish and trout, are now complimented by a host of seasonal species including spanish mackerel, ladyfish and sharks. Combined with warmer temperatures, the fishing conditions are now excellent.

Redfish have been making quick work of any well placed bait. Make sure to carry your cast net and try catching some menhaden or finger mullet. We’ve been having the most success around rock walls, docks and other structures while fishing live bait on a carolina rig. Make sure to use a weight heavy enough to hold the bait stationary, otherwise your rig will slide along the bottom until it snags.

As for trout, not much new here. Popping corks remain the way to go. Surprisingly, mud minnows have been outperforming live shrimp under corks. Usually, it is the other way around. If little fish keep picking at your live shrimp, switch over to a D.O.A. 3” artificial shrimp. Their Glow/Gold Rush Belly color has been quite productive.

Anglers focused on flounder have been reporting good numbers being caught. Work finger mullet along the bottom around structures. Move the bait slowly along and when you think you have a bite wait a few seconds before setting the hook. We’ve been picking up quite a few flounder with mud minnows under a popping cork as well.

My favorite summer time fish is the ladyfish. With the warmer weather, ladyfish will flood our waters. These exciting fish will smack bait under a popping cork and make your drag zing. Their acrobatic jumps and hard runs make these fish so entertaining. You’ll find them in some of the same spots that you find trout.

See you on the water!

Charleston Fishing Report – May 2017

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What a great time to be fishing! With our waters now teeming with bait, the fish have strapped the feedbags on and are eating heartily. All the summer seasonal species have arrived and when combined with our traditional gamefish, provide a whole host of options for an angler. If your fishing season hasn’t yet begun, there’s no better time to start.

As the water temperatures climb, redfish are becoming more active and attacking artificial lures. Jerk shad lures rigged on flutter hooks are my go to option. These artificial lures, usually 4″-5″ in length, imitate small baitfish. Flutter hooks have a weight on their shank that let you cast a far distance and also put motion on the lure. I use flutter hooks in size 3/0 with a 1/8oz. weight.  Make sure to cast to the edges of the schools, if you cast right into the middle you stand a good chance of spooking them.

Per usual, it’s that time of year for topwater trout action at first light. Heddon’s Super Spook Jr. in their silver mullet color works great but my favorite is the chartreuse and black. Vary retrieve speeds as you work these lures back to the boat. This is a lure that you should reel tight to the fish before raising your rod tip. Good luck with that as a violent boil erupts around your lure! Once the topwater bite fades, suspended twitch bait lures can keep things going for a little while longer.

Sharks have returned to our waters and several species like bonnetheads, sharpnose and black tips are already prevalent. You’ll start to see the fins of sharks slicing through the water as they seek out prey in skinny water and also find them foraging along drop offs in the harbor and inlets. Chunks of blue crab, cut bait and live shrimp both work well on these predators. I favor 7/0 circle hooks and just put the rods in the holders. Fishing for sharks can be a great way to get younger anglers involved as sharks are usually hungry and put up great fights

See you on the water!

Charleston Fishing Report – April 2017

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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!

Charleston Fishing Report – March 2017

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The warmest weather that I can remember has been terrific for our fishery. Higher than normal water temperatures have made for some productive fishing. I never thought I would say this but there has been a decent trout bite in February! With days filled with sun and 70 degree weather, anglers have to get out there to take advantage.

Having spent the last few months laying low and avoiding dolphins, redfish are transitioning from a period focused simply on preservation to now becoming predators again. With redfish still in big schools of up to hundreds of fish, the best fishing will be at low tide when you can sight cast to them. These fish are still spooky so stealth is of upmost importance when approaching a school. Oftentimes, it pays to anchor up when you find a school and wait for them to return to you instead of chasing them down.

With these reds being so wary, I try to disturb the water as little as possible and keep my casting to a minimum. When this happens, it’s time to soak some cut bait. I’ll put chunks of frozen mullet or blue crab 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.

As trout become more active, popping corks cast along grass banks and over oyster beds will be a good bet paired with mud minnows. I usually use a 18”-24” leader and a size 1 circle hook. When working the popping cork, always try to keep slack out of your line and when that cork drops just reel to set the hook. You’ll find that the circle hook will rarely miss as long as your line is tight

See you on the water!

Charleston Fishing Report – November 2016

By | Fishing, Uncategorized

Charleston Fishing Report

Fishing has continued to be quite good this Fall and anglers can expect it to improve in November. Lower water temperatures combined with chilly mornings remind redfish and trout that it is time to eat  before all the food disappears with the onset of Winter. Take some time with the family to go fishing around the Thanksgiving holiday and make the most of what our fishery offers.

Per usual, redfish have begun to congregate in big schools that will only grow larger. Reds gather together for protection in numbers from dolphins. Dolphins, who do not slow down in the Winter, find sluggish redfish to be easy prey. Finding and casting to pods of 50-100 redfish can be exhilarating and even make your knees tremble on the bow. Smaller jerk shad artificial lures rigged on 1/8oz. jigheads have proven to be quite effective.

You won’t even need to change your lure when you decide to target trout. The same rig of an artificial lure on a jighead produces just fine here as well. If you catch one trout, there will likely be plenty of others nearby. Move your lure slowly as the fish are moving slowly too. If possible, try to bounce the jighead off the bottom and set the hook when you feel the resistance of a striking fish. Lures in darker hues of blue and gray are performing the best.

For the angler with a fly rod, the focus switches from tailing tides to the large schools of redfish on the flats at low tide. Darker flies are working well but don’t be afraid to throw some copper flies with lots of flash. Above everything else, make sure to take your time and approach these fish quietly as even a modest disturbance will send these spooky fish scrambling away.

See you on the water!

Charleston Fishing Report – October 2016

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Charleston Fishing Report

Fall has arrived with shorter days and cooler weather. But don’t put your boat away just yet because we’re about to experience the best fishing of the year! Fishermen can continue to find success with live bait but artificial lures should become increasingly effective. Make time to get out on the water, you won’t regret it.

Redfish have been eagerly eating live and cut bait fished on the bottom. Mullet and menhaden are pervasive in our waters and can be easily netted. We’ll rig the bait on a size 3/0 circle hook paired with a carolina rig. You can use this setup under docks as well as on the flats. Just put the rod in the holder and wait for the reel to start screaming as the fish hook themselves.

Artificial lures have begun to really produce for trout and the traditional paddle tail design has been great. I’ll use a 1/4oz. jighead and tie a loop knot to give the lure even more action. Vary your rate of retrieve as you search for pockets of fish. To make your lure even more attractive, try putting a piece of shrimp on the hook. You can use pieces of live or frozen shrimp and it will put a scent trail on your lure that is hard to resist.

Even as artificial lures become more effective, keep tossing those popping corks. Mud minnows, live shrimp and artificial shrimp have been working well when suspended about 18″-24″ below the cork. Redfish and trout alike will eat these baits as they pass by suspended in the water column. Corks have been working best fished along grassy banks at mid and high tide.

With the cooler weather, redfish are beginning to form bigger schools. These large schools make for excellent sight fishing and happy fly fishermen. On clear days, you can see these packs of redfish swimming in circles with their golden backs flashing in the sun. Take your time when approaching the schools and when you make your first shot make sure to cast to the edges so as not to spook the school.

See you on the water!

Charleston Fishing Report – September 2016

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Charleston Fishing Report

The perfect storm that makes fishing so great in the fall is about to begin. The combination of lower water temperatures, tons of bait and fewer fishermen on the water makes for fantastic conditions. The fact that cooler days will make fishing much more pleasant doesn’t hurt either!

Many different approaches will work this time of year and popping corks are a favorite. An angler can catch so many different types of fish: redfish, trout, flounder, ladyfish, shark etc. I use a weighted popping cork so I can increase the distance of my cast. Then I put an 18″-24″ fluorocarbon leader from the cork to a size 1 circle hook. Mud minnows, shrimp and artificial shrimp all work well as baits.

When focusing on redfish, we begin to use artificial lures as Fall approaches. Jerk shad lures paired with flutter hooks are my go-to option. Usually 4″-5″ in length, these lures imitate small baitfish. Flutter hooks have a weight on their shank that produces really great action. Try flutter hooks in size 3/0 with a 1/8oz. weight and lures in natural hues like silver and grey.

For trout, the topwater bite has been very strong first thing in the morning. I’ve tried lots of options but I overwhelmingly use Super Spook Jr’s. My favorite colors are black head/ chartreuse body and silver shad. Alternate your rate of retrieve until you find one that works. Don’t be surprised if every now and then a big redfish takes a swipe!

Ladyfish, a personal favorite, are more plentiful than any year I can recall. We’ve spent many charters watching ladyfish blow up balls of bait heading toward the boat. Toss a live mud minnow or shrimp in their path and get ready for some great action. These acrobatic fish are very entertaining as they fly through the air. While these fish will fade as the water cools, we should still have a few more weeks of activity.

See you on the water!

Charleston Fishing Report – August 2016

By | Fishing Report, Uncategorized

Charleston Fishing Report

Even with the arrival of the heat of the summer, fishing has continued to be quite productive. By leaving first thing in the morning, anglers will tilt the odds in their favor. Once on the water, fishermen will have no shortage of options whether it is stalking redfish on the flats or chasing some of the big toothy critters in the middle of the harbor.

Redfish have been making short work of any well placed bait. Use your cast net to grab some finger mullet or menhaden and head for structures like docks and rock groins. We’ve been fishing these live baits on carolina rigs with a 3/0 circle hook. It’s important that you use a weight heavy enough to hold the bait stationary or your rig will tumble along the bottom until it snags.

As for trout, nothing new here. Popping corks remain the way to go. Surprisingly, we’ve had better luck with mud minnows under corks than with shrimp. It usually has been the other way around. If little fish keep stealing your live shrimp, switch over to a D.O.A. 3” artificial shrimp. Their Glow/Gold Rush Belly color has been quite effective.

Anglers fishing for flounder have been reporting good success. Try fishing finger mullet along the bottom around the same structures mentioned above. When you think you have a bite try to wait a few seconds (if you can) before setting the hook. We’ve been picking up quite a few flounder with mud minnows under a popping cork as well.

Fly fishing has been interesting. We have been finding larger schools of redfish on the flats at low tide. However, they have been eating the best on high flood tides when often cruising alone or with just a few other fish. Spoon flies in copper and gold have been the way to go. Make sure that your flies have a good weed guard so you don’t get hung up in the grass.

See you on the water!

 

Capt. Geoff Bennett operates Charleston Charter Fishing providing light tackle and fly fishing 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 captain@charlestoncharterfishing.com.