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Charleston Fishing Report | Charleston Charter Fishing

July Fishing Report

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Could there be a better time of year to fish? There are so many species available to target and so many different ways to fish for them!  Anglers will always find something exciting to do on the water. As the days become progressively warmer, fishermen will want to fish early before the heat of the day arrives.

While the large schools of redfish have now broken up, you can still find pods of dozens of fish roaming the flats and grass banks. In order to get their attention, we have been using baits that leave a hearty scent trail in the water. Cut menhaden or cut mullet are all effective choices.  Try using size 3/0 circle hooks and just let the fish hook itself.

This season we have been catching many more “keeper” trout (over 14”) than in recent years. While popping corks are a great option, we’ve also been fishing mud minnows on jigheads. These jigheads allow us to get our bait in front of fish holding in deeper pockets. We use 1/8oz. jigheads and make sure to vary the rate of our retrieve. Bumping your bait along the bottom can be deadly.

As always, sharks are pervasive in our waters during the summertime. Cracked blue crab and menhaden are great for bait but chunks of fresh cut bluefish and ladyfish work very well too. Look to fish drop-offs where there is a sharp change in water depth. As a pleasant surprise, you also stand the chance to find a large bull redfish at the end of your line!

There will be a number of significant high tides in the evening this month. As redfish access areas usually unavailable on normal tides, fishermen can see the backs and tails of redfish as they put their noses in the mud to forage for crabs. These tides are called “tailing tides” and provide awesome sight casting opportunities. Watching a redfish explode in skinny water when you set the hook is truly a sight to behold.

See you on the water!

June Fishing Report

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Charleston-Fishing-Report

Great fishing conditions are finally consistently here! Weeks full of sunny weather and warm temperatures have made our fishery come alive. Bait is everywhere and eager fish are chasing it down. Anglers have a whole host of options now that our seasonal species have arrived to compliment the traditional targets of redfish and trout. It’s little wonder our waters are now full of fishermen waiting for “the strike”.

Fishing for redfish remains very productive. Blue crab fished on the bottom is deadly. Remove the shell and legs of a blue crab and cut the body in half. Put a size 3/0 circle hook through the hole where the flipper fin used to be and make sure the hook point is exposed. No need to hold the rod, instead put it in a rod holder. Once that rod starts to bend, don’t touch it until the drag starts screaming!

We’ve found the most consistent trout action to be on artificials instead of the traditional popping corks. Small plastic artificials that mimic small baitfish have been getting crushed. The Z-man 3 ¾” streakz in smoky shad is an excellent choice. Paired with an 1/8oz. jighead, these lures worked best bumped slowly along the bottom. Trout will usually hit when you lift them up in a jigging motion.

The flounder bite has been better than seasons in recent memory. We’ve been picking up lots of flounder with mud minnows under a popping cork. Of course, the more traditional method of fishing finger mullet along the bottom around structures is still a go-to technique. Move the bait slowly and when you think you have a bite wait a few seconds (if you can) before setting the hook.

My favorite summer time fish is the ladyfish. Ladyfish are becoming increasingly present with the warmer water. These lively 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 often catch them in the same spots you target trout.

See you on the water!

May Fishing Report

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Charleston-Fishing-Report

Our fishery is really cooking now! The arrival of seasonal species like ladyfish, bluefish and shark now compliment our redfish and trout. Look around you on the water and you’ll also find plenty of baitfish including mullet and menhaden. You have more reasons now than ever to get fishing!

Recently, we’ve been making the most of live bait when fishing for redfish. Menhaden is a favorite choice whether fished live or as cut bait. Fishing chunks of menhaden under docks has produced some very large redfish. I’ll use a carolina rig with just enough weight to keep the bait pinned to the ground so it doesn’t get snagged. I use size 3/0 circle hooks and let the redfish hook themselves.

It’s that 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. Their silver mullet color works well too. Try a variety of retrieval speeds as you work these lures. When that trout strikes, try to resist the temptation to lift the rod tip and reel the fish tight instead. It’s hard to beat those explosive strikes!

As expected, sharks have returned to our waters with the warmer water temperatures. Look along the shoreline and you’ll see the fins of bonnethead sharks slicing through the water as they seek out prey. Live shrimp and chunks of blue crab both work well on these predators. Fishing for sharks can be a great way to get younger anglers involved as sharks are usually hungry and put up great fights.

Flyfishermen will begin to focus on big high tides or “tailing tides” when the redfish are way up in the grass. This produces very exciting fishing as anglers can see the backs and tails of redfish as they put their noses in the mud to forage for crabs. Dupre’s spoon flies have been particularly effective and I like their root beer color. When casting to redfish, remember to lead the fish by several feet, hitting them square on the head will cause them to spook and race away.

See you on the water!

April Fishing Report

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Spring has arrived! With days full of sun and temperatures holding in the 70’s, our fishery is rapidly changing with many new signs of life. Trout and flounder are entering the mix and anglers now have several species to target instead of just spooky redfish. Bait is filling our waters and the fish are hungry!

Redfish are no longer focused simply on preservation but are now feeding again. Anglers should consider using artificial plastic lures that mimic bait fish. One good choice would be “jerk shad” lures that have become very popular and are available in a wide variety of colors. I’ve been finding that silver hues have been working best although I’ll occasionally throw a darker color when water clarity is poor.

As trout become more active, popping corks cast along grass banks and over oyster beds will be a good bet paired with mud minnows and live shrimp. 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 tight to set the hook. You’ll find that the circle hook will do most of the work for you.

Often considered our tastiest fish, flounder are a frequent target. 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 structures when targeting flounder. Old pilings and docks are good places to prospect. Remember that flounder will hug the bottom in hopes of ambushing their prey, so you’ll need to keep that bait down on or close to the bottom.

See you on the water!

Charleston Fishing Report – January 2021

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Charleston Fishing Report - December 2014

While traditionally this season conjures up thoughts of the holidays, don’t write off fishing until the Spring. One of our fisheries’ greatest phenomenon is taking place as the temperature drops. Redfish are building into huge schools sometimes numbering in the hundreds. Casting into a pod of redfish so big it looks like a dark cloud in the water will make any angler’s heart skip a beat.

These schools form as the redfish’s metabolism slows down with the dropping water temperature and they seek protection in numbers from the faster dolphins. The redfish will try to stay in as shallow water as possible and come up onto the flats at low tide in hopes of evading their predator. In addition, on sunny days, the mud flats will hold a few extra degrees of temperature which attracts these schools as well.

As you might expect, these fish are spooky and if chased will not eat. Once a school is located, it is often best to wait until the school eventually comes close to you. There is nothing more effective now than a chunk of cracked blue crab putting out a scent trail in the water. Rig these baits with a size 3/0 circle hook and it is imperative that the hook point come cleanly out of the bait. Put the rods in a holder and wait until the reel starts singing before you pick it up.

Bait isn’t the only way to catch these redfish. Fly fishermen have an advantage here as flies can land softly and quietly. Darker flies have been working the best with a size #2 black wiggler drawing some fantastic strikes. Should black not work don’t be afraid to rotate over to a size #2 white/chartreuse clouser minnow. As always, aim towards the edges of the school; a cast right over the middle will send the fish running for cover.

Sheepshead, also available, have begun their seasonal migration offshore although there will still be some stragglers around. You’ll want to target these fish around barnacle covered pilings or docks. Fiddler crabs and pieces of oyster have been working well. Suspend your bait vertically next to pieces of structure using a small sinker weight a short distance above your hook. The bite of these fish, sometimes referred to as “convict” fish because of their black stripes, can be difficult to detect. Given their fight and taste though, anglers find them well worth the challenge.

See you on the water!

Charleston Fishing Report – November 2020

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Charleston-Fishing-Report

Fishing in October was fantastic and we can expect November to be great as well!  Chilly nights remind redfish and trout that they had better eat soon or it will be a long few months ahead. Per usual, artificial lures become very effective as natural bait leaves our waters. Take advantage of sunny days and go catch a mess of fish!

As water temperatures dip, redfish have begun their annual phenomenon of congregating in large schools. Schools of fifty redfish will become commonplace and they can grow as large as 100+ in the depths of winter. These fish do become more wary this time of year and artificial lures can spook them on the flats. Instead of casting at the schools, we have been setting out as many as three lines with chunks of frozen mullet on #3/0 circle hooks. Eventually the redfish will find your bait and whip your rods over with some amazing hits.

For trout, artificial lures rigged on a jighead are working quite well. Trout hang together and when you catch one there will likely be others in the immediate area. Lures in darker hues of gray and blue are performing the best when paired with a 1/4oz. jighead. Remember to move your lure slowly as the fish are beginning to move slowly as well with the colder waters. Try to bounce the jighead off the bottom and wait until you feel the resistance of a striking fish.

Popping corks are still very effective for both trout and redfish. Live shrimp can be used with confidence now that the small bait stealers are gone. I’ll attach a two foot leader to the cork and a size 1 circle hook on the other end. Cast along grass banks, over oyster beds and at creek mouths and watch for that cork to dive under! It can be so hard to do but when that cork drops, reel the fish tight and let the circle hook do the work.

See you on the water!

 

Charleston Fishing Report – October 2020

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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.

After a week of very windy conditions, the weather has thankfully calmed down and water clarity is improving. Redfish will start to form larger schools and sight fishing on the flats should be great. We are throwing jerk shad artificial lures about 4″-5″ in length and in hues of grey and blue. I rig these lures on size #3/0 flutter hooks that provide great action.

Artificial paddle tail lures have begun to really produce for trout. 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. Again, we’ve been staying with darker colored artificials. 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 with artificials becoming 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.

See you on the water!

Charleston Fishing Report – September 2020

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With a perfect set of conditions in place, anglers can be confident that inshore fishing will really pick up in September. The combination of lots of bait, cooler water temperatures and less traffic on the water should make for great fishing. While most people will turn their focus to hunting and football, fishermen who save some time for wetting a line will be well rewarded.

As usual during this time of year, redfish will begin to increasingly take artificial baits. Plastic lures that mimic the minnows in our waters are very effective. Zman’s 3 ¾” streakz in smokey shad is an excellent choice. I pair this lure with a 1/8oz. jighead but conditions may call for a heavier weight. Make sure to vary your rate of retrieve as you work a spot. Sometimes just slowing down or speeding up the pace of the lure can make the bite come to life.

We continue to find our best trout bite by fishing topwater lures first thing in the morning when temperatures are cooler. Our perennial favorite lure remains the Super Spook Jr. with a black head/chartreuse body. Something about the contrast in colors seems to really get the trout fired up. As the topwater bite fades with the rising sun, try switching over to MirrOLure suspended lures and you can usually find more eager fish.

It’s not uncommon to catch bull redfish (36” inches plus) during the summer time at the jetties or at nearshore reefs. During the Fall, these same fish come increasingly more into the harbor and inlets as they track down large baitfish. Rods rigged for these fish will have heavy test braided line connected to a 50-60lb. leader and 7/0 circle hooks. Fresh chunks of mullet, menhaden or smaller fish are effective baits. Target spots where there are marked changes in depth and wait for the massive strikes!

See you on the water!

Charleston Fishing Report – August 2020

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Fishing has been very productive this summer and anglers can expect more of the same in August. During this month, it will be important to get out early or stay out late to beat the heat. Not only will it be more comfortable to fish during these times but also the high temperatures in the afternoon can put the fish down. Charters at first light have been meeting with some great success.

Popping corks are a very effective setup. You have the opportunity to catch so many different types of fish: redfish, trout, flounder, ladyfish, shark, etc. Use a weighted popping cork to increase the distance of your cast. I tie on 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.

Topwater is a fantastic option for trout when you are starting early. Do your best to get to your spot just as it is becoming light. Fish strike topwater lures based on the commotion they make on the surface and aren’t able to discern that the lure isn’t a real struggling baitfish. These lures will also catch redfish and ladyfish. Heddon’s Super Spook Jr. lures in chartreuse and black or red and white are the ticket.

The shark bite may be the most consistent of all during August as they don’t seem to mind the heat. We’ve been fishing half a blue crab with its shell left on to keep the bait from being picked apart by little fish. Large menhaden are also producing. Make sure you use enough weight to keep your bait pinned to the bottom. In the inlets and in the harbor you may need to go as heavy as four to six ounces when the current rips.

See you on the water!

Charleston Fishing Report – June 2020

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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!