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Charleston Fishing Report | Charleston Charter Fishing

Charleston Fishing Report – September 2019

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

Popping corks are often mentioned in our reports. Why? Because they work so well! Redfish, trout and flounder will all eat bait that’s suspended in the water column. I’ll attach a 18”-24” leader from the cork to a size 1 circle hook. When fishing this rig, it’s very important to keep the slack out of your line so you can react quickly when the cork drops. I keep my rod tip pointed at the cork and just reel when it drops. You’ll find your hookup rate improves compared to keeping your rod tip high and trying to set the hook by jerking back on the rod.

It is time to bid farewell to the summer seasonal species who will likely be gone by the end of the month. Meanwhile, sharks are still providing plenty of entertainment for the next few weeks. When fishing in deep water, it is crucial to use enough weight to keep your bait pinned to the bottom. Baits that are swinging around in the current usually won’t get hit. Instead of using one large 4 or 6oz. weight, I’ll use 1 or 2oz. weights attached to a slinker slide on my line to get the desired effect.

One of the upsides of fishing for sharks these days is you’ll occasionally hook into the bull redfish that are starting to appear. With the mullet run in full swing, these beasts follow the bait inshore. Cracked blue crab and fresh cut mullet make perfect baits. You’ll find these fish on ledges and drop offs in the harbor and inlets. Bites can be less frequent than with corks but with redfish measuring into the upper 30” class it is well worth your time.

See you on the water!

Charleston Fishing Report – August 2019

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Per usual, August brings warm temperatures and some great fishing. Anglers will want to fish early and late in the day for the best action. There are lots of different styles of fishing and if you choose the right ones you can stay cool and beat the heat.

If you are starting early, topwater should be a go-to option. Try to get to your spot just as it is becoming light. Fish will strike topwater lures based on the commotion they make on the surface and aren’t able to see that the lure isn’t a real struggling baitfish. These lures work well for both trout and redfish. Heddon’s Super Spook Jr. lures in chartreuse and black or red and white are the ticket.

Popping corks can be used throughout the day at all parts of the tide. Anglers enjoy them because you 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. I run an 18″-24″ fluorocarbon leader from the cork to a size 1 circle hook. When your cork drops under water, reel until you feel the weight of the fish and then lift the rod tip. Mud minnows, shrimp and artificial shrimp all work well as baits.

Regardless of the temperature, sharks are always readily available. Even in the middle of the afternoon, they will be cruising and eagerly eating. With so many bait stealers around, we have been mostly using live menhaden on a 7/0 circle hook. Inshore you can expect to find bonnetheads, sharpnose and black tip sharks. As an added bonus, you will occasionally tie into a big bull redfish!

Fly fishermen can time their fishing to evening high tides known as “tailing” tides. Redfish will get up onto grassy flats and you can see their tails in the air as they forage for food with their nose to the ground. Spoon flies with a weed guard work great in this situation. The best set of these tides occur at the end of the month.

See you on the water!

Charleston Fishing Report – July 2019

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While the weather has been quite hot, it hasn’t slowed the fishing down. Fishermen can try starting early in the morning where they can find fish chasing bait on the surface as well as lighter winds that allow them to sight fish on the flats. Evenings also offer cooler temperatures and a chance to target tailing redfish on big flood tides.

The redfish bite has been great. The large schools of redfish have now split up but you can still find pods of twenty to thirty fish, especially on the flats. Putting a scent trail in the water and an easy meal in front of redfish is a tactic likely to succeed. We usually put live mullet or cracked blue crab on the bottom with enough weight to hold it in place. Use circle hooks in size 3/0 combined with a heavy test line and watch those rods rip over!

The trout bite is getting steadily stronger. We’ve started catching a healthy number of larger trout mixed in with smaller fish. Fishing mud minnows on jigheads is quite effective and lets you get your bait in front of trout in deeper pockets. I use 1/8 oz. or 1/4oz. jigheads. You can use heavier jigheads but make sure their size is not significantly bigger than the bait. Try alternating the speed of your retrieve as you work through an area.

Spanish mackerel are plentiful and are often best found at first light. If you find schools of fish busting bait on the surface, toss reflective casting jigs and reel them quickly through the school. Move your boat gradually around the school; running through a pod of fish will put them down. If you know fish are present but not up top, try trolling Clark Spoons at different depths and different speeds.

See you on the water!

Charleston Fishing Report – May 2019

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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!

Charleston Fishing Report – April 2019

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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!

Charleston Fishing Report – March 2019

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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!

Charleston Fishing Report – November 2018

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

As water temperatures decline, redfish have begun their annual phenomenon of forming large schools. Schools of fifty redfish are common and the numbers will reach 100-150 in some cases in the depths of Winter. These fish become a little more wary this time of year and artificial lures can spook them. Instead of chasing the schools, we have been setting out as many as three lines with chunks of cut mullet or live mud minnows on Owner #3/0 circle hooks. When schools of redfish swim over your bait get ready for some ferocious strikes!

The water is teeming with shrimp – trout simply cannot get enough of them. Lots of smaller fish can’t get enough of shrimp either. When these bait stealers run rampant, I switch over to DOA 3″ artificial shrimp which I find most effective when fished underneath a popping cork. I like the glow/gold and nite glow colors which look like real shrimp in the water. When fishing a popping cork, it is important to make sure that you reel in any slack line on the water so you are ready when a fish hits.

With the most recent set of very high tides, we probably saw the last true tailing tides of the year. Sight fishermen should turn their attention to chasing the large schools of redfish on the flats. Late morning or midday low tides will be key as the flats will warm up a few degrees and make for active fish. Darker lures are working best although don’t be afraid to throw some brighter lures with lots of flash.

See you on the water!

Charleston Fishing Report – October 2018

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

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

Artificial lures have started to really work for trout and the traditional paddle tail design has been great. I’ll use a 1/4oz. Trout Eye jighead and tie a loop knot to give the lure even more action. Vary your rate of retrieve as you prospect different spots 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 frozen or live shrimp and it will put a scent trail on your lure that fish find hard to resist.

Even as artificial lures become more effective, keep tossing those popping corks. Live shrimp, mud minnows and artificial shrimp have been working great when suspended about 18″-24″ below the cork on a fluorocarbon leader and an Owner size 1 circle hook. Redfish, trout and flounder 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 colder water temperature, redfish are starting to form bigger schools. These large schools make for excellent sight fishing on low tides. On clear days, you can see these redfish swimming in circles with their golden backs flashing in the sun. Use patience 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. Jerk shad artificial lures rigged on Gamakatsu size 3/0 flutter hooks are the way to go.

See you on the water!

Charleston Fishing Report – September 2018

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The Fall is the best time to fish in Charleston as cooling water temperatures let fish know that they better eat heartily because food will begin to disappear shortly. There is still time to catch summer seasonal species like shark, Spanish mackerel and ladyfish. However, by mid-September they will begin to head out in search of warmer climates. To top it off, lots of anglers will turn their attention to hunting and football which will leave you plenty of open water!

Redfish will begin to increasingly take artificial baits as usual during this time of year. Artificial plastic lures that resemble the minnows in our waters are quite effective. Zman’s 3 ¾” streakz in smokey shad is a great choice. I pair this lure with a 1/8oz. jighead but conditions sometimes call for a heavier weight. Vary your rate of retrieve as you work a spot. Just slowing down or speeding up the pace of the lure can make the bite come to life!

When targeting trout, popping corks remain the best option. While live shrimp is an excellent choice small fish will often eat that shrimp in seconds. As a result, we have been sticking with mud minnows paired with size 1 Owner circle hooks. Once hung up on structure or on a shell rake, popping corks can be hard to recover. While it’s rare you will get the whole rig back there is a simple trick that will save you time and money. Attach 20-pound test line to the top of the cork and attach 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.

Anglers are regularly catching bull redfish (36” inches plus) currently at the jetties or at nearshore reefs. During this time of year, these same fish come increasingly more into the harbor and inlets as they follow schools of large baitfish. A great set up for these fish will have a stiff rod paired with a 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 2018

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Our fishery is in full swing with lots of bait and an incredibly diverse mixture of fish to target. During August, it will be key to get out early to beat the heat. You’ll not only be more comfortable fishing in the morning but also more productive. The high temperatures in the afternoon can put species like trout down. You may lose some sleep but launching at first light has plenty of rewards.

Popping corks are very effective this time of year. You 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. I run an 18″-24″ fluorocarbon leader from the cork to a size 1 circle hook. When your cork drops under water, reel until you feel the weight of the fish and then lift the rod tip. Mud minnows, shrimp and artificial shrimp all work well as baits.

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

This time of year you’ll want to carry your cast net not only for shrimp but also for baitfish like finger mullet and menhaden. Finger mullet under a popping cork are deadly for trout and can’t be torn to bits by little bait stealing fish. Menhaden fished live on the bottom with big circle hooks are great for reds and sharks. Fresh cut menhaden or mullet put out a scent trail that few fish can ignore.

See you on the water!