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Charleston Fishing Report

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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Charleston-Fishing-Report-April-2019

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!

Charleston Fishing Report – July 2018

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July is one of the most productive months of the year for fishing. The combination of traditional targets like redfish and trout and summer seasonal species like shark, ladyfish and Spanish mackerel make for a very active fishery. Anglers can expect lots of different opportunities during all tides!

Don’t leave the dock without your cast net. Menhaden and finger mullet are readily available and choice baits for redfish. Target redfish while fishing these baits around structures like docks and rock walls. You can hook the bait on a size 3/0 circle hook going up through the lower lip and out through the top. Place the bait on the bottom with a Carolina rig using enough weight to hold your bait stationary so it doesn’t snag.

As for trout, popping corks paired with live bait is the way to go. We have been using mud minnows as pervasive little fish will steal live shrimp right off your hook. Choose a popping cork that you can easily throw and see. Oval corks weigh more and cast farther. Orange can be easier to see than green or yellow when there is chop on the water. Throw your cork in an area with current and you will be catching loads of trout.

All species of shark have appeared. Sharpnose and blacktip sharks have been present for over a month and bonnetheads are becoming more present. The same menhaden mentioned above make for great shark bait. We still use circle hooks but go up to size 7/0. Try fishing one line with a live menhaden and a second with a chunk of menhaden. You’ll find out quickly which one is preferred!

This is the strongest season in recent memory for Spanish mackerel. We have been finding them in heavy numbers in places where they have rarely been seen. These fish are great fun for all anglers and easy to catch. Cast reflective jigs through schools of busting fish and reel as fast as possible. Expect dynamic action as these fish knife through the water chasing your lure!

See you on the water!

Charleston Fishing Report – May 2018

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As we enter May, few can remember a Spring with so many windy days combined with lots of rain. Our fishery is a few weeks behind but is now poised to come alive! Water temperatures have been jumping higher and summer seasonal species have begun to appear. Put a line in the water and you won’t be disappointed!

As redfish begin to feed in earnest, popping corks cast along grass banks and over oyster beds will be a good bet paired with mud minnows and live shrimp. From the popping cork, I attach a 18”-24” fluorocarbon leader to a size 1 circle hook. Should smaller fish make short work of your live bait, try using D.O.A.’s 2.75” shrimp in their Glow colors.

Trout have been slowly coming around after a challenging and chilly few months. Artificials have been producing the most consistent trout action. When worked slowly in the water column, smaller plastic artificials that mimic baitfish have been getting crushed. Z-Man’s Finesse TRD lures are a go-to choice in their Mud Minnow color. Tie these lures with a loop knot to give the lure extra action in the water.

Spanish mackerel are already slashing around the harbor and can be best found at first light. When you find schools of fish knifing across the surface, throw reflective casting jigs (1/2oz. or smaller) and reel them as fast as you can through the school. Spanish are toothy critters so no matter how fast the action remember to pause and check your leader frequently for cuts and nicks.

With warmer waters, sharks have begun to arrive. Of all the different species of shark we see, bonnetheads are not only among the most common but also the most accessible. These sharks can be caught in a foot of water or in the middle of the harbor. Live menhaden, chunks of blue crab or cut mullet can all be used as baits. These great fighters are good fun for young and old anglers alike.

See you on the water!

 For a decade, Capt. Geoff Bennett has operated Charleston Charter Fishing providing light tackle charters. Clients choose from a full menu of 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.

 

Charleston Fishing Report – April 2018

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At the beginning of March, Charleston had begun to shed the effects of a chilly Winter. The bite improved noticeably and then two weeks of storms and windy weather slowed things down again. Redfish are available and trout can be found too if you work the right lures. Temperatures will surely rebound in April and with it so will the fishing!

Somewhat surprisingly given the water temperatures, decent size mullet have already made their way into our waters. You can see birds diving aggressively on these fish especially at low tide.  Anglers would be well served to use artificial plastic lures that mimic these baitfish. A great option is the Z-Man 5” Jerk Shadz in their Houndini color. I will rig this lure with a Gamakatsu 3/0 flutter hook in 1/8oz. to 1/4oz. weights. This lure fishes weedless, can be thrown a mile and makes very little noise when it lands.  Work one of these around a school of redfish and you will find success!

With fish still moving slowly, the most effective tactic we have found is tossing Trout Eye jigheads rigged with mud minnows around structure especially docks. Take the hook through the minnow’s bottom lip and out through the top lip. We are using a 1/4oz. jighead to help get the bait down close to the bottom. Methodically work this rig back to the boat by popping the bait up twice and letting it fall. When you feel any resistance set the hook hard!

Docks have been a go-to option on these windy days and per usual are quite productive in early Spring relative to other options. Besides working the Trout Eye jigheads described above, we often fish cut bait on the bottom around the docks. Prepare a heavier rod with pinch on weights and an Owner 3/0 circle hook. Use just enough weight to keep the bait stationary. While cut mullet and blue crab are always popular, frozen shrimp has been working best. Just put the rod in a holder and let the circle hook do all the work for you!

See you on the water!