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Charleston Fishing Report

Charleston Fishing Report – March 2024

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Chilly days are quickly fading away with temperatures rising well into the 60s and sometimes pushing into the 70s. Warmer water temperatures will wake the fish up and get them feeding! Trout should be ready to go in mid-March. It’s time to break out your reels and rods and get ready for a great season!

Having spent the last few months laying low and avoiding dolphins, redfish are now focused on eating instead of simply surviving. Low tide will be the best time to target large schools of redfish that can number in the hundreds. These fish are still skittish, so a quiet and subtle approach is quite important. On many days, it pays to stay in one spot when you find a school and wait for them to come to you instead of scaring them away.

As these reds are nervous, I’ll try to disturb them as little as possible by minimizing my casting. This is a great time to fish with bait on the bottom.  I’ll put a chunk of frozen mullet or blue crab on a size 3/0 circle hook and just let it rest until the redfish swim over it. Make sure the barb of your hook is fully in bait and the point is cleanly exposed. Place your rod in the rod holder and get ready for it to whip over once the circle hook sets itself!

As trout begin to feed, popping corks cast along grass banks and over oyster beds will be a good bet with mud minnows attached. I usually pair a 18”-24” fluorocarbon leader with a size 1 circle hook. While there is no shortage of options, I use oval shaped corks that are heavier and can cast further. When using a popping cork, do your best to keep slack out of your line and when that cork drops under just reel without lifting the rod tip. You’ll find that the circle hook rarely misses as long as your line is tight.

See you on the water!

Charleston Fishing Report – November 2023

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Fishing this Fall has been great so far and we can expect more of the same in November!  Colder mornings remind trout and redfish that they better eat soon or it will be a long few months without any food. Artificial lures have become very productive as natural bait leaves our waters. Make the most of sunny days and go catch some fish!

As water temperatures decline, redfish have begun their regular Winter habit of forming large schools. Schools of fifty redfish or more will become common and they can swell to be as large as 100-150. Redfish are more skittish this time of year and lures can spook them on the flats. As opposed to casting directly at the schools, we will cast out as many as three lines with chunks of frozen mullet on 3/0 circle hooks. Eventually the redfish will find the bait and bend your rods over with some astonishing hits!

For trout, artificial lures are working just fine. Trout hang together and when you catch one there will likely be others in the area. Lures in hues of gray and blue are performing the best when paired with a 1/4oz. jighead. Remember to move your lure slower than usual as the fish don’t move as quickly with the cooler water temperatures. Try to bounce the jighead off the bottom and wait until you feel the pull of a striking fish.

Popping corks are still great options for both trout and redfish. I’ll attach a two to three foot leader to the cork and a size 1 circle hook on the other end with a split shot a foot above the hook. Cast along grass banks, over oyster beds, and at creek mouths and watch for that cork to drop! It can be difficult, but when that cork disappears, reel as fast as you can and let the circle hook set itself. A big hook set can rip your bait right out of the fish’s mouth!

See you on the water!

Charleston Fishing Report – October 2023

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

After a couple of tropical storms, the weather has settled down and water clarity is improving. Redfish have begun to form larger schools and sight fishing should be great. We are casting jerk shad artificial lures about 4″-5″ in length and in hues of silver and blue. I pair these lures with size #3/0 flutter hooks that provide great action in the water.

Artificial lures have begun to really produce for trout. I’ll fish a 1/4oz. jighead and tie a loop knot to give the lure even more action. As you search for pockets of fish, vary your rate of retrieve. Just like the jerk shad, we’ve been staying with artificials whose color mimics the baitfish in the water. Try putting a piece of shrimp on the hook to make your lure even more attractive,. You can try pieces of live or frozen shrimp and it will add a scent trail on your lure that is hard to resist.

Even with artificials becoming more productive, keep using those popping corks. Live shrimp, mud minnows and artificial shrimp have been working fine when suspended about 18″-24″ below the cork. Trout and redfish alike will eat these baits as they pass by suspended in the water column. Corks have been working best cast along grassy banks at mid and high tide.

See you on the water!

Charleston Fishing Report – September 2023

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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 up because food will begin to disappear. Time remains to catch summer seasonal species like Spanish mackerel, ladyfish and shark. Although, 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 football and hunting which will leave you plenty of space on the water!

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

When focusing on trout, popping corks remain a great option. While live shrimp are a good choice, small fish will often demolish that shrimp in seconds. To counter this, we have been sticking with mud minnows paired with size 1 Owner circle hooks. When hung up on shell rake or structure, popping corks can be hard to recover. While it’s rare you will get all the pieces back, there is a simple trick that will save you money and time. 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 tug hard, the line will snap at the hook and you will get your cork back.

Anglers are consistently catching bull redfish (36” inches plus) currently at the jetties or at nearshore reefs. Increasingly, these same fish come 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 menhaden, mullet or smaller fish are very effective. Look for spots where there are marked changes in depth and wait for the huge strikes!

See you on the water!

Charleston Fishing Report – August 2023

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Fishing has been very active so far this summer and anglers can expect it to stay the same in August. It will be important to get out early or stay out late to beat the heat. It will not only be more comfortable to fish during these times but also high temperatures in the afternoons can put the fish down.

It’s hard to find a more effective setup than the popping cork. You can catch so many different types of fish: redfish, trout, flounder, ladyfish, shark, etc. Try using a weighted popping cork to increase the distance of your cast. I attach an 18″-24″ fluorocarbon leader from the cork to a size 1 circle hook.  Shrimp, mud minnows, and artificial shrimp all work well as baits.

When you are starting early, topwater is a fantastic option for trout. Do your best to get to your spot just as it is becoming daylight. Fish strike topwater lures based on the commotion they make on the surface as they can’t discern that the lure isn’t a real struggling baitfish. These lures will also catch redfish as well. Heddon’s Super Spook Jr. lures in silver mullet or chartreuse and black are the way to go.

Of all the species, the shark bite may be the most consistent of all during August. They certainly don’t seem to mind the heat. Menhaden are great bait so bring your cast net along. Make sure you use enough weight to keep your bait stuck to the bottom. In the harbor and in the inlets, you may need to go as heavy as four to six ounces when the current rips.

See you on the water!

Charleston Fishing Report – November 2022

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Fishing this past month was very productive and we can expect November to be just as good!  Chilly water temperatures remind trout and redfish that they better eat now or it will be a long few months ahead without any food. As natural bait leaves our waters, artificial lures have become very effective. Take advantage of sunny days and go catch some fish!

Redfish have begun their seasonal phenomenon of forming large schools. Groups of fifty redfish will become common and they can grow as large as 100-150 during the winter. These fish are more wary and tossing artificial lures into the pod can spook them. Instead of casting at the schools, we will throw out as many as three lines with chunks of frozen mullet on #3/0 circle hooks and let them sit on the outside of the school. Eventually the redfish will find your bait and make those rods whip over!

For trout, artificial lures are working great. Trout hang together and when you catch one there will likely be many more. Lures in hues of gray and blue are performing the best when paired with a 1/4oz. jighead. Remember to move your lure slower than usual as the fish slow down with the cooler water temperature. Try to bounce the jighead off the bottom and wait until you feel the resistance of a striking fish.

Popping corks are still great options for both trout and redfish. Live shrimp can be used again with the bait stealers gone. I’ll attach a two to three foot leader from the cork to a size 1 circle hook while adding a split shot a foot above the hook. Cast over oyster beds, along grass banks, and at creek mouths and watch for that cork to disappear! It can be a hard habit to break, but when that cork drops, reel as fast as you can and let the circle hook naturally set itself. A big hook set can sometimes pull your bait right out of the fish’s mouth.

See you on the water!

Charleston Fishing Report – September 2022

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

We often suggest popping corks in our reports. Why? Because they are easy to fish with and work great! Redfish, flounder and trout will all eat bait 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. 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.

We will bid farewell to the summer seasonal species who should be gone by the end of the month. Meanwhile, sharks are still providing plenty of action for the next few weeks. It is crucial to use enough weight to keep your bait pinned to the bottom. Baits that are swinging around will usually slide until they snag. Instead of using one large 3 or 4oz. weight, I’ll use 1 or 2oz. weights attached to a slinker slide and add weight as needed.

The odds of catching bull redfish these days as you fish in the big water are rapidly rising. With the mullet run in full swing, these beasts follow the bait inshore. Cracked blue crab, live menhaden and fresh cut mullet make great baits. You’ll find these fish on drop offs and ledges in the harbor and inlets. With redfish measuring into the upper 30” class it is well worth your time to soak some bait.

See you on the water!

Charleston Fishing Report – August 2022

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As always, August brings warmer temperatures but also some great fishing. Fishermen will want to focus on fishing early or late in the day for the best action. Lots of different styles of fishing are productive this month and if you choose the right ones you can beat the heat and stay cool.

If choose to start early, your go-to option should be topwater. Make an effort to get to your spot just as it is becoming light. Fish will aggressively strike topwater lures based on the disturbance they make on the surface and they can’t tell that the lure isn’t a real struggling baitfish. These lures work well for both redfish and trout. Heddon’s Super Spook Jr. lures in chartreuse and black or red and white are the ticket.

Popping corks can be used all day and during every part of the tide. Anglers enjoy using them because you can catch so many different types of fish: trout, redfish, 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 dives under water, reel until you feel the fish is on and then lift your rod tip. Shrimp, mud minnows and artificial shrimp all work well as bait.

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

See you on the water!

Charleston Fishing Report – July 2022

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

Don’t leave the dock without your cast net. Finger mullet and menhaden are readily available and choice baits for redfish. Target redfish while fishing these baits around structures like rock walls and docks. 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 in place so it doesn’t snag.

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

Spanish mackerel are plentiful and are most prolific at first light. If you find schools of fish busting bait on the surface, toss reflective 1/2oz. casting jigs and reel them quickly through the school. Move your boat slowly around the school; running over a pod of fish will put them down. If you know fish are present but not on the surface, try trolling Clark Spoons at different speeds and different depths.

Sharks bite well irrespective of the temperature and our waters are loaded with them. Even in the afternoon heat, they will be on the move 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 absent its claws 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 – June 2022

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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.

Redfish are very 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 the baitfish flooding our waters. Flutter hooks have a weight on their shank that let you cast a far distance and also put motion on the lure. I use them in size 3/0 with a 1/8oz. weight.  Make sure to cast to the edges of the schools to avoid spooking the fish.

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.

Ladyfish are my favorite summer seasonal species. They strike hard, run fast and make one acrobatic leap after another. Sometimes referred to as the poor man’s tarpon these fish are wildly entertaining. I will target these fish with live shrimp or mud minnows under a popping cork. I prefer the D.O.A. oval corks. They come in a two pack that costs the same as most single corks and they fish great. Pair them with a size 1 Owner circle hook and get ready for a good time.

All species of shark have appeared. Sharpnose and blacktip sharks have been present for over a month and bonnetheads are becoming more present. Menhaden 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.

See you on the water!