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Charleston Fishing Report | Charleston Charter Fishing - Part 4

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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Charleston-Fishing-Report

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

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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

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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.

 

Charleston Fishing Report – June 2016

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Charleston Fishing Report

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.

With water temperatures so warm, our trout bite continues to improve. The preferred choice of live bait under a popping cork is hard to beat. Live shrimp are 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.

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.

My favorite summer fish is the ladyfish. These dynamic fish will smack shrimp under a popping cork and make your drag zing. Their acrobatic jumps and hard runs make these fish so entertaining. Look for them in some of the same spots that you find trout.

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.

Charleston Fishing Report – May 2016

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James Island Fishing

Warm weather is here 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 brimming 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 produced 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!

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.

Flyfishermen will begin to target big high tides or “tailing tides” when the redfish are way up in the grass. 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!

 

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.

Charleston Fishing Report – April 2016

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Charleston Fishing Report

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 becoming predators 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.

Having woken from their winter slumber, the trout are active again. Fishermen should focus on grassy banks and oyster beds when targeting these fish. It’s time to break out the popping corks again. Try fishing a 3” D.O.A. plastic shrimp lure suspended two feet underneath a popping cork. The D.O.A. shrimp come in several weights but I prefer their 1/4oz. model.  The Glow/Gold color is a great choice.

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!

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.

Charleston Fishing Report – March 2016

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Charleston Fishing Report

Warmer weather is arriving in the Lowcountry and we’ve already seen a few days in the 70s. As the water temperature rises, redfish and trout will become more active. For all of you anxious to get out on the water, the time has come!

Albeit breaking up slowly, redfish will still be in huge wintertime schools where you can easily find 50-100 fish in a tightly knit pod. To be successful, anglers will often have to be patient and fish bait on the bottom. Casting anything on these schools can send them fleeing! I’ll alternate between cut mullet, mud minnows and cracked blue crab on a size #3/0 circle hook. Set the drag lightly, place your rod in a holder and let the fish set themselves on your circle hook.

It depends on the year as to when trout reappear. You can assume sometime in March is a safe bet. As the trout bite heats up, 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 tight to set the hook. You’ll find that the circle hook will do most of the work for you.

This a great time of year for fly fishing. Sight fishing abounds and stalking a school of a hundred plus fish is so exciting you almost fall off the bow with anticipation. Smaller flies in darker colors are working best and a black wiggler fly is a fine example. Remember when the fish hits, resist the temptation to lift your rod tip and strip strike instead.

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.