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Charleston Fishing Reports

Charleston Fishing Report – April 2024

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Spring is here! With days full of sun and temperatures holding in the 70’s, our fishery is quickly evolving with signs of new life. Trout and flounder have entered the mix and anglers now have several species to target instead of simply redfish. Our waters are filing with bait and the fish are ready to go!

When targeting redfish, a great tactic is to throw chunks of fresh blue crab. Blue crab is redfish candy and bait that is rarely turned down. 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 place the hook through the bottom flipper hole. This rig will work under docks, on the flats and anywhere redfish are holding. Put the rod in the rod holder and don’t touch it until the reel is zinging!

The trout bite should begin in earnest this April. With water temperatures rapidly rising, the trout will become aggressive feeders before too long. The preferred rig of live bait under a popping cork is a go to option. 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 which are a great choice as well.

Often considered our best tasting fish, flounder are frequently targeted. We’ve been catching them when fishing with mud minnows on the bottom or mud minnows under popping corks. You’ll need to focus on structures when searching for flounder. Old pilings and docks are great places to prospect. Remember that flounder will sit on the bottom in hopes of ambushing their prey, so you’ll need to keep that bait down in the water column.

See you on the water!

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

By Fishing, Fishing Report

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!