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Charleston Fishing Reports

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!

April Fishing Report

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Redfish are no longer focused simply on preservation but are now feeding again. Anglers should consider using artificial plastic lures that mimic bait fish. One good choice would be “jerk shad” lures that are available in a wide variety of colors and have become very popular. I’ve been finding that silver hues have been working best although I’ll occasionally throw a darker color when water clarity is poor.

As trout become more active, popping corks cast over oyster beds and along grass banks are a great bet paired with mud minnows and live shrimp. I usually use a 18”-24” leader and a size 1 circle hook. When working a 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 all of the work for you.

Regularly considered our tastiest fish, flounder are a frequent target. We’ve been catching them consistently when fishing with mud minnows on the bottom or mud minnows under popping corks. You’ll want to focus on structures when targeting flounder. Old pilings and docks are good places to explore. Remember that flounder will hang tight to 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!

March Fishing Report

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

Albeit starting to break up, redfish will still be in huge wintertime schools where you can easily find 50-100 fish in closely knit pods. 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 cracked blue crab, mud minnows and cut mullet on a size #3/0 circle hook. Set the drag lightly, leave your rod in the holder and let the fish set themselves.

It depends on the year as to when trout reappear. Usually by mid-March, the trout bite has begun. Popping corks cast over oyster beds and along grass banks will be a good bet paired when with mud minnows. I usually use a 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. Again, the circle hook will do most of the work for you.

See you on the water!

November Fishing Report

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Fishing has been quite good this Fall and anglers can expect it to improve in November. Chilly mornings combined with lower water temperatures remind redfish and trout that it is time to eat before all the food disappears with the onset of Winter. Take some time to go fishing with the family around the Thanksgiving holiday and make the best of what our fishery offers.

As usual, redfish have begun to congregate in large schools that will only grow bigger. Reds huddle 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 thrilling and even make your knees tremble on the bow. Smaller artificial lures rigged on 1/8oz. jigheads have proven to be quite effective.

You won’t have to change your lure when you decide to target trout. The same rig of an artificial lure on a jighead produces fine here as well. If you catch a 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 gray and blue are performing the best.

For the angler on the fly rod, the focus switches from tailing tides to the big schools of redfish on the flats at low tide. Darker flies work well but don’t be afraid to throw some copper flies with lots of flash. Most importantly, make sure to take your time and approach these fish quietly as even a small noise will send these spooky fish scrambling away.

See you on the water!   

 

October Fishing Report

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Fall has arrived with cooler weather and shorter days. But don’t put your boat away 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 some time to get out on the water, you won’t regret it.

Redfish have been hungrily eating cut and live bait fished on the bottom. Menhaden and mullet 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 under docks as well as on the flats. Just put the rod in the holder and wait for the reel to start humming as the fish hook themselves.

Artificial lures have really begun to produce for trout and the traditional paddle tail design has been awesome. 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 prospect for pockets of fish. To make your lure even more compelling, 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 is hard to ignore.

Even as artificial lures become more effective, keep tossing those popping corks. Mud minnows, live shrimp and artificial shrimp have all been working well when suspended about 18″-24″ below the cork. Redfish and trout alike will eat these baits as they pass by riding along in the water column. Corks have been working best fished along grassy banks at mid and high tide.

See you on the water!

 

July Fishing Report

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Could there be a better time of year to fish? There are so many species available to target and so many different ways to fish for them!  Anglers will always find something exciting to do on the water. As the days become progressively warmer, fishermen will want to fish early before the heat of the day arrives.

While the large schools of redfish have now broken up, you can still find pods of dozens of fish roaming the flats and grass banks. In order to get their attention, we have been using baits that leave a hearty scent trail in the water. Cut menhaden or cut mullet are all effective choices.  Try using size 3/0 circle hooks and just let the fish hook itself.

This season we have been catching many more “keeper” trout (over 14”) than in recent years. While popping corks are a great option, we’ve also been fishing mud minnows on jigheads. These jigheads allow us to get our bait in front of fish holding in deeper pockets. We use 1/8oz. jigheads and make sure to vary the rate of our retrieve. Bumping your bait along the bottom can be deadly.

As always, sharks are pervasive in our waters during the summertime. Cracked blue crab and menhaden are great for bait but chunks of fresh cut bluefish and ladyfish work very well too. Look to fish drop-offs where there is a sharp change in water depth. As a pleasant surprise, you also stand the chance to find a large bull redfish at the end of your line!

There will be a number of significant high tides in the evening this month. As redfish access areas usually unavailable on normal tides, fishermen can see the backs and tails of redfish as they put their noses in the mud to forage for crabs. These tides are called “tailing tides” and provide awesome sight casting opportunities. Watching a redfish explode in skinny water when you set the hook is truly a sight to behold.

See you on the water!

June Fishing Report

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Great fishing conditions are finally consistently here! 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. It’s little wonder our waters are now full of fishermen waiting for “the strike”.

Fishing for redfish remains very productive. Blue crab fished on the bottom is deadly. Remove the shell and legs of a blue crab and cut the body in half. Put a size 3/0 circle hook through the hole where the flipper fin used to be and make sure the hook point is exposed. No need to hold the rod, instead put it in a rod holder. Once that rod starts to bend, don’t touch it until the drag starts screaming!

We’ve found the most consistent trout action to be on artificials instead of the traditional popping corks. Small plastic artificials that mimic small baitfish have been getting crushed. The Z-man 3 ¾” streakz in smoky shad is an excellent choice. Paired with an 1/8oz. jighead, these lures worked best bumped slowly along the bottom. Trout will usually hit when you lift them up in a jigging motion.

The flounder bite has been better than seasons in recent memory. We’ve been picking up lots of flounder with mud minnows under a popping cork. Of course, the more traditional method of fishing finger mullet along the bottom around structures is still a go-to technique. Move the bait slowly and when you think you have a bite wait a few seconds (if you can) before setting the hook.

My favorite summer time fish is the ladyfish. Ladyfish are becoming increasingly present with the warmer water. These lively fish will smack bait under a popping cork and make your drag zing. Their acrobatic jumps and hard runs make these fish so entertaining. You’ll often catch them in the same spots you target trout.

See you on the water!

May Fishing Report

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Our fishery is really cooking now! The arrival of seasonal species like ladyfish, bluefish and shark now compliment our redfish and trout. Look around you on the water and you’ll also find plenty of baitfish including mullet and menhaden. You have more reasons now than ever to get fishing!

Recently, we’ve been making the most of live bait when fishing for redfish. Menhaden is a favorite choice whether fished live or as cut bait. Fishing chunks of menhaden under docks has produced some very large redfish. I’ll use a carolina rig with just enough weight to keep the bait pinned to the ground so it doesn’t get snagged. I use size 3/0 circle hooks and let the redfish hook themselves.

It’s that 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. Their silver mullet color works well too. Try a variety of retrieval speeds as you work these lures. When that trout strikes, try to resist the temptation to lift the rod tip and reel the fish tight instead. It’s hard to beat those explosive strikes!

As expected, sharks have returned to our waters with the warmer water temperatures. Look along the shoreline and you’ll see the fins of bonnethead sharks slicing through the water as they seek out prey. Live shrimp and chunks of blue crab both work well on these predators. Fishing for sharks can be a great way to get younger anglers involved as sharks are usually hungry and put up great fights.

Flyfishermen will begin to focus on big high tides or “tailing tides” when the redfish are way up in the grass. This produces very exciting fishing as 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!