October is the last month of the year when fishermen can chase redfish in ankle-deep water in South Carolina's estuaries, and the waters around Hobcaw Barony and Georgetown's Winyah Bay are ideal. With water temperatures steadily falling, the crabs will soon go dormant burying themselves in the sand well away from their arch nemesis, the redfish and South Carolina's favorite game fish.

Redfish roam the shallows most of the year looking to eat shrimp and small fish, but the true prime rib of the inshore lair is the tasty crab. Every month, there are a few flood tides that are higher than normal, giving redfish a chance to get an edge on these tasty crustaceans. As waters rise, crabs will retreat to dry land, but the unusually high water eliminates dry land – and rings the dinner bell for redfish.

"October is usually the last month to chase reds on the flats," says Captain Steve Thomas of Hobcaw Fly Fishing Adventures, "but the redfish get ferocious this month chasing crabs and baitfish."

Thomas (843-997-6981) guides fly anglers on foot in Hobcaw Barony, the 17,500-acre research reserve right in the heart of Georgetown County's Winyah Bay. And the rest of Winyah Bay has extensive areas that only flood during these extremely high tides, offering prime places to chase redfish in skinny water.

 

Several prime tide sequences remain in October. Thomas urges anglers to take advantage of the last few remaining sessions when tides are unusually high. Tide charts will reveal the tidal sequences pushing excess water into the marsh.

 

"We need at least a 5.5 tide to get the water up on the flats, but anything closer to 6.0 or over are the best," said Thomas, pointing to a few good tides in early October and a series of good high tides from Oct. 12-23.

 

Thomas uses small crab-imitation patterns mostly, but any shrimp and small baitfish imitations will produce quick strikes if presented effectively. Slip out to the nearest tidal flat via boat or on foot, and look for the redfish pushing water or tailing in the shallowest water adjacent to dry land. Be stealthy and expect your opponent to be aggressive. Get out there quick; the last few weeks of this unique angling tactic will soon be a memory.