Capt. Charlie Beadon of Beaufort Sport Fishing said January is a time when people are continually asking him whether he catches any fish during the winter.

"I tell them absolutely," Beadon said, "and most are surprised to hear that some of the best saltwater fishing is now taking place."

That is especially true of the Broad River in the Bluffton area, where Beadon and his parties have been catching plenty of redfish that are ganged up in big schools and sticking to the shallow flats.

"These schools are pretty easy to find, especially if you have bright sunlight and clean water, but they will spook easily too," said Beadon (843-592-0897).

When spotting a school of reds, it's important to get a quick cast to the fish, but you want to put your lure in the right place too.

"You want to pay attention to which direction they're heading and get a cast out there in front of them," Beadon said.

The hot bait lately has been a 3-inch Gulp! shrimp on a quarter-ounce leadhead jig, fished slowly.

Locating these schools is the key, and Beadon said four things make a shoreline a good one for finding schools.

"The shoreline needs flats, spartina grass, (drain) creeks and oyster beds. Find those things together, and that's a good place to start looking," he said.

And when you find them, Beadon said do your best not to spook them. But if you do spook them, don't lose heart. The school may break into two or three smaller groups and ease out of sight, but you can usually find them again by poling up and down the shoreline, keeping a sharp lookout.

"Rarely, they'll move deep enough that we can't spot them, but they are vulnerable to porpoises then, so they won't stay there long. They want to stay as shallow as possible, so chances are good they'll be back in sight soon. And if they aren't, crank the motor and make a short run to the next likely looking shoreline," Beadon said.

Beadon tries to keep the sun and wind at his back, as this helps him spot fish at a greatest distance, but that's obviously not always possible.

"You have to be flexible because the conditions aren't always in your favor, but you can still find the schools when everything isn't ideal," he said.

Fishing this way is best on the falling tide through the rising tide. Once the tide is high, the redfish will disperse into the spartina grass and the tiny creek mouths where casting to them is difficult.