Capt. Jordan Pate of Carolina Guide Service reports decent catches of redfish in Georgetown area waters under unseasonably warm February conditions.
"Typically, reds are packed tight into the upper reaches of tidal creeks and in huge schools of several hundred fish this time of year," Pate said, "but the warm water has these fish on the move and in much smaller groups."
Pate finds himself scouring his honey holes all the way from the oyster-encrusted shoals behind Debordieu Beach down south to the mud-covered flats behind Cape Romain Lighthouse.
"We are covering a lot of ground lately, but still reaching double-digit catches by the end of most of our charters," he said.
The redfish are following more of a springtime pattern, with plenty of fish available, just not in an ultra-confined area as they typically would be held up in the bone chilling water's of February. In fact, the National Estuarine Research Reserve System at Oyster Landing in the North Inlet estuary reported water temperatures fluctuating between 55 and 59 degrees this week – more typical of March and April conditions.
Nevertheless, Pate (843-814-7900) is taking advantage of the rise in water temps, finding reds staging in alternative positions in deeper water near their typical winter places.
"The water temperatures ticking up a few degrees have triggered some good bites in deep holes," he says. "Water depths from eight to 12 feet are the best right now to find aggregations of fish."
Pate recommends anglers fishing deeper holes near their usual winter stakeouts and to cover a lot of water.
For most of the year, redfish will take a variety of artificial and natural baits. Under the roller-coaster weather conditions, natural baits are reigning supreme and producing the best results.
"After locating a school holding in deep water, fresh chunked mullet on a Calcutta Ultra Circle Jig soaked on the bottom keeps our rods doubled over," he said.Fortunately, reds holding in deep water are less spooky than fish staging in the shallows.