Tuck Scott, who guides out of Beaufort's Bay Street Outfitters, said things have been changing in the waters around Beaufort and Hilton Head over the past week.

First, fishermen have spotted a few cobia, and second, redfish have begun tailing in the grass, marking one of Scott's favorite times to fly fish.

 

"You will find redfish in the grass this time of year, but don't expect to see large number of tail," he said. "Expect to see fish that are laid up, which means they are likely to see you before you see them."

 

But, Scott said, you will certainly see some tails. And when sighting those "laid up" fish, Scott suggests casting to them immediately.  

For anglers wishing to fly fish, Scott (843-271-5406) suggests a 9-foot, 8-weight fly rod, a 16-pound test tippet, a 9-foot leader and Redfish WF floating fly line. He said the "must-have" pattern is a No. Grand Slam Crab in orange and brown. Other good patterns include No. 3 Dupree Spoonfly in gold or gold/pink, the cocoa Bay Street Bunny in No. 1/0, tan Redfish Toads in No. 2, and root beer Raz Mataz, also in No. 2.

 

Conventional anglers are having success on light spinning tackle using live finger mullet and mud minnows, and crabs and shrimp are beginning to produce as well.

 

The goal is pretty simple, according to Scott: find tailing or laid-up fish in the grass at high tide and make good presentations. Quick, accurate casting is the key to success, and anglers with long-distance casting ability definitely have an edge on everyone else, and on the fish, who have no trouble spotting and escaping from anglers who get too close.

 

At low tide, redfish are gathering in large schools like they've done all winter, and these schools are sticking close to spartina grass. For those anglers looking to hook into an early-season cobia, Scott suggests looking for them cruising on top in water with easy access to the open ocean, such as St. Helena Sound.