Redfish, black drum, and speckled trout are all biting in the Ashley River, and Brian Beatson of Summerville said they are biting best on the incoming tide.
Beatson has been catching two of those three species consistently by finding areas with the combination of oyster shells, grass, incoming water and baitfish. Finding all four in one places is as good as a money-back guarantee that redfish and trout will bite, and finding solid structure like old wooden pilings and downed trees is a good indicator that black drum are in the area.
"I hear a lot of people calling the Ashley the 'Trashley,' but this river is full of redfish, trout and black drum," said Beatson. "I primarily fish with natural bait that I catch with a cast net or minnow trap, but I have also been catching fish on Z-Man Paddlerz, and topwater lures."
Beatson usually fishes out of Pierpoint Landing, a rough, one-lane boat landing on Bull's Creek, a tributary of the Ashley. He starts fishing at the junction of the creek and the river.
“I prefer to fish the incoming tide right here, especially when it occurs close to first light. Trout are usually active here and the bite seems best early in the day on incoming tide," he said. "This is when I will spend a lot of time with topwater plugs. I've had to cull through a number of 12- and 13-inch fish, but I catch my share of 15- to 20-inchers on Zara Spooks."
When the incoming tide is later in the day, Beatson sticks to mud minnows and cut shrimp for trout in this area, as well as other feeder creeks.
Beatson’s best success with redfish has been fishing small pieces of cut shrimp on the bottom along the edge of grasslines.
Redfish are also biting, especially along grasslines. Beatson's best luck has been with small pieces of cut shrimp fished on the bottom.
"I catch more crabs and skates on whole live shrimp, but the small pieces are doing the trick on redfish. Most have been in the slot, with a few oversized and undersized fish mixed in," he said.
Beatson also uses small shrimp pieces for black drum. Old wooden structures are his favorite spots for these fish.
"Old wooden walls and other structures are present around the old plantations on the Ashley, and I fish cut shrimp vertically around these structures, much like people use fiddlers for sheepshead," he said.
Beatson said some days he has a little luck with all three species, but on other days, one or more aren't cooperating. "You have to be flexible and willing to change tactics. Don't sit in a spot for too long trying for a certain fish, because there are enough good fishing spots on this river. If one species isn't biting, try for another.