December has brought inconsistent weather to the Lowcountry, but Scott Hammond of Haddrell's Point Tackle in Charleston said fishing has been strong for a number of species, both inshore and offshore.
"A very strong sheepshead bite on fiddler crabs, clams and live shrimp has been at the top of the list recently, with great reports coming in from the jetties, bridge pilings and almost any other heavy structure that is located near deep water channels," said Hammond, who said most anglers are fishing these baits vertically with just enough weight to keep the bait in the strike zone.
The redfish bite has also been hot, and Hammond (843-573-3474) said they began schooling up in large numbers once the water temperature got into the 50s, but the schools break up during warm spells. Still, they are consistently biting. Live minnows and soft plastics like the scented Z-Man Ultra Shrimp are producing redfish that range from slot-sized to 40-inch bulls.
Trout anglers are also having plenty of luck, especially on the incoming tide along shell rakes and grass edges. Soft plastics are working great, and Hammond said a sure-fire way to locate specks this time of year is by slowly trolling 4-inch paddletail grubs along the banks.
"Once you find a couple of fish trolling, begin casting to that area and slowly work your baits along the bottom. More times than not, if you find two fish, you will likely find many more," Hammond said.
On good weather days, Hammond said offshore anglers are also finding success in 70 to 90 feet of water, catching large black sea bass and grouper while bottom-fishing with live baits and butterfly jigs. Other anglers are trolling along the ledge in 150 to 200 feet of water and are catching wahoo and blackfin tuna on a variety of trolling lures like cedar plugs and ballyhoo with skirts.
Hammond is holding a seminar on winter fishing on the nearshore reefs of South Carolina at the West Ashley Haddrell's store on Dec. 10 at 6 pm.