Anglers are having a field day with speckled trout and redfish in Hilton Head's inshore waters, according to Capt. Kent Bird of Megabite Fishing Charters, who said said the trout fishing in the past year has been the best he has ever seen. 

"The trout kills (several years ago) concerned me, because trout fishing is a huge part of my business, but not only are the trout here in numbers, they are also big," said Bird. "I have released more specks over five pounds in the past year than I ever have, including several in the 8- to 9-pound range."

Bird prefers fishing the incoming tide, and uses DOA shrimp, Gulp! baits and Berkley Power Tubes about two to three feet under a rattling cork, keeping the bait just above oyster beds.

"Trout are attracted to movement, water movement, and noise," said Bird (843-298-0448). "In current or wind, I tell clients to work those clacking floats more aggressively, creating noise and movement. In calm water, though, I like to work them far less and make less noise. Basically, when movement and noise are already present, make more movement and noise, but when there is little or no movement or noise, make less movement and noise."

Bird said mud minnows, live shrimp, and finger mullet worked slowly on the bottom are also producing numbers of quality trout, and this technique is working for redfish as well.

"The slot-sized redfish – most in the 17-inch range – are biting aggressively in the creeks and inlets, and we are catching bull-sized reds just off the beaches," said Bird, who attributes the strong redfish population to the stocking of redfish fingerlings by the SCDNR’s Waddell Mariculture Center in Bluffton. "The Beaufort/Hilton Head area has the best redfishing in the state, and a big reason for that is because of the folks at Waddell Mariculture Center."

Bird expects the trout bite to stay hot through early to mid-February, and he expects the redfish action to continue for even longer.

A big mistake a lot of trout anglers make is leaving too much slack in their line, Bird said.

"No matter what type of water you're in, you need to keep the line tight, because once you get a bite, you need to set the hook quickly and you can't do that with slack in the line," Bird said