With water temperatures in the Hilton Head area on the upswing, Capt. Rick Percy of Reel Chance Charters has been on some good fish, and he recently recorded his first inshore slam of the year.
While Percy is finding some small groups and single redfish scattered about, he said some of them are still in large schools. Even after targeting schooling fish all winter, Percy said he recently found at least one new school, and he has seen another one that he lost track of for months. So he’s happy to have so many options, as each poses their own challenges.
For schooling fish, anglers should keep their distance, either by anchoring down and casting to them, or by shadowing them with a trolling motor or by poling, being careful not to spook them. Casting ahead of the school, rather than in the middle of it, will usually help keep the schools from breaking apart.
Percy said anglers have had to contend with a lot of wind lately, but they can always find a creek or inlet that offers enough protection to safely pursue some fish. The wind can also aid anglers by pushing baitfish into a concentrated area. South winds are the worst, according to Percy (803-535-6166), who said those are days to avoid because they limit fishing more than any other wind. Current breaks near islands, sandbars and creek mouths are giving up some good fish, and shellbanks are also good bets – especially ones with current breaks nearby.
Percy's recent redfish catches have run the gamut from undersized fish, legal keepers and over-the-slot bulls. He has also been catching 16- to 17-inch speckled trout, and he said some flounder are starting to bite; a nice, 17-inch keeper finished out his recent inshore slam.
While artificials have been working for some anglers, Percy said a surefire way to catch fish has been to fish minnows under popping corks. Of his inshore slam day, which included numerous redfish as well as a couple of specks and the flounder, Percy said "All these fish were caught on a mud minnow under a Midcoast popping cork on higher water."
Percy's gear has mostly consisted of spinning combos with 2500 series reels, 7-foot medium-action rods, and 15- to 20-pound line. As the water continues to warm up, Percy said anglers can expect the fishing to get even better.