“You’re gonna have to horse him out of there. Don’t give him any slack,” said Capt. Addison Rupert of Charleston’s Lowcountry Outdoor Adventures, coaching a client who was hooked up with a bull redfish around some wooden structure in the Wando River. A few minutes later, Rupert hoisted the 42-inch redfish aboard, then asked his client if she was ready to go for the speckled trout and flounder. They were after an “inshore slam.”
Rupert said the Wando is one of many places in the Lowcountry where a fisherman has a chance to catch a slam this month: redfish, speckled trout and flounder.
“Redfish love to hang out along grass lines and in deep holes near wooden structures. Speckled trout like moving water, especially areas with cross currents. Flounder prefer smooth sandy or muddy bottom with structure nearby,” he said. “The Wando has all of these, and it has them all close together.”
A moving tide is preferable for all three species, said Rupert, but he said flounder bite on a slack tide more readily than redfish or trout, so he concentrates on those two species when the tide is moving, then targets flounder at ebb tide.
This month, redfish are all over the Lowcountry, and they are feeding aggressively. Rupert targets them with live or cut bait.
“I know I’ll find some redfish near wooden structures, especially ones that are near deep holes, and the Wando is full of such structures,” said Rupert, who fishes with live mud minnows on jigheads, and with cut blue crabs. With a quarter of a crab threaded onto a 3/0 circle hook at the end of a Carolina rig, Rupert anchors down or ties up within casting distance of docks or old bridge pilings. He fan-casts a spread of several rods — some with blue crab and some with mud minnows — then waits for a bite.
If nothing bites in 15 or 20 minutes, Rupert moves, but sometimes it’s a very subtle move.
“Sometimes I’ll just move a few feet so I can reach another side of whatever structure I’m fishing. Other times, I’ll run downriver to another piece of structure,” he said.
When it’s time for trout, Rupert focuses on moving water. Points on the main river often feature different currents that collide, and Rupert targets them with popping corks and mud minnows. He casts into one current, lets the current carry the cork into the other, then reels the rig back in, making it pop all the way back, often drawing strikes from trout.
When using popping corks, Rupert likes to have an 18-inch leader under the cork; he said many anglers are too shy when it comes to popping the rigs.
“I want it moving the whole time. I let it settle, then pop it across the water. The trout come to check out the noise, see the bait, then hopefully bite it,” he said.
Flounder, Rupert said, are the most challenging of the three inshore slam species.
“They are more particular about where they hang out, and they are finicky biters compared to redfish and trout, especially this month when those two species are pretty aggressive,” he said.
But the Wando has plenty of spots where flounder like to gather, said Rupert, who looks for shallow water with a smooth bottom. A black, muddy bottom is good, but a white sandy one is just as good. He uses a Carolina rig with a 12- to 18-inch leader and a mud minnow for bait. He sticks with 12- to 15-pound test line and suggests casting the minnow out, then slowly working it back toward the boat. He cautions anglers not to set the hook too quickly.
“If they run away with it, then you need to set the hook right away, but if you just feel a slight tick, just be patient and let the fish take it in. Flounder don’t bite like other fish; they take longer to work the bait into their mouths,” Rupert said.
In the Wando, Rupert said it’s easy to find flounder spots. Some are between the docks of riverfront homes. Look for areas that have very gentle slopes from shore to deeper water. At low tide, some of this water is inches deep, even 30 or 40 feet from the shore. It’s flat and sandy, a welcome habitat for flounder. He finds other flounder spots with flat, muddy bottoms where undeveloped land meets the river, mostly along the left bank of the river heading upstream from Remley’s Point.
Rupert said other inshore slam hot spots this month include creeks around the Isle of Palms Marina and the grass-lined banks in the harbor out of Shem Creek’s public boat ramp.
Another Charleston-area guide, Capt. Amy Little of Fine Lines Charters, likes pursuing the inshore slam, often out of the Breach Inlet boat ramp on Isle of Palms. Many of her favorite redfish and trout holes are within sight of the ramp and include some of the old wooden pilings near private docks. She likes to tie up or anchor within casting distance of these structures, then uses corks to suspend her bait above the bottom. She also likes to target grass lines, especially ones with shell banks nearby.
“When I see a grass line near a shell bank, then notice a jut in the grass line that creates a hole or opening in the grass, I will give that area special attention. I expect to catch redfish tight to the grass there, and trout are usually hanging out just off the grass, between the grass and shell bank,” Little said.
When fishing these shell banks, Little almost exclusively uses corks, suspending her bait with 12- to 15-inch leaders.
“You want to keep your hooks off those shell banks to keep from getting hooked on the shells. The trout sometimes bite very lightly too, so the cork helps detect bites,” said Little, who doesn’t impart a lot of action into the popping corks when her bait — usually live mud minnows or live shrimp — is fresh. “Once the bait gets a little sluggish, I’ll start popping it some, but I usually let the bait do its own thing.”
Aside from areas around Breach Inlet, Little said the waters around the Pitt Street bridge are productive for the inshore slam.
“The bull redfish hang out along the pilings of the bridge, and the grass lines all around the bridge are good spots for redfish and trout,” she said. “Water flows under the bridge to the main waterway, and the bottom there is a combination of shell banks and smooth sand. Anchoring in one spot can be productive for all three inshore slam species.”
Castle Pinckney is another productive spot for Little. Letting her cork float along with the tide on the outskirts of the island is a good tactic for trout, but she also catches flounder on the bottom between the island and a nearby cluster of pilings. She said flatfish love hugging the bottom close to the rocks that line the island, looking for an easy meal to ambush.
“They like a flat bottom, but they like it even better if it’s near some sort of change in structure like rock piles or even shell banks,” she said.
Aside from live mud minnows, Little likes using artificial lures for redfish and flounder, especially soft plastics like Vudu Shrimp.
“These baits are really good. They work well and they stand up to abuse. You can catch dozens of redfish and trout on one of these without them tearing up,” said Little.
Like Rupert, Little prefers a moving tide for this type of fishing,and said the incoming is almost always best.
“At low tide, these fish are ready to move into the areas they haven’t had access to in several hours. They know food is waiting for them, and once the tide starts rising, these fish will come in and hit the shell banks, grass lines, and dock pilings to look for food that is only available on the incoming or high tide,” she said.
HOW TO GET THERE/WHEN TO GO — The Charleston area is blessed with dozens of public boat ramps that allow great access to productive waters like the Wando River. The Remley Point ramp is on the Cooper River at the foot of the US 17 bridge in Mount Pleasant; it is close to the mouth of the Wando River. The Paradise Island landing is on CR 1453 off US 17 on the Wando. The Breech Inlet ramp is a pay ramp at Isle of Palms Marina. June is a great month to target an inshore slam because flounder and trout have arrived, and along with redfish, they are very active before water temperatures warm to true summer levels.
TACKLE/TECHNIQUES — Medium-action spinning or baitcasting tackle will get the job done on trout, reds and flounder. Carolina rigs are most-often used when targeting flounder using live bait. For trout, a live bait suspended under a popping cork can do the trick. Reds will also hit live bait on a jighead or under a cork, or crab chunks on a Carolina rig.
GUIDES/FISHING INFO — Capt. Addison Rupert, Lowcountry Outdoor Adventures, 843-557-3476, www.lowcountryoutdooradventures.com; Capt. Amy Little, Fine Lines Charters, 843-345-1310, www.finelinescharters.com; Haddrell’s Point Tackle, Mount Pleasant, 843-881-3644; Charleston Angler, Mount Pleasant, 843-884-2095; Isle of Palms Marina, Isle of Palms, 843-886-0209; Atlantic Game & Tackle, Mount Pleasant, 843-881-6900; Henry’s Sporting Goods, Mount Pleasant, 843-881-0465. See also Guides & Charters in Classifieds.
ACCOMMODATIONS — Hampton Inn & Suites, Mount Pleasant, 843-856-3900; Holiday Inn, Mount Pleasant, 843-884-6000; Seaside Inn, Isle of Palms, 888-999-6516; Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina, Mount Pleasant, 888-856-0028; Shem Creek Inn, Mount Pleasant, 843-881-1000.