The redfish bite is finally hot in the Lowcountry. Lagging behind because of the cool weather, menhaden finally showed up in the waters of Fishing Creek and other places around Edisto Island, and, according to Capt. Steve Fralin of Ugly Ducklin’ Charters, the reds acted accordingly.
"They showed up six weeks later than normal this year" said Fralin, "and them showing up has the bite turned on, especially for redfish."
Live menhaden is one bait Fralin has been using, but he keeps live shrimp and mud minnows handy. He threads these onto a 1/0 hook at the end of an 18- to 24-inch, 20-pound test leader. Fralin uses a ball-barrel swivel connected to the 10-pound test he’s got on his reel, and he uses the smallest egg sinker he can get away with.
"Usually in spots around Fishing Creek, a half-ounce sinker will keep the bait in place, but when the current is really hauling, I will go up to an ounce," he said.
When deciding where to fish, Fralin looks for areas that have a lot of varied ingredients.
"I like an area near a deep bend with some type of structure, like a submerged tree, with a shell bank and grass line nearby. Such places are easy to find in Fishing Creek," said Fralin, who anchors with two aluminum stake-out poles, upcurrent of the submerged tree, then casts toward the structure.
A moving tide is the key for Fralin.
"My best fishing comes at the change of tides. Ebb tide is usually slow, but once it starts either coming in or going out, the fish really turn on. It can be a frenzy for about 20 minutes once it turns, so anglers should capitalize on that time. You want to be set up with baits in the water before the tide turns, then just be patient," Fralin said.
Using the stake-out poles as opposed to a traditional anchor has been a saving grace for Fralin when hooking bull redfish. It allows him to quickly untie, leaving the poles in place, so he can pursue the fish or steer it away from swimming into thick structure where it can tangle and break the line.