Scott Hammond, who manages Haddrell’s Point Tackle Shop in Charleston, said he can tell summer vacation is fast approaching by the questions he fields daily as soon as schools let out and families start heading for the beaches. While mom and the kids are lounging on the beach, dads head to the tackle shop wanting to know how they can slide some fishing into their time off.
Here are Hammond’s answers to most-frequent questions:
1. Get a license. Several years ago, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources began requiring fishermen to buy a saltwater recreational fishing license. Statse residents pay $10 for an annual saltwater license and $5 for a 14-day. Out-of-staters pay $35 for an annual permit and $11 for a 14-day permit.
2. Fish close in. Many barrier-island beaches have installed rock groins to prevent beach erosion. Those rocks will have 4 feet of water on them at high tide as the surf wash keeps small crabs and baitfish stirred up for flounder, redfish, pompano and trout. Other suggestions are the Charleston County Park piers at Folly Beach and Mount Pleasant or the public piers at Sunrise Park on James Island, Brittlebank Park on the peninsula or the new pier at Shem Creek.
3. Spinning tackle works great. Hammond said 10- to 15-pound class tackle will handle most of the species you’ll most likely encounter. Spool up with 10- to 15-pound braided line and use a 2-foot section of 20- to 30-pound leader for those fish with teeth.
4. Artificial or live bait? Hammond said the creeks are full of bait, so the best way to interest fish is using live or cut bait. Since shore-bound anglers can’t cover much ground to work artificials, it’s better to put out live or cut bait and let the fish find you. If you insist on artificial baits, use smaller soft plastics that imitate baitfish or shrimp and have built in scent to help attract fish.
5. Should I hire a guide? Absolutely. It’s worth every penny of the ballpark $400 you’ll pay, and you can split it two or three ways with friends to learn how and where to catch fish in the area and how the tide effects this fish or that fish. You can cut a week-long learning curve down to about 4 hours.