As the water warms, fishermen who love to target redfish in ankle-deep water are in luck. A decent set of afternoon tailing tides arrive next week, just in time for many vacationers to hit the South Carolina coast, fishing rods in hand.
For those few days every month when the flood tides are, the crab population becomes a primary target for reds who “tail” in the marshes, eating anything they can find wearing a shell. It’s prime time to catch one of these pigs rooting in the spartina grass for a crunchy dinner.
Unfortunately, the window of opportunity is a small one, and it closes quickly, so picking the right lures to use is important. Guides up and down the coast mark their calendars for tailing tide, and they know exactly what kind of carrot to dangle from their graphite fishing sticks.
Capt. Greg Holmes of Fish Skinny Charters in Little River alternates between spinning and fly-fishing gear when reds go up on the tailing flats.
“When the wind is blowing, I pick up the spinning rod and rig a scented Z-Man Jerk Shadz on a large, 3/0 worm hook,” said Holmes (843-241-0594). “The (lure) will float by itself, and the weight of the hook brings the lure down to the bottom gently. It gives you some suspension time that few other lures can give you.”
Holmes prefers lighter colors in low-light situations on tailing tides and darker colors when there is more sunlight on the water.
When the wind is not blowing, Holmes will break out his fly gear and sling a gold Dupree Spoon Fly.
“If he isn’t eating that, he will not eat nothing. They are little, but the fish will stomp it,” he said.
A little further to the south in Georgetown, Capt. Jordan Pate of Carolina Guide Service focuses on weedless lures.
“I like to use a smaller-profile bait in the grass. The C.A.L. weedless jerkbait in red glitter, made by D.O.A., is my go-to bait for sure,” said Pate (843-814-7900). “Since they are smaller baits, I will use a smaller hook around a 3/0.”
Pate looks for baits that have a low profile and are not heavy.
“You don’t want to spook them,” says Pate.
Capt. Tommy Scarborough of Georgetown Coastal Adventures is a tailing-tide fanatic. He prefers to use shrimp imitations threaded on a small jighead.
“I use a 1/8-ounce jighead and a 3-inch Gulp! Shrimp in new penny (color), It has been a real winner for me in all of our tournaments,” said Scarborough (843-546-3543). “Even in some wind, you can cast it with more accuracy than just throwing the typical jerk shad.”
Accuracy is important for casting to tailing fish, which are already feeling uneasy swimming around in six inches of water. These fish know the water will be receding soon, and they have almost nowhere to go if trouble shows up. Many times, anglers will only get one shot at a tailing fish, and an accurate cast is crucial.
Tailing tides along the Grand Strand and down to Georgetown will be June 11-13.