Saltwater anglers looking for some hot action are finding it around Charleston. Redfish, trout and bonnethead sharks are eagerly biting a variety of baits throughout the inlets, creeks, and jetties of the Holy City.
Capt. Geoff Bennett of Charleston Charter Fishing said it's been a great summer of fishing and just keeps getting better. Some anglers may argue, saying the summer heat turns the fish off, but Bennett said the solution for that is easy.
"As it becomes progressively hotter, anglers will increasingly want to fish early before the heat of the day arrives," said Bennett, who said reds, specks and bonnetheads have been particularly active. The techniques for catching each are pretty simple to master.
"For redfish, we've been focused on docks where reds become concentrated as the water drains out around them," said Bennett, who recommends using Carolina rigs with 3/0 circle hooks and said it's best to let the circle hook do its job hooking the fish rather than setting the hook yourself. "Put the fishing rod down in the rod holder. When a redfish strikes, wait until the drag starts to scream and you will have a solid hookup for sure."
When it comes to speckled trout, Bennett (843-324-3332) said anglers should focus on shell rakes, creek mouths and along grassy banks. Spots with all three in close proximity are prime spots for trout to ambush prey and are just as good for anglers to ambush trout. Bennett usually likes to target trout with live shrimp and mud minnows under popping corks, but he said the shrimp don't hold up as well against nuisance bait thieves like bluefish.
"With so many bait stealers in the water, we have been using almost exclusively minnows," he said.
The bonnethead bite started off hot this year and has only gotten stronger. Bennett uses Carolina rigs and said cut blue crab and shrimp are great shark baits, but that nothing beats fresh cut chunks of ladyfish. He concentrates on drop-offs with sharp changes in water depths. Bennett's favorite part about shark fishing is introducing youth anglers to the sport of fishing. These fish are so aggressive and plentiful, that it isn't uncommon for young anglers who have never caught a fish to catch a dozen in one outing, and these sharks give them a fight they'll never forget.