It’s no surprise that it’s hot. It’s August, so sweltering days are the norm, and a lot of anglers opt to stay indoors and wait for the fall bite. But ask Capt. Rob Bennett of Johns Island’s Lowcountry Inshore Charters about fishing this month, and you will get a different response. “I love August!” he will reply, followed by, “Fish with shrimp, and you can’t go wrong.”
Bennett said by mid-July, shrimp have normally flooded into South Carolina’s inshore waters, and the gamefish follow right behind them.
“For much of the summer, menhaden and mud minnows are the predominant baitfish, along with shrimp here and there. So once the shrimp come in strong, the fish really turn on, and that’s what has them biting so well throughout August,” Bennett said.
Redfish are Bennett’s favorite fish to pursue this month, and he said fishing around docks with deep water nearby is the key to getting on these fish.
“This month, a lot of redfish of various sizes will follow these shrimp around, and they love sticking close to the wooden structure of docks,” he said. “You’ll catch your share of rat reds, but quality redfish will be mixed in with them, too.”
Bennett (843-367-3777) utilizes a pretty basic rig: a 14-inch leader, a 1/0 Kahle hook, and a split shot that is just big enough to keep the bait anchored. He uses a barrel swivel above the leader to keep line twist to a minimum, loads a live shrimp onto the hook and pitches it toward the docks. He likes using braid in the 50-pound range, saying it casts easy due to its diameter (as thin as 10-pound mono), but it is strong enough to horse fish away from docks when you have to. He uses 7-foot medium to medium-light spinning rods with 2000- to 3000-class reels.
Anglers should start the day catching their own shrimp with a cast net.
“No one should buy shrimp from a bait store in August or September,” Bennett said. “They are just too plentiful in the creeks, and anyone can quickly learn how to throw a 4-foot cast net, which will catch all the bait you’ll need.”
Bennett said it is important for anglers to keep their shrimp alive in a livewell with a quality pump, not an aerator which just recycles the same water.
The incoming tide is Bennett’s favorite this month; any day when the crack of dawn happens within two hours of the incoming tide is like hitting the fish lottery.
“Everything comes together when the right tide meets sunrise; that’s the peak time to fish,” he said.
When not fishing around docks, Bennett keys on oyster shells in inlets and creeks. He said that once you enter an inlet with a long, sandy bank, you should focus on the first set of oysters you see.
“Anchor down 20 to 30 feet away from this bank and fling bait towards it,” said Bennett, who advises fishermen to use clip-on floats to be able to change the depth you’re fishing.
“Slip floats are great, but clip-on floats allow anglers to change between fishing on the bottom or a desired depth quickly and easily,” he said.
Redfish aren’t the only fish biting in these areas, either. Action on trout and ladyfish is strong this month, and it isn’t uncommon for one spot to give up all three of these species.
Anglers looking for something a little more adventurous in August don’t have to travel far. Tarpon are just off the beaches, and an easy way to find them is to find the sandbars at low tide or on a depth finder. Capt. Sam’s Inlet and Frampton Inlet and areas just outside them are places Bennett said anglers will likely find tarpon.
For silver kings, Bennett said anglers should beef up their gear to 4500-series reels; he prefers baitrunner reels, which allow the fish to pull line off the reel even when the reel is engaged. He suggests 8/0 Gamakatsu hooks on 6-foot fluorocarbon leaders of at least 30-pound test. Anglers should anchor down and cast out two bottom rigs and one on a large float. Bennett said when targeting tarpon, anglers should snell their hooks rather than use traditional knots.
August fishing is really the beginning of the fall run. Bennett said not to let the heat keep you away from it.