Finally, some relief from the heat. That’s great news for anglers, because fish like the fall weather as much as those pursuing them. Cooler water has been pushing inshore for several weeks, and with some of the coolest nights South Carolina has seen in several months, conditions are right for catching a variety of species both inshore and nearshore.
The star of the show this month, according to Capt. Charlie Beadon of Hilton Head Fishing Adventures, is bull redfish, but catching an inshore slam of redfish, sea trout and flounder is always a possibility this time of year.
“The inshore action is as good as it gets and will stay this way over the next few months,” Beadon said. “This is the season that I look forward to all year, and for good reason.… The fish are plentiful, and they are feeding hard. Most of the backwater creeks are loaded with shrimp and baitfish, which is providing an abundance of food for the redfish, speckled sea trout and flounder to fatten up on.”
Beadon said with the shrimp and baitfish so plentiful, anglers looking to keep things simple can have a field day with nothing more than light spinning gear, a popping cork and a live shrimp or mud minnow. This rig will result in solid action for redfish and trout, especially around oyster rakes, grass edges and creek mouths. Foregoing the cork and fishing a mud minnow on the bottom will increase anglers’ chances at catching flounder, but you won’t hurt your chances of hooking up with reds or trout.
Anglers looking for a bit more of a challenge will still find fish biting soft-plastic artificials. Beadon (843-592-0897) isn’t too picky about which lures he uses, but D.O.A. shrimp and Gulp! soft plastics are two he’ll be throwing this month. He suggests anglers stick to those same creeks mouths, oyster rakes and grass edges with these lures and said anglers should exercise a little more patience with these artificials than is necessary with live bait.
“But,” Beadon said, “when the fish are biting really good, it’s much better to use artificials because you don’t waste time putting a new bait on your hook each time. You just unhook the fish and cast again.”
October is a great time to catch bull redfish. While some are hanging around creeks, Beadon said the best chance at hooking up with a 25- to 45-pound bull lies in deeper water around nearshore wrecks, where he targets them with live bait and gear that is a little heavier than he uses inshore.
While Beadon does most of his fishing in the Lowcountry, he said the trend is consistent up and down the coast, and Capt. Justin Witten of Fly Girl Charters in Murrells Inlet agrees. Witten enjoys putting clients on bull redfish along the jetties.
“Especially when the tide is changing — either incoming or outgoing — the best thing to do is anchor down within casting distance of the jetty, use a 4000-series spinning reel, cast a live bait where it lands just a couple of feet off the jetty, stick the rod in the rod holder, and wait,” said Witten (843-798-9100). “But don’t wait too long, because the fish are here, and plenty are willing to bite, so don’t be afraid to reel in and cast to a different spot if your bait isn’t getting hit.”
Witten agrees that October is a great month for all species of saltwater fish.
“This is the time of year all saltwater anglers look forward to,” he said. “The inshore waters are full of baitfish, and the gamefish know they need to feed up while they can. Some are about to move offshore for the winter, but even for the ones that stay inshore, they know the abundance of bait that is currently available isn’t going to last forever. They know they need to feed while they can, so they are biting willingly, and nothing makes for better fishing than fish that are eager to bite,” he said.
Beadon said many anglers overlook the abundance of shrimp inshore this month, and that they should remember that shrimp isn’t just for bait. A few tosses with the cast net can result in plenty of bait, and also plenty of shrimp for the table as well.