July is a great month for catching bull redfish in the Lowcountry, and one of the best places to catch them is around jetties, especially in the Charleston area.
Capt. Stephen Fields of Charleston Fishing Company said even though anglers put heavy fishing pressure on these rock formations, they continue to produce throughout the summer.
“A variety of species stay close to the jetties this time of year, and bull redfish are one of the main draws for anglers,” he said. “It’s not difficult to catch these fish here, but with all the fishing pressure, doing things a little differently than everyone else can mean the difference between an average day of fishing and having the best fishing day of your life,” he said.
Anyone can anchor down within casting distance of a jetty and cast a bottom rig close to it, then wait on the fish to take the bait. In all honesty, that’s really all jetty fishing amounts to, but it’s really not as simple as it sounds, according to Fields.
“There is nothing fancy about this type of fishing. If you soak bait long enough in the right spot this month, you’re going to hook your share of bull reds, but a few tips can help land those bulls and catch even more,” he said.
Having the right equipment is a key to catching these fish.
“Spinning reels in the 5000 to 6500 range are common sizes here. You don’t want to go with anything smaller than that, because on top of the bull reds, you never know when you’re going to hook a really big shark or stingray, and you don’t want to get spooled or have your gear ruined,” said Fields, who uses Carolina rigs with 2- to 3-foot leaders of 80- to 100-pound fluorocarbon leaders, 3/0 hooks, 1/2- to 2 ounce sinkers, and 60- to 80-pound monofilament on his reel. “You definitely need to beef up your tackle to fish around the jetties.”
Fields said some parts of the jetties are more likely to hold fish than others; he said it’s similar to fishing the inshore creeks.
“When fishing a creek, I’m always looking for something that is a little different. There may be dozens of docks in a creek, but I’m looking for the dock that has something a little different than the rest of them,” he said. “Maybe one has a feeder creek beside it or an abnormally-shaped bank—anything different can give the fish something to relate to that is unique to that dock.
“The same is true with jetties. It’s basically a big rocky wall, but you can find parts of that rock wall that are different than the rest. Maybe one section is just a little shorter than the rest, which allows water to pass over it at high tide, or maybe one section juts in or out a foot or two more than the rest. Any change like that will hold more fish for a longer period of time than the norm.”
Anglers should also use their sonar to find features of the jetty that can’t be seen otherwise.
“Around most jetties, small groups of rock have caved in. These groups might be just a few feet off the jetty or a dozen feet off, and are never exposed even at low tide. Those small rock piles can be a gold mine, and when fishing slows to the point that no one is catching fish around the jetty, making a cast to these small piles is often all it takes to get into the fish again,” said Fields, who uses a number of different live baits but is a big fan of quartered blue crabs.
“I pull the shell off the crab, cut the legs off, and quarter the body. Bull redfish love this bait, and if I could only have one bait at the jetties, it would be quartered blue crab.”
Aside from fishing on the bottom, some anglers also have success using natural baits under popping corks. Fields said these jetties have underwater ledges that some fish will suspend around, and using corks can help keep the bait at the proper depth.
While Fields believes both the north and south jetties are equally good, he prefers fishing the south jetty on an incoming tide and the north jetty on the outgoing, especially throughout the summer.
“The two most popular spots at the jetties for bulls this month are two well-known areas that you can find on any map: the Grillage and the Dynamite Hole. Fishing during either incoming or outgoing tide is always better than slack tide,” Fields said.
HOW TO GET THERE — To reach Charleston, take I-26 from points west, US 17 and US 52 from points north and US 17 from points south. Remley’s Point and Shem Creek boat landings in Mount Pleasant offer easy access to Charleston Harbor, as does Wappoo Cut landing in the West Ashley section of Charleston.
WHEN TO GO — Redfish reach “bull” status when they measure over 30 inches long. They travel in large numbers into Charleston Harbor and the jetties beginning in May, and the fishing really gets hot throughout July, August, and September.
BEST TECHNIQUES — Anchor near the jetties, especially within casting distance of any breaks, ledges or washed-out areas. Fish live or cut bait on the bottom with Carolina rigs. Popping corks are also effective with the same baits. Heavy tackle is necessary. Fish the incoming and outgoing tides for the best luck.
FISHING INFO/GUIDES — Capt. Stephen Fields, Charleston Fishing Company, 843-412-6811, www.redfishcharleston.com; Capt. Amy Little, Fine Lines Charters, 843-345-1310, www.finelinescharters.com; Capt. Addison Rupert, Lowcountry Outdoor Adventures, 843-557-3476, www.lowcountryoutdooradventures.com; Capt. Robert Olsen, Knot@Work Charters, 843-442-7724, www.knotatworkfishing.com; Capt. Tom Siwarski, Carolina Aero Marine Adventures, 843-327-3434 www.carolinaaeromarine.com; The Charleston Angler, Charleston, 843-571-3899; Haddrell’s Point Tackle, Mt. Pleasant, 843-881-3644; Atlantic Game and Tackle, Mt. Pleasant, 843-881-6900. See also Guides and Charters in Classifieds.
ACCOMMODATIONS — La Quinta Inn & Suites, Charleston, 843-556-5200; Best Western Patriots Point, Mount Pleasant, 843-971-7070; Town and Country Inn, Charleston 800-334-6660.