As the summer heat continues to pound South Carolina, the fall cool-down can’t arrive soon enough. But early risers who don’t mind getting out of bed in the wee hours of the morning can have their cake and eat it, too, because the redfish are pouncing on topwater flies at first light.

For fly-fishing guide Jeff Lattig of Living Water Guide Service, the topwater action around Georgetown is as hot as high noon.

“I have had many fly anglers over the last two weeks, and the fishing has been epic, to say the least,” said Lattig (843-997-4655). “We have had some great tides, and the fish have been eating flies very well at first light.”

The waters around North Inlet will be the coolest just after daylight, before the sun climbs high into the morning sky, and it’s feeding time for many species. For Lattig, the low tides over the last week have transformed the good bite into an epic one.

“I patrol low water at dawn along the shallow sandbars next to deep water. There are plenty of small schools of five to 15 fish in there tailing and blowing up on bait,” he said.

Lattig will fish early whether the tide is high or low. Fish are doing most of their feeding at first light, and water depth is not a limiting factor. On high water, he finds fish positioned around the highest vantage points, in just enough water to live without being detected.

“High tide can be great at dawn, too. The fish will be laying on high spots like oyster rakes and sand bars ambushing bait,” he said. 

As a dedicated fly angler, the typical gurgler and topwater popper is his go-to lure, but any traditional topwater plugs will also draw strikes from these aggressive morning pigs. Lately, the water in North Inlet is stained, and as a result, Lattig is selecting flies in black and purple, but chartreuse and white are still producing regular strikes.

For anglers conditioned to catch redfish on topwater lures and flies, getting the strike only takes the angler half-way to getting a fish into the boat.

“We miss a lot of redfish bites on topwater because of the position of the redfish’s mouth. But strip-setting will keep the lure in the strike zone on a miss, giving the fish or another fish an opportunity to take the fly,” he said.  

With two months left before the fall season really kicks off, the early topwater bite should continue to provide North Inlet anglers with a solid fishery. The awesome action at first light may not last long, but it is well worth the price of admission