September is a great month for stalking tailing redfish, no matter what part of coastal South Carolina you’re fishing. It’s typically the last good month of fishing for reds this way, and for a number of reasons, it often produces the best tailing redfish action of the year. This September should be no different.
The transition from summer to fall is taking place, but let’s face it, this is South Carolina, and it’s still hot. Luckily for anglers, the transition is more noticeable to the fish, as the water temperatures experience a slight cooling trend before we feel it in the air. This cooling effect gets the gamefish biting even better than they have been.
Anglers looking to cast to tailing redfish have it pretty good this month. Sept. 1 brings the month in with the very end of August’s full moon, and with the moon 93-percent full on that day, the tides are greater than 5.5 feet, which means the spartina grass will have plenty of water covering it up and down the coast. Redfish will pile into this grass, looking for some of their favorite meals: tasty fiddler crabs and blue crabs. The new moon, which occurs on Sept. 13 will again bring tides of above 5.5 for several days.
The presence of redfish is easy to spot by seasoned anglers with an eye on the grass at high tide. Because fish are often longer than the water is deep, and because they are focusing on crabs that are crawling along the bottom, their tails wave above the water’s surface as if to say “cast here.” Anglers who are on target will often be rewarded with an aggressive bite.
The last week of September brings another full moon, and along with it, the third flood tides of the month, providing more days for anglers to target tailing reds in the grass.
Capt. Charlie Beadon of Beaufort Sport Fishing (842-592-0897) said this is one of the most exciting ways of catching redfish.
“I call it fishing with a hunting rod,” he said, “and we generally pick out an individual fish and stalk it as it cruises through the shallows feeding on crabs,” said Beadon, who often spends 15 minutes or so watching a single redfish before finally seeing an opportunity to make a good cast with either fly-fishing or light spinning tackle.
Capt. Steve Thomas of Hobcaw Barony in Georgetown (843-397-0592) agrees that September is one of the best months to catch tailing redfish, and he offers wading trips for anglers equipped with spinning tackle or fly rods, all within the boundaries of Hobcaw Barony.
“The effects of the new and the full moon create extremely high tides about six to eight days each month, which presents an excellent opportunity for the redfish to feast on fiddler and blue crabs,” said Thomas, who said crab patterns and lures are what he likes to tie on in September.
Thomas said that using spinning tackle will certainly give anglers a decent shot at catching these tailing fish, but he said this does limit your opportunities more than fly fishing. Because September starts and ends during full-moon phases, he believes this month will have more fishable days than most, and he prefers to fish in the mornings or late evenings. Using tide charts and moon-phase calendars, Thomas said the fishing should be ideal from Sept. 1 through Sept. 10, and then again from Sept. 23 all the way through Oct. 5.
Flies in crab patterns are good choices for fly fishermen; anglers should cast in front of redfish rather than behind them. Allowing the crab imitation to sink all the way to the bottom, then just giving it a quick twitch is a good presentation. Unweighted, soft-plastic Flukes are good lures for spinning anglers to try. These should be allowed to sink, then retrieved past the downturned noses of tailing redfish.
Even though the redfish are keying on crabs along the bottom, it isn’t imperative for anglers to pitch lures that sink. These fish are opportunistic feeders, and they will sense surface flies or lures, and they won’t pass up the opportunity to at least take a look at the lures and consider making a meal out of them.