Redfish are traveling in schools in the Charleston area, and anglers are finding them willing to bite as long as the fish don’t feel too crowded, and as long as the anglers have more patience than normal.
Capt. Justin Carter of DIG Charters said the key to catching these schooling redfish is to be careful not to spook them, which is easier to do this time of year than any other. The water is usually gin clear in many areas, and while that helps anglers to spot the schools, it also allows the fish to see great distances, and makes them wary.
One trick Carter uses to overcome this challenge is he scales down the size of his fluorocarbon leaders, and he makes them considerably longer than most anglers do.
“I use braid for my mainline, and I use a fluorocarbon leader in 10-pound test. I also make my leaders around three-feet long. This ensures that redfish aren’t looking ahead of my lure and seeing my braided line just 12-inches away. This water is crystal clear, and these fish are wary, so I want to take every precaution I can to not spook them,” said Carter.
An added bonus is that this extra-long leader allows for retying lures without having to add a new leader nearly as often as when using a foot-long leader.
Another precaution Carter said is a must, is that anglers should only makes casts to the edges of the schools.
“A lot of anglers say you can only cast to the front of the school, but I’ve found that as long as you cast to the edges, you’re okay. You don’t want to cast into the center of the group, but casting to the edge of the school near the center isn’t going to send them fleeing any more than casting to the leading fish will,” he said.
Carter said these fish are biting a variety of soft plastic lures like Z-Man PaddlerZ. He threads them onto 3/16- or 1/8-ounce jigheads. Blue crabs, which Carter said are surprisingly still around this late in the season, are also excellent baits.
No matter what bait or lure he is throwing, Carter casts them on 7 1/2- to 8-foot long St. Croix Avid or Legend Xtreme Inshore rods, which feature a uniquely textured handle that is easy to grip no matter what the weather is like, and no matter how much fish slime is coated onto it.
“The longer rods add distance to your casting range, and that helps you stay farther away from the fish. I like medium-light rods, which help you to make soft presentations with your lure. All these details add up, and allow you to stay with a school of fish for an extended time without spooking them all away,” he said.