The South Carolina lowcountry, like much of the Carolinas, is experiencing some strange weather for February. Bitterly cold, sometimes rainy, days have been interrupted by strings of 60-degree days with enough sun and blue skies to trick us all into thinking spring is here. But hey, that’s better than weeks of sub 30-degree temperatures. The fish agree.
Scott Hammond, manager of Haddrell’s Point Tackle in West Ashley said the best fishing right now is on those warm days for redfish. He said anglers need to watch the weather and choose their fishing days wisely.
“Over the last few weeks, we’ve had streaks of rainy and windy conditions. Fortunately in between, there have been pockets of sunny days with temperatures even in the 60s. You need to really pick and choose your days. Those filled with sun and warmer temperatures can produce some excellent fishing,” said Hammond.
Redfish are the main gamefish species still hanging around inshore this time of year, and Hammond said they only have two concerns right now, and anglers can use them both to their advantage.
“Right now, a redfish has two priorities: don’t get eaten by a dolphin, and try to stay warm. The sun will make the water on the flats a few degrees warmer, and redfish congregated in large schools will flood these flats,” he said.
And those flats, said Hammond (843-573-3474) is where anglers should go too. But, they need to go there with as much stealth as possible.
“Often, you’ll find anything cast near the school will send fish fleeing,” he said.
Hammond said it’s best to give the school a wide berth, and instead of stalking them, figure out where they are heading, and get set up there, then wait for the fish to come to you.
“You’ll find more success putting out your baits and letting these schools slowly swim back to you,” he said.
Cracked blue crab, cut mullet, and mud minnows are good bait choices. Hammond suggests using Owner 3/0 circle hooks, and adding a split shot about 12-inches above the hook. Use as light a weight as you can get away with and still cast your desired distance.
Fly fishing is also a great method this time of year, said Hammond.
“Fly fishing can be on of the most effective ways to catch fish right now, as the flies make a delicate splash when landing. Flies that produce a small silhouette like a Clouser minnow are a good choice,” he said.