At first, Justin Carter of DIG Charters in Mt Pleasant thought he’d hooked into a nice sized redfish. Carter and pal Dolphin Dave Hamilton were fishing the mouth of a tributary in the Wando River on Wednesday when his 3/8 oz Z-Man Trout Eye jighead paired with a Blue Pearl SwimmerZ body was engulfed by the trout of a lifetime in any part of the country, but nearly unheard of in Charleston area waters.

“The fish hit the jighead and tore off about 75 feet of line,” said Carter (843-725-8784). “Then she came back around and when the fish turned sideways, both Dave and I saw it was a trout and we nearly fell out of the boat.”

After a 7 to 8 minute fight on 15-pound test Seaguar Smackdown braided line, Carter managed the fish to the boat where Hamilton got the net on it. Carter said it was a great team effort because big trout are notorious for shaking jigheads loose right at the boat.

“As soon as I touched the jighead with the pliers, it fell out of the fish’s mouth,” he said. “She was just barely still hooked.”

Carter said this spring has been phenomenal in his experience with catching gator trout. A couple of weeks ago on a scouting trip, he landed a 6 pounder and he and Hamilton both have caught numerous fish in the 3 and 4 pound range this spring. 

The big trout, which measured 28 inches in length, and pulled the scales on the guide’s certified Boga Grip to 10 pounds, 2 ounces, was duly photographed, measured and promptly released. Carter said he has seen and caught large trout in other states, but this is definitely the biggest he has ever caught from Charleston area waters.

“I think we have some big trout in the state, but the better ones seem to be in those cleaner water areas to the north,” he said. “Trout are sight feeders and eat more often in clean water. I also think it helps that we’ve had several mild winters in a row that have provided a longer growing season, but this fish was old and has seen a lot of years, both good and bad.”

Carter said the fish hit on a drop-off in 7 to 8 feet of water inside a creek tributary during a falling tide that was only about halfway through the cycle.

“We were waiting for the tide to get lower, and we were going to start targeting reds,” he said. “I guess I’ve got a trout reproduction to order in the near future.”