If you are a hard-core saltwater fishermen and don’t store your tackle after Christmas, there’s a good chance that you love to sight-fish for redfish on the flats back in sounds, bays and rivers along the coastline of both Carolinas.
After all, reds gang up in big schools and get in the skinniest water possible to avoid predation from bottlenose dolphin — which don’t have much else to eat during the winter. That’s where they’re all caught, right?
Well, maybe not all the time.
Rob Bennett, who runs Lowcountry Inshore Charters out of the Charleston suburb of John’s Island, S.C., said there’s another, very specific pattern that will produce plenty of winter reds, and nice ones, too.
“I love to go into small gutter creeks, maybe 10 to 20 yards wide at the mouth, because there will be deep holes either in front of or behind oyster mounds you find in the creek bends,” said Bennett (843-467-3777). “Those holes can be full of redfish, and you can really work on ’em.”
Bennett looks for gutter creeks that are close to big water, either the mouth of sounds, bays or rivers. He also looks for a creek mouth that’s got a big mud flat in front of it, because that makes it nearly impossible for a dolphin to get into the creek, and reds will feel safer.
“What happens is, on an outgoing tide, the reds will come out of these gutter creeks and get on the mud flats, and when the tide starts back in, they’ll go back into the creeks,” Bennett said. “They’ll get in those little deep holes and mill around, maybe 20 to 40 in a hole. I love to fish a soft-plastic, smoke/glitter grub on an 1/8- or 1/4-ounce jighead. And most of them are not small fish; they’ll be 5- to 8-pound fish.”
Bennett said it takes a boat with a very shallow draft to get back to these fish, but if you’ve got one, you can creek hop until you find the fish.
“They may be in one creek; the next one, maybe not,” Bennett said. “But you can go back in a creek, and you only have to go back about 100 yards and find that first deep hole. If they’re not there, you can go to the next creek, and they might be there.”