It’s summer; it’s hot, and almost every living creature is seeking shade every day. The Stono River south of Charleston, S.C., has plenty of docks — and plenty of redfish. It follows that redfish in the Stono will spend a good portion of their summer in the shade of docks, and that’s where Stephen Fields of Charleston Fishing Company likes to concentrate his fishing efforts in July.
“These redfish are just like people,” Fields said. “On a hot day, they want to do everything they can to keep cool, and one way they do that is by laying in the shade of docks. And at some point, no matter how hot it is, they are going to eat, so pitching bait and lures into the shade is a good way to target them.”
Fields said redfish aren’t too picky about what they eat. Live shrimp and mud minnows are always good bets, and the key to fishing these in the summer is to cast them tight to docks, then be patient.
“The fish are there, but they are going to eat on their own schedule. Once you’ve found some good shade on a dock, you don’t want to cause too much commotion moving around. It’s best to stay put and have patience. It can be a bit of a waiting game,” he said.
Fields has a different take when using artificial lures in these same areas.
“When casting lures, you want to cover as much ground as possible. LIVETARGET’s hybrid shrimp is a good hard-plastic lure to use; you cast and retrieve it just like largemouth bass anglers use crankbaits. Z-Man’s soft plastics are also excellent choices around docks and weed lines.
“Anything that offers shade is a good target to cast to,” he said.
Fields (843-412-6811) said anglers should cover docks thoroughly when using artificial lures. He suggests casting parallel to one side of the dock, then retrieving your lure as close as possible, even bumping the lure into the pilings. Next, he likes to cast as far under the dock as possible. Lastly, he’ll cover the other side of the dock the same way he covered the first side.
“You’re looking for more of a reaction strike when using lures over live bait,” he said, “so you want to make sure you draw attention to your lures.”
As always, Fields prefers some movement one way or the other from the tide, but he said anglers shouldn’t stop fishing once the tide goes slack.
“It is a little tougher at slack tide, but you can still catch them. Don’t be afraid to change lures often if you’re not getting bit,” he said.