September is a big month for transition in fishing along South Carolina’s coast. Most years, September feels pretty much like August to anglers, but the ocean waters are already cooling and bringing about changes in the feeding behaviors of the fish. While October is the month that many diehard saltwater anglers look forward to, September’s fishing can be great, too.

“Even though some of the days, especially early in the month, can be just as hot as summer, the nights are beginning to cool off a little, and the ocean water is cooling,” said Rick Percy of Beaufort’s Reel Chance Charters. “It feels little different to us, but the fish feel it in a major way. They get turned on this month, and they will start to bite noticeably better than they have for the past couple of months.” 

Percy said this is the beginning of what he calls the “no-brainer” season for fishing. As fish notice the changes in water temperatures, they know cold weather is coming, and they begin to feed heavily on the mullet and shrimp that pack the estuaries of the Lowcountry. 

Redfish and speckled trout are Percy’s main targets, and he said they bite equally well on the same baits and lures.

“We are generally fishing live bait like shrimp under popping corks. When fished properly, popping corks simulate the sound of fish feeding and tend to draw fish to the bait. They are especially deadly on sea trout and redfish,” said Percy (803-535-6166).

Percy relies on MidCoast popping corks, which he said have the right balance of weight, sound and aerodynamics to keep even beginning anglers casting to the proper spots, even on windy days.

“A lot of people think all popping corks are the same, but if you use an inferior one, especially on a day with some wind, you’re not going to have the same success as you would with a high quality popping cork,” he said.

Percy likes to fish areas with current moving around shell beds. As the tide moves in either direction, it will push baitfish around those shell beds. It will do the same with a live bait under a popping cork, drawing strikes predictably enough that Percy can often call them just before they take place.

Artificial lures are also good this time of year, and Percy’s favorites are Norton Sand Eel Juniors in pearl, glow, or clear, and Vudu shrimp, which he likes to cast alone, or under a popping cork.