Rob Bennett grew up fishing the waters around Folly Beach, Kiawah Island and the Stono River, and he's never found a reason to leave them.

Bennett, who lives on John's Island and operates Lowcountry Inshore Charters, said it's an excellent stretch of water that includes three rivers, plenty of marsh, oysters, bluff banks and laydown trees - a mixture of just about every kind of habitat fishermen along South Carolina's coastline regularly encounter.

"You've got three major rivers (the Kiawah, Folly and Stono) going out through Stono Inlet, and you've got great tidal flow and a great flush. You're so close to the ocean you get pristine water," he said. "The three rivers provide a variety of structure and cover and you can fish flats, fish oysters or fish bluff banks.

"The fishing here is as good as anywhere on the coast."

Bennett said the area's two main public ramps, the Battery Island, aka Sol Legare Ramp, on Sol Legare Rd., and the Folly Beach ramp at the base of the SC 171 bridge, are convenient to most of the better fishing areas. Crabbing and oystering are local specialities, and there's plenty of forage fish and crustaceans for predator fish like flounder, trout and redfish.

He calls the vast area of marsh behind Kiawah Island, "Bulls Bay with houses around it," and believes that although development has stripped some of the area's character, it's also created a lot of great fishing around docks.

Several docks or sets of docks are among some of his favorite places to fish in the fall:

 

1 - Old Concrete Dock, Folly River

The remnants of an old concrete structure break up a series of newer docks along the left-hand bank of the Folly River, a hundred yards or so upstream from Folly Marina. Bennett said it's a sheepshead hangout, but he also catches an occasional redfish around it.

He likes to fish fiddler crabs or shrimp on a split-shot ring around the pilings, the last half of the falling tide and first half of the rising tide.

"It's a really good sheepshead spot in spring, summer and fall," Bennett said.

 

2 - Marker 16 Hole

Several hundred yards up the same bank, past the marina and in front of channel marker No. 16, is a bank that is a perfect example of what fishermen refer to as an "edge."

According to Bennett, fish coming from Stono Inlet head down a bank that's nothing but sand, sand, sand, sand - and all of the sudden, there's marsh grass and a oyster shells.

"They come running up the bank, and when they hit the shells, they put on the brakes," he said.

A shipwreck on the bank and a drain creek marks the end of the sandy bank; the shells run from the upstream side of the drain creek several hundred yards, and Bennett said the entire bank can be productive.

"I've been fishing here since I was a kid, and I've caught trout, redfish and flounder on this spot," he said. "It's a great spot from July through November. It's not really the little creek that's important; it's the shells in front of the bank."

Bennett fishes live shrimp or live mullet minnows on a popping cork of a split-shot rig.

 

3 - Coal Creek Trees

Bennett loves to fish steep banks with lots of shallow cover for redfish, and a bank full of huge laydown trees certainly fills that bill.

"You come in the mouth of Coal Creek and when you go past the first dock on the left, you fish the bluff bank with all the trees; this place is like the North Edisto River," he said. "You'll catch reds and trout around the trees on the last two hours of the outgoing tide and the first two hours of the incoming tide.

The deep drop-off close to the bank - it's 10 feet deep a half-cast off the bank - makes this a great spot year-round.

"You'll get hung up a lot, but the fish you'll catch will make up for it," Bennett said. "I've had days in September when we've caught 50 fish off these trees."

Bennett likes to fish the bank on a falling tide, with live bait or some of the more popular imitation shrimp, and he said that any "flavored" plastic will work.

 

4 - Mouth of Folly River

A green can buoy bearing the No. 9 marks the mouth of the Folly River, and it also points fishermen to one of the area's better banks for fall speckled trout fishing.

"The trout move into this area as the water cools in the fall," said Bennett, who fishes the marsh bank on the mainland side of the buoy marker. "I've always said the first marsh-grass point you come to after you come in any inlet is a good spot, and this is typical of places all over South Carolina. This is a particularly good bank to fish."

Bennett likes to float a live shrimp, mud minnow or finger mullet under a float. He'll catch an occasional red, but mostly speckled trout.

"You've got shells all the way along the bank," he said. "I like to anchor up and pitch up toward the bank and just let the current carry it along. I like to fish it more on an incoming tide.

 

5 -Sandy Point

The spit that on the northern tip of Kiawah Island is a big-fish dream for Bennett, who said bull redfish fish will show up just outside the breakers and sandbars in June and stay well into the fall, often until November.

"There are a lot of gulleys between the sandbars, and most of the time the reds will move in there to feed," he said. "I like to anchor up outside and throw my baits in. I think a lot of menhaden come past this spot. There's about a half-mile of breakers you can fish before the bank cuts back in a place we call the 'Kiawah Hook.'"

Bennett fishes heavy outfits in this spot - a 2-ounce bank sinker, a 100-pound fluorocarbon leader and an 8/0 circle hook with a big chunk of mullet - because of the possibility of hooking a true bull redfish, and also for the possibility of getting a chance to fight the occasional tarpon that shows up.

"At low tide, when it's not too rough, you'll find 'em," he said.

 

6 -Kiawah/Stono River Point

Bennett calls the marsh point that juts out on the mainland side where the Kiawah and Stono rivers meet "a great trout spot."

About 20 yards from the tip of the point on the Kiawah side is a easily located white shell bank. Bennett starts at the point and fishes several hundred yards of bank toward the Kiawah River.

"I like to fish the Kiawah side of the point with a Gulp! shrimp or a twistertail grub under a popping cork," he said. "This is a typical trout set-up. You've got deep water close to the bank, and they love it."

 

7 - Abbapoola Creek Trees

Bennett said this entire creek is a great area to troll soft-plastics for speckled trout in the fall, but he targets another bluff bank with laydown trees for redfish.

"You go past the first dock in the creek, around a horseshoe bend and past the second dock, and you fish the whole bank with the rocks and big trees in the water," he said. "You can catch some trout here, but it's mostly reds.

"The creek channel runs close to the bank, and you should start on the first tree and fish all the way to the (marsh) grass," he said. "I like to fish the last two hours of the outgoing tide and the first two hours of the incoming tide with a shrimp, mud minnow or finger mullet on a split-shot rig."

 

8 - Snake Island Flats

The Stono-Kiawah area doesn't have a lot of spots to fish
shallow flats, but this spot reminds Bennett of some of the great flats north of Charleston.

"This whole flat is just one big redfish spot," he said. "It's a shallow, mud flat with oysters up on the bank. I fish it from the sailboat wreck all the way to the Snake Island dock.

"Reds will be on this flat all the time, and there will be some great big schools on it in the winter. I like to fish it on an outgoing tide, and you can fish it with or live bait."

 

9 - Cinder Creek Docks

Both Bass and Cinder creeks drain large areas of marsh behind Kiawah Island; Bennett said Bass Creek got its name from all the spot-tail bass (redfish) caught there in the distant past.

Bennett loves to fish a series of five large docks on the right side of Cinder Creek as you twist and turn up the creek.

"This place is right across the river from the (Sol) Legere ramp, so it's the first spot a lot of people hit on their trips from Folly Beach," he said. "The redfish will get up under the docks. I like to park next to the docks on the downcurrent side and pitch my baits up under the docks.

"The fish will be there on an incoming or outgoing tide; you just change spots."

Bennett said that before Kiawah Island was developed as a vacation mecca, the bank where the docks are located was a great bluff bank with all kinds of laydown trees – a textbook bank.

"This used to be one of the best redfish spots in South Carolina," he said. "But, the fish are still here."

Because of electronics problems, no gps numbers were available to run with this Saltwater Series feature.