Guide Kevin Blair may love fishing artificials for redfish, especially topwaters, but he doesn’t discount live or cut bait. When reds are being picky, Blair will switch to cut or live bait: shrimp, mullet, mud minnows fiddler and blue crabs.
Despite the bitter cold, anglers are taking advantage of a strong redfish bite in the marshes North Inlet are reaping the rewards with daily double-digit catches. And Capt. Tommy Scarborough of Georgetown Coastal Adventures has been right in the middle of the action.
Cold weather has been here for a while, and while these chilly days aren’t the most comfortable for anglers, they can provide some great inshore fishing. This time of year typically brings less rainfall than South Carolina has had in months, and along with vegetation that has died or is dying back due to the cold, that means crystal-clear water is usually easy to find. This is a plus for anglers, but not all anglers know how to take advantage of clear water.
The bull redfish are abundant in the Edisto area, and anglers looking to tussle with them are finding plenty in the creeks, just off the beaches, and all around the near-shore reefs. The biggest concentration, however, is just off the beach in what is known locally as “The Rocks” – the many rock piles littered along the ocean floor about a mile off the beach.
Fishermen targeting red drum often scour the skinny waters of far-removed marshes or bays as if in search of hidden treasure. While one may be found there, one guide has discovered a pot of redfish gold hidden in plain sight. Inside New River Inlet, around Sneads Ferry, locating deep-water oyster beds is the key to tangling with quality reds.
Capt. Ricky Kellum of Jacksonville’s Speckled Specialist Inshore Fishing Charters fishes the New River from the inlet to Sneads Ferry, chasing the best bite around. According to him, the likelihood of hooking a red that’s above-average in size is one of the main draws inside the inlet.
As the summer sun resets towards its fall position, redfish are in transition up and down South Carolina’s coast as forage species begin to relocate. And the Wando River, which begins and ends within Charleston County’s borders, supports a massive shrimp population that fires up the feisty reds that call it home. Beginning this month and continuing into the fall, anglers can home in on the Wando River for their redfish fix.
Like the character Tommy in the rock opera “Pinball Wizard,” red drum often feed in turbid or dirty water where they can’t see; this means they play almost entirely by their sense of smell, even relying on it in clear water.
Folks from all over the world head to Hilton Head every year in search of one thing; golf. Golf courses, condos, shopping centers, jet skis, and likely the greatest concentration of Ohio license plates outside of Ohio pretty much sums up the Hilton Head experience for most visitors. A lesser known fact is that Hilton Head is also home to some of the best tailing redfish flats in the state.
During the spring, redfish, trout and flounder step up to the plate and really begin to gather up the groceries. From finger mullet, mud minnows, crabs and shrimp, plenty of staple food resources are available in a variety of different places. However, anglers will continue to target their prey on the shallow flats and creeks where many of the spring schools will remain to play. And even though food is abundant and marine mammals are less of a concern, fishermen can still be there own worst enemy.
The bite is on in the inshore waters and nearshore reefs around Hilton Head, and Capt. Rick Percy of Reel Chance Charters said getting out on even the cold days has proven fruitful. He is finding big schools of redfish on flats that have not typically held big schools in the past several years, and he’s catching them on Gulp! shrimp.
Cold weather has redfish schooling in huge numbers in the inshore waters around Charleston, and while these fish are wary at times, they will bite throughout the day if anglers offer them the right baits and don’t disturb them too much. Capt. Geoff Bennett of Charleston Charter Fishing advises fishermen to tackle these schools with a mixture of natural bait and artificial lures.