Trout, flounder, reds are on the menu for inshore anglers
Summer has arrived, and inshore waters are firing off on all cylinders. Estuaries explode with life, with thousands of small fish and crustaceans kicking along in the shallow waters for which South Carolina is well known. One of the most-popular estuaries is Port Royal Sound. And it is loaded with Port Royal’s trifecta of speckled trout, redfish and flounder.
Guide Owen Plair of Beaufort SC Fishing Charters spends nearly every day on the Port Royal Sound. And his June fishing can be off the chain for all three of these favored inshore species.
“June is a spectacular month for a lot of resident and seasonal species,” said Plair (843-812-3656). “You can sometimes catch 12 different species on a half-day trip.”
Port Royal Sound is covered with oysters, marsh grass and other structures. These areas serve as nurseries for juvenile sea life. And they double as feeding zones for larger predators.
“Baitfish choose places near structure to hide from predators,” he said. “If I were a mud minnow, I’d rather be on the edge of an oyster or spartina bed than in 5 feet of water.”
But inshore gamefish are masters at their game. So they find plenty of grub in and around these grass edges and oyster beds. And the movement of water changes the baitfish’s positions. This creates ambush opportunities on both sides of the tide.
Same rig catches multiple species
“Moving water is critically important this time of year. It flushes fresh bait out of the creeks or right back into the creeks,” Plair said. “One of the great things about summertime is one spot can produce reds, trout, and flounder on the same rig.”
Plair will use live bait and artificial lures. Live bait is a prime option for many anglers, and it is definitely a good choice to put fish in the ice chest. He recommends live mud minnows or shrimp under a rattling popping cork like the Cajun Thunder.
“The rattles will grasp the attention of predators and can be the perfect accompaniment to any live-bait choice,” he said.
While Plair will regularly use live bait, he prefers artificial lures rigged weedless.
“Outside of a topwater Zara Spook for early in the morning, I like to use a weedless setup to stay off the shells and grass. You get more time fishing when the bait is weedless, and I usually catch more fish than when using live bait,” he said.
Plair prefers to use a scented soft plastic like the Gulp Mantis Shrimp rigged on a 3/0, weedless Gamakatsu hook. His favorite color around Port Royal Sound is root beer with a chartreuse tail.
“The Mantis shrimp is my favorite, because it is scented and has a lot of movement from the tail and its small appendages,” he said. “I have caught 8-inch trout with this bait to 30-inch reds, and even some jumbo cobia. It’s one of my favorites that will catch about anything.”