Lowcountry redfish begin schooling this month
December is all about catching schooling redfish on Lowcountry flats for the late Rick Percy of Reel Chance Charters in Beaufort, S.C.
“In the late fall and winter, all the way through to spring, our estuary system is loaded with large mud flats that hold a foot or two of water at dead low tide,” said Percy. “This is perfect habitat for redfish. And in late fall into the winter, these redfish begin to school.”
The schooling action is a survival technique for redfish. With most other gamefish and baitfish having headed offshore for the winter, redfish become primary targets of porpoises looking for an easy meal. So the redfish gang up in numbers and stay as shallow as possible to avoid becoming a snack.
Percy said it’s not difficult to locate redfish, especially when the water is clear. And clear water is often the case in December.
“Given calm winds and clear water, these redfish schools are not hard to find,” he said. “We’ll see them push a wake as they move down the flat. Or we’ll simply see the dark color of the mass of fish.”
Keep quiet for more chances at schooling fish
And when anglers find the fish, Perry said it’s time to hold the boat in position, keep as quiet as possible, and get ready to cast. The more noise coming from your boat, the fewer chances you’ll have at enticing these fish to bite,” he said.
Percy said a number of baits will work fine throughout the month. But he prefers one in particular.
“Cut mullet, shrimp, mud minnows, spoons and soft plastics all work. But my choice is free-lining a Gulp! bait. It’s hands-down the best bet for a hookup I have seen,” he said.
This time of year, Percy said anglers can expect some hefty redfish coming over the boat rails.
“We have numerous days of putting 10 to 20 redfish in the 5- to 10-pound class in the boat during a four-hour trip this month,” he said. “During most of our trips, we spend the last two hours of the outgoing tide and the first two hours of the incoming fishing this way. This gives us maximum exposure to the window of opportunity in finding the fish.”
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