Bait fishing is key to Charleston redfish

Low tide and menhaden are producing results

Capt. Legre Leland of Head Shaker Charters in Charleston isn’t averse to using artificial baits when he targets big redfish in the waters around his home.

But he also realizes that the dead of the summer probably isn’t the best time to tie on a quarter-ounce jig and thread on some kind of wiggly piece of soft plastic.

“This is the time of the year that you fish bait,” said Leland (843-810-0495). “As you get into the end of September and October, when they’re really ganged up, that’s when I start fishing artificials. But this past Wednesday, the last six fish we caught were all on dead bait – menhaden.”

Leland has been averaging between a half-dozen and a dozen redfish per day over the past couple of weeks, and more often than not, he’s been running into the 8- to 10-pound fish that are well above South Carolina’s 15- to 23-inch slot limit.

“The redfish are up on the flats, scattered,” he said. “They won’t start schooling up real good until mid-August or September. Right now, you’re finding six or seven fish together. Most of the we’ve been catching, the double-digit ones, have been on cut bait, menhaden. I’ve been pushing up on points I know they use. We’ve been catching them in a foot of water on low tide.”

Leland said he prefers fishing the entire falling tide cycle, started at dead high and following the water down – as much as five feet from high to low in a single cycle. That’s enough water falling to pull every redfish out of the marsh grass, and when they leave that protection, he wants them to run into one of his baits.

The rig on which he fishes cut bait for redfish is an unusual one. He ties his hook to a 30-inch leader of braided line, ties an Albright knot, then ties the line from his reel to the knot. He crimps on three split shot just above the knot to keep his bait close to the bottom.

It accomplishes the same thing as a Carolina rig, but if he breaks a fish off or has to retie for any reason, it’s a lot quicker and simpler.

About Dan Kibler 887 Articles
Dan Kibler is the former managing editor of Carolina Sportsman Magazine. If every fish were a redfish and every big-game animal a wild turkey, he wouldn’t ever complain. His writing and photography skills have earned him numerous awards throughout his career.

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