Go deep in SC’s Harbor River creeks for redfish

Harbor River redfish
The small, tributary creeks off the Harbor River are full of slot-sized redfish. (Photo by Brian Cope)

Harbor River offers numerous options for redfish anglers

The Harbor River runs between St. Helena Island and Harbor Island in South Carolina’s Beaufort County. Like many of the Lowcountry’s rivers, its creeks are chock full of redfish and hiding places for them. It’s a river that can keep an angler occupied for an entire day.

Machete Flats Landing offers easy access to Harbor River, no matter the size of your fishing craft. A seafood company is on the smallest section of this river, not far from Machete Flats. The docks here are redfish magnets. Keeper fish all the way up to bulls patrol them and will readily take live bait, cut bait or artificial lures like Gulp! curlytail lures or D.O.A. CAL Shadtails.

For something a little wilder, head to the larger section of the river and duck into the smaller creeks. Small boats are best here, as the shallow creeks offer redfish safe haven from porpoises.

Dalton Reames of Sumter, S.C., fishes these creeks often from his kayak, which allows him to enter them at low tide. He looks for oyster mounds protruding above the water’s surface, casting live mud minnows and shrimp all around the structure.

Redfish flood into these small creeks

“I like to get in these creeks on the incoming tide,” Reames said. “That lets me find the oyster mounds when they’re still exposed. As the tide comes in, the redfish move in. It’s good to get in place early so you don’t disturb them once they start showing up.”

These creeks heat up quickly on summer days, and even though September’s are often just as hot, the water temperatures are beginning a slight transition that the fish sense long before anglers do, so the fish flood into these areas.

With a two-fish limit, Reames cautions anglers to be picky when catching legal reds.

“Redfish in these creeks range from 15 inches to bigger than 30 inches, so if you want to keep a couple for supper, don’t keep the first 15-incher you catch,” he said. “You’ve got a good chance at some in the 20- to 22-inch range. And those have a lot more meat on them than a barely legal fish.”

Reames suggests anglers get out of their boats and onto dry land whenever possible, increasing their casting options. Casting between the oyster mounds and grass lines will produce plenty of bites as the tide begins flowing

JOIN THE CLUB, get unlimited access for $2.99/month

Become the most informed Sportsman you know, with a membership to the Carolina Sportsman Magazine and CarolinaSportsman.com.

Brian Cope
About Brian Cope 1647 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of CarolinaSportsman.com. He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at brianc@sportsmannetwork.com.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply