Hilton Head’s lagoon gives up trophy redfish

Palmetto Lagoon Charters puts their clients on lots of redfish like this one all summer long. (Picture by Brian Cope)

This small body of water hosts big redfish and other species

One of the most unique inshore fishing spots in the Carolinas is the Palmetto Dunes Lagoon on Hilton Head Island. The 11-mile system winds through neighborhoods and past golf courses. And it’s chock full of redfish, speckled trout, flounder and even tarpon.

As with many places that we’d all love to fish, the biggest obstacle is access. You can only fish here if you own property or are renting a place that is on the lagoon. But an easy solution lies in Palmetto Lagoon Charters (843-301-4634) with Capt. Trent Malphrus and Capt. Stacy Garbett.

Their charter is located on the lagoon, and they’re happy to take anglers all summer long. Only electric-powered boats are allowed in the lagoon, and Palmetto Lagoon Charters has you covered. And with them located on the lagoon, you’re fishing right away.

Malphrus and Garbett like pursuing redfish this time of year, and doing so is quite a bit different than it is for anglers fishing the inshore waters around Hilton Head.

“In the lagoon, redfish will hold tight to cover, which in many cases is partially submerged pine trees and large limbs,” said Malphrus.

It’s common to fish with fairly loose drags for inshore redfish, but Garbett said that won’t do here.

Stout tackle is required

“We fish with strong braided line and as tight a drag as we can get. Unlike fishing inshore where you’ll allow a redfish to pull against the drag to tire itself out, in the lagoon, you’ve got to turn that fish away from structure right away or it will wrap you up and pop you off,” he said.

Live bait is a great choice here, and Garbett said putting that bait under a popping cork is a good choice.

“You cast it up against a submerged tree or structure and get ready,” he said. “Their first instinct is to grab the bait and swim into the structure. And that first second after the fish bites, it’s going to have its way. So if you don’t get that fish turned right after that first second, you’ll be hard pressed to land it.”

Malphrus suggests stout tackle for this type of battle. Spinning reels in 4500 to 6500 sizes are standard, along with 60-pound braided line and 3/0, 3X circle hooks.

In the summer, the earlier you can get on the water, the better chances you’ll have to hook up multiple redfish, which range anywhere from 18 to 45 inches here. Most of the ones these guys land are on the larger size.

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About Brian Cope 2235 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of Carolina Sportsman. 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.

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