Spring spot-tails fill Georgetown’s estuaries

Spot-tail bass, aka redfish, hit the spring hungry after a winter in the ocean, and they move into Georgetown’s estuaries in April with a big appetite.
Spot-tail bass, aka redfish, hit the spring hungry after a winter in the ocean, and they move into Georgetown’s estuaries in April with a big appetite.

Spring starts a feeding frenzy

Spring kicks off along this month for inshore anglers in the Georgetown area, with spot-tail bass fired up and feeding at will.

Matt Bellamy of Captain Matt’s Saltwater Charters is especially excited about this spring’s fishing season in his area because of Georgetown’s fishing history.

“April and May are stellar months for catching spot-tails. Out of five trips between the middle of April last year and Mother’s Day, we landed over 400 fish,” said Bellamy (843-568-8203). “They are in schools moving in from the ocean and are hungry for about anything.”

Spot-tail bass, aka redfish, spend the winter in two places: the ocean or holes in the backs of creeks. As the water begins to warm, baitfish become more plentiful. This can create a feeding frenzy in the estuaries. Since the majority of baitfish are moving in, areas close to the ocean become feeding zones.

Bellamy lives in Pawley’s Island. But he will trailer to the Georgetown region to fish North Inlet, Mother Norton, Santee Delta, or even as far south as Cape Romain.

Follow the bait and you’ll find the redfish

“The bait is moving in from the ocean, and the redfish are hungry ready to eat about anything,” he said. “I like to set up on oyster bars, creek mouths or other places that create rips in water around 3 feet deep on the incoming tide. The rising water seems to bring the bait in, and the fish just take advantage of the situation.”

Later, spot-tails will spread out as the bait filters into the estuaries. But until then, anglers can catch them in places near the confluence with the ocean off the main rivers and sounds.

Bellamy’s favorite bait is a mud minnow fished under a float.

“I start off using mud minnows until they get fired up. And then we switch to artificial lures most of the time,” he said.

Bellamy uses a variety of soft plastics that resemble small baitfish. He will also use crab imitations during the spring molting season. Blue crabs molt every month, with the largest molting period in April and May. Spot-tail bass take full advantage of the plethora of soft crabs available.

Soft crabs can be purchased at many seafood markets during the spring. Anglers can get three to four baits out of each crab. And there isn’t a spot-tail that will not eat a soft crab.

Jeff Burleson
About Jeff Burleson 1363 Articles
Jeff Burleson is a native of Lumberton, N.C., who lives in Myrtle Beach, S.C. He graduated from N.C. State University with a degree in fisheries and wildlife sciences and is a certified biologist and professional forester for Southern Palmetto Environmental Consulting.