Lowcountry nearshore action busts out with Spanish mackerel, bluefish

Spanish mackerel
Spanish mackerel arrive in nearshore waters off South Carolina’s Lowcountry this month, and they’re hungry. (Picture by Dan Kibler)

Fast action marks the spring bite for Spanish mackerel and blues

April for Capt. Rob Bennett of Lowcountry Inshore Charters out of Kiawah Island, SC., means trolling around nearshore reefs for Spanish mackerel and bluefish. This time of year, the bite is usually fast, especially during the early morning hours.

“Once the sun gets up and shining bright, the bite slows down quite a bit,” said Bennett (843-367-3777). “But during the first few hours of the day, this bite is as hot as any bite in the Lowcountry.”

Clarkspoons in Nos. 0 and 00, along with diving plugs like MirrOlures and Rebels, will do the trick when trolling in waters that range from 40 to 60 feet deep. Many of these fish run 3 to 7 pounds, providing plenty of fight when hooked.

Both bluefish and Spanish mackerel have sharp teeth, so many anglers rely on a long wire leader to prevent being cut off.

Bennett said that’s a mistake. As aggressive as these fish are, they are also wary of anything that looks unnatural. Spotting long, wire leaders cause many of the fish to give up the chase. Bennett has a simple solution that is highly effective.

Wire leaders are essential

“Most anglers like a 12- to 18-inch wire leader, but that’s going to significantly cut down on the number of bites you get,” he said. “The difference will be immediately noticeable. But if you don’t use any wire, you’ll get broken off a lot. I use an extremely short wire leader. I use 30- to 40-pound wire and make a leader that’s only 3 or 4 inches long. And I tie that to a 6-foot leader of 30-pound fluorocarbon. I get a lot more bites and hookups with this method.”

Another mistake Bennett said anglers make is putting too many rods out, especially first thing in the morning. Even on days when the bite isn’t the greatest, once the fish get fired up, the bite is too strong to deal with more than a couple of rods at a time.

“Sometimes, I’ll have five or six anglers in the boat, and everyone wants their own rod. But it’s best to troll no more than two rods at a time,” Bennett said. “Anglers can take turns, and it works out great. As soon as the fish start biting, it’s a feeding frenzy. If you have more than two rods out, you’re just going to have lines tangled everywhere. You’ll spend more time untangling or re-tying, and you’ll miss out on the action.”

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About Brian Cope 1998 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.

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