Don’t avoid black, tannic water

Speckled trout live in a lot of the tannic, blackwater coastal rivers of the Carolinas; the water is actually clear below the surface.

Water color varies greatly along the Carolinas’ coastal front, and the color of the water at the surface doesn’t always equate to unsavory conditions down below, especially when it has a blackish tint or is the color of Earl Grey tea. Tannic waters can offer exceptional conditions for speckled trout, and they often produce some whopper trout.

Water color and conditions vary between the greenish/blue waters of Wrightsville Beach, N.C., and the brownish/blackish waters around Georgetown, S.C., or the White Oak River at Snead’s Ferry, N.C. Typically, the brown/black water in estuaries are fed by river systems that carry sediment and tannins from upstream to the ocean. The greenish/blue waters lack a river input and have minor freshwater contributions. The darker rivers are full of tannins and can appear murky and unclear, but most of the time, the tannins in the blackwater systems just stain the water, while the visibility can remain quite good underwater.

The tannic systems actually provide both clear conditions and obscurity above that can give anglers an edge.

Jot Owens of Captain Jot’s Fishing Charters in Wrightsville Beach recommends using colors that show up well in tannic water.

“In stained water, I like green- and lime-colored lures. The green stands out well in these waters,” said Owens. “Pearl/white is a good crossover color for dirty water, clear water and stained color. It stands out well about everywhere.”

Stained water systems looking jet black from above can hold big numbers of trout and should never be avoided.

About Jeff Burleson 1311 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.