AHQ INSIDER Charleston (SC) Spring 2019 Fishing Report – Updated May 23
The newest Charleston fishing report can be found at: http://www.anglersheadquarters.com/ahq-insider-charleston-sc-summer-2019-fishing-report/
Inshore water temperatures in Charleston are around 78 degrees, and with little to no rain the water is very clear.
Water temperatures are warm but not hot, and Captain Rob Bennett (843-367-3777) reports that inshore fishing for a variety of species is wide open. The high outgoing tide has been the best time to fish, and they are catching redfish and flounder working mud minnows a couple of feet under a cork along the grass and oyster beds. The flounder population seems really healthy right now, and they have caught some good ones.
Trout have also been eating mud minnows, and they are stacked up in certain areas where you can catch them on every cast.
Blacktip sharks are also thick behind the shrimp boats.
Folly Beach Pier (843-762-9516) reports that they are catching good-sized black drum, whiting, Spanish mackerel and pompano.
At the nearshore reefs Rob advises that the bluefish are mostly gone, but Spanish and cobia are still there and spadefish should arrive soon.
Inshore water temperatures in Charleston are in the lower 70s.
The bluefish have arrived in the Charleston area, and David Fladd with Eye Strike Fishing reports that that they can be a lot of fun to catch – but can also make it difficult to target other species. They will hit most any topwater lure, jig or bait, and so on any given cast you are most likely to catch a bluefish.
Still, it continues to be a really good spring for both numbers of trout as well as big fish, with lots of fish over 20 inches. To target the bigger fish concentrate on hard, rocky areas such as riprap or other structures. Early and late there has been a good topwater bite, and from the Harbor up the rivers it is not uncommon to catch 6-8 fish on topwaters in a morning. Mullet is starting to show up in good numbers as well as what looks like balls of menhaden deep, and when the bait gets really thick the topwater bite should get even better.
The biggest spawn of the year is coming up in about 10 days on the May full moon, and fish are feeding heavily in preparation for that. After that it will get harder to target the bigger trout as they seem to spread out and at times vanish.
Fishing for redfish has been very strong, and David reports that they are moving into a summer pattern. In the Charleston area that pretty much means fishing for them around docks, shaded areas, and other structure, and they will frequent these same spots for the rest of the summer. Prospecting with a mud minnow on a jighead you can discover where the reds like to be on any given stage of the tide, which is an excellent predictor of where they will be on the same part of the tide cycle going forward.
As anticipated with a late start to the shrimp season which allows the juvenile fish to move into the estuaries, flounder fishing has been good. They are setting up around ambush points and areas that drain large flats, and they will be over sandy as well as hard bottoms. Work likely areas thoroughly with artificials on a jighead or live bait.
Folly Beach Pier (843-762-9516) reports that black drum as well as blues in the 2-3 pound range are being caught, as well as some nice whiting. Small Spanish mackerel are also around.
Inshore fishing is good, but Captain Rob Bennett (843-367-3777) reports that without a doubt the best thing going has been the nearshore reef fishing. They are slaying the bluefish, and there are also a ton of Spanish mackerel around. There are also lots of summer trout to be caught, of which you can only keep one, as well as some skipjack tuna and a few black sea bass. Cobia and king mackerel are also starting to show up. Spoons and mud minnows on the bottom are both sure-fire baits for most reef fish.
Inshore water temperatures in Charleston are in the low 60s.
It’s been a very strange week for inshore fishing in the Charleston area, and David Fladd with Eye Strike Fishing reports that the consensus among inshore fishermen is that fishing has been very tough. This is apparently due to the worm hatch that just happened around the new moon, and species such as redfish and trout gorge on the worms which rise to the surface to the point that they are ready to throw up. That it is also peeler crab season does not help, either.
Even though the consensus is that it’s just not worth going fishing under these conditions, David did manage to catch a 24-inch trout (as well as some small flounder) last weekend. It was apparently one of the very few good fish caught.
By next weekend inshore fish should be getting back into a more normal pattern.
Folly Beach Pier (843-762-9516) reports that fishing has still been slow but they expect an uptick in anglers and baitfish very soon.
Inshore water temperatures in Charleston are around 61 degrees, and water clarity is starting to decrease as temperatures rise.
As the spring progresses, albeit haltingly, inshore fishing around Charleston is getting better. Captain Rob Bennett (843-367-3777) reports that when the wind lays down inshore there are some good redfish being caught. The redfish are moving off the flats and starting to live around docks and oyster beds, with 3-4 feet a good depth to look. An hour or two either side of low tide has been the best time to fish.
Trout have been holding a little deeper in 6-8 feet of water, and they have also been biting the best around low tide. At times they are schooled up very tight. Zman artificials on Trout Eye Jigheads have been working well.
Folly Beach Pier (843-762-9516) reports that water temperatures in the surf are only around 58 degrees and so fishing has yet to pick up. A few small black drum have been the extent of the catch.
Sheepshead are stacked up on the artificial reefs, and very soon bluefish and Spanish mackerel should also be arriving.
Inshore water temperatures in Charleston are in the mid- to upper 50s.
It’s one of the toughest times of the year for inshore saltwater fishing, and Captain Rob Bennett (843-367-3777) reports that between wind and weather getting out has been tough recently. Still, some inshore redfish can be caught around docks and after this cold snap he expects that bite to start to improve.
To the south of Charleston trout reports are almost nonexistent.
Folly Beach Pierc(843-762-9516) reports that even with water temperatures approaching 60 degrees fishing activity has been very light.
While you have to pick your days this time of year, Rob reports that at the Edisto 40, 4KI, and Capers the sheepshead remain stacked up and willing to bite if you have fiddler crabs. Black sea bass can also be caught at the same reefs.
Inshore water temperatures in Charleston are around 52 degrees, but should rise significantly by the end of the week. The Cooper River is very dirty while flats to the south of Charleston are clear.
Dirty water in the Cooper River has made for some tough inshore fishing conditions in his area, but David Fladd with Eye Strike Fishing reports that trout and redfish should still be in the same areas. They should be found around hard cover like concrete, rocks, riprap, or private boat landings. Redfish should still be grouped up pretty shallow and feeding around the tide cycle. There have been some good trout caught in the Wando right now.
To the south of Charleston Captain Rob Bennett (843-367-3777) still reports an almost non-existent trout bite, but he continues to find a decent redfish bite for a couple of hours either side of low tide on the flats. 5-10 pound reds are schooled up, and when they aren’t getting chased by dolphins they are willing to take a bait.
In the creeks the best pattern is fishing mud minnows in 3-6 feet of water around docks at low tide.
Higher stages of the tide remain a tougher nut to crack.
Folly Beach Pier (843-762-9516) reports that water temperatures are about 53 degrees. Fishing activity has been very light but should pick up by the end of the week.
At the Edisto 40, 4KI, and Capers the sheepshead are stacked up and when the wind lays down anglers can whack ’em. If you can’t get fiddler crabs then frozen sand fleas will work well.
Inshore water temperatures in Charleston have fallen into the lower 50s, and the ocean surface temperature is about 53. All the wind has dirtied the water up.
With really unpleasant conditions in the past week David Fladd with Eye Strike Fishing reports that fishing has been limited, but trout and redfish should still be in the same areas. They should be found around hard cover like concrete, rocks, riprap, or private boat landings. Redfish should still be grouped up pretty shallow and feeding around the tide cycle.
To the south of Charleston Captain Rob Bennett (843-367-3777) still reports an almost non-existent trout bite, but he continues to find a decent redfish bite for a couple of hours either side of low tide. This week he has found the best success fishing mud minnows in 3-6 feet of water around docks, and when conditions improve they should be able to catch them on the flats again.
Higher stages of the tide remain a tougher nut to crack.
Folly Beach Pier (843-762-9516) reports that with cold, windy weather the fishing has gotten even worse off the pier, and the catch remains limited to a whiting here and there.
Days when you get offshore have been very limited, but Rob reports that the one day this week that he was able to get offshore he found black sea bass and sheepshead stacked up around the nearshore reefs. He didn’t have to go very far to find the bigger sea bass.
Inshore water temperatures in Charleston have fallen to around 53-55 degrees, and the ocean surface temperature is about 55. Water clarity is generally good.
The topwater trout bite does not seem to have survived the drop in temperatures, but David Fladd with Eye Strike Fishing reports that inshore fishing up the rivers remains strong.
Overall trout and redfish continue to be mixed in the same areas, generally around hard cover like concrete, rocks, riprap, or private boat landings. They are finding groups of 20-30 reds, and generally they are pretty shallow. They are feeding around the tide cycle.
Overall the redfish seem to be a bit more aggressive than the trout right now, and when a redfish bites it is striking very hard. Trout bites almost feel mushy. There seems to be less water flowing into the rivers this week and so fishing closer to the Charleston Harbor/ ocean is not so important.
To the south of Charleston Captain Rob Bennett (843-367-3777) still reports an almost non-existent trout bite, but he continues to find a good redfish bite for a couple of hours either side of low tide. He has seen fish on the mud flats in as little as six inches of water chasing bait, and they can also be caught around docks in 2-3 feet of water. Mud minnows on a popping cork or sections of crab will both work.
Higher stages of the tide have been tougher but fishing around oyster beds has been okay.
Folly Beach Pier (843-762-9516) reports that in the warm weather last week they actually caught a legal flounder off the pier, but since the temperatures dropped action has really tailed off and the only catch has been a few whiting here and there.
The close-in reefs continue to hold more and more keeper-sized black sea bass, and sheepshead are also starting to load up nearshore. Fiddler crabs are hard to get right now but frozen sand fleas available at many bait shops actually seem to be working even better.
Inshore water temperatures in Charleston have continued to rise to around 59 degrees, and there is a lot of freshwater coming into the rivers around Charleston.
It’s hard to believe, but it has gotten so warm inshore around the Charleston area that the first three trout that David Fladd with Eye Strike Fishing caught in 2019 were on topwater lures – in January! While fishing topwaters is not the predominant pattern, it is a sign of just how warm it is and how aggressive and shallow the fish are right now.
Overall trout have been mixed in with redfish, and even though they are definitely in a winter pattern fish around hard cover like concrete, rocks, riprap, or private boat landings they are super aggressive. They are finding groups of 20-30 reds, and generally they are pretty shallow. They are feeding around the tide cycle.
David does note that there is a ton of freshwater coming into the rivers, and so in some of the same places where he was catching redfish a week or two ago he is now picking up largemouth bass! In general fishing closer to the Harbor is likely to be more productive now for saltwater species.
To the south of Charleston Captain Rob Bennett (843-367-3777) reports a very different trout bite, with the fish almost nonexistent this fall. Considering that last year temperatures were in the 40s, and now they are almost 60, Rob is optimistic for a recovery in the population this year.
Rob has still been finding a good redfish bite for a couple of hours either side of low tide. Fish are hanging around docks in 2-3 feet of water where they will take mud minnows on a popping cork or sections of crab. In shallow draft boats you can also get up on the mud flats and look for schools of fish.
Higher stages of the tide have been tougher but fishing around oyster beds has been working.
The close-in reefs continue to hold more and more keeper-sized black sea bass.
Inshore water temperatures in the Charleston area have risen to about 56 degrees, and even with a lot of rain the water is clearing pretty nicely.
It has been rainy off and on, but David Fladd with Eye Strike Fishing reports that overall fishing has been pretty exceptional. A warming trend that raised water temperatures 6-8 degrees has been a strong factor in the improvement, and there are no signs that the good fishing is about to end.
Redfish are definitely in a winter pattern, which means that they are catching fish around hard cover like concrete, rocks, riprap, or private boat landings. Presumably the fish are there because of the presence of bait and/or warmer water. They are finding fish in groups of 20-30 fish, and generally they are pretty shallow. Across the tide cycle they have found fish pretty aggressive and ready to feed.
Captain Rob Bennett (843-367-3777) has also been finding a really good redfish bite in his area to the south of Charleston, where he has been concentrating his efforts for a couple of hours either side of low tide. Fish are hanging around docks in 2-3 feet of water where they will take mud minnows on a popping cork. Higher stages of the tide have been tougher but fishing around oyster beds has been working.
In Rob’s area trout fishing has been tough, but in the deeper rivers David has found them mixed in the same areas as the redfish around hard structure. They have also been more aggressive than usual and very willing to take artificial lures. They are also shallow.
Fishing at the nearshore reefs has slowed down for weakfish, which have gone deeper out to about 70 feet of water. The close-in reefs are eaten up with black sea bass, some of which are starting to be better sizes. Out in about 70 feet there are also triggerfish, nice black sea bass, pink and vermillion snapper.
You could spot a great white shark at the nearshore reefs around Charleston right now.
Inshore temperatures in the Charleston area have dropped into the lower 50s, and with all the rain the water is dirty.
Rainy weather has limited time on the water for most Charleston anglers, but David Fladd with Eye Strike Fishing reports that when you locate them redfish are stacked up right now. Most people are used to thinking about the winter schools mainly being on the flats, and there certainly are large schools of fish on the flats. However, the same phenomenon takes place in deeper water and huge, tight schools of reds can also be found around deep dock pilings, deep rocky ledges, curves of creeks and other structure in 10-15 feet of water. Once you find one fish this time of year you are likely to find more.
Fish are more lethargic in the cold, and so when presenting a bait hopping it only about 3 inches at a time is ideal. When they bite you will often just feel something “weird,” and you should give them a second before striking.
Trout are still biting, but pretty much the only forage around right now is glass minnows and so it is important to “match the hatch” with smaller baits in the 2 ½ to 3 inch range. Zman Slim SwimZ and Zman StreakZ 3.75 are both good options, and you also need to fish them very slowly and almost drag them on the bottom.
Captain Rob Bennett( 843-367-3777) reports that there isn’t as much action in the surf right now, but right off the beaches in 10-15 feet of water spiny dogfish up to about 3 feet can be caught around sand bars. They love squid. The fish have a spine on their dorsal fin and need to be handled with care.
Perhaps the hottest bite can be found at the nearshore reefs when you can get out, and the summer trout fishing has been phenomenal. You can only keep one per person under federal law, but they are big 3-5 pound fish. The trout will hit anything, from mud minnows to cut shrimp to grubs to plain Sabiki rigs, but the key is to let the bait hit the bottom and then reel up about three feet. On the bottom you will catch too many small black sea bass. Bigger ones should be coming closer any time now. If you take fiddler crabs out you can also catch sheepshead, and there are also some bull red drum and black drum at the reefs.
Inshore temperatures in the Charleston area have dropped into the mid- to upper-50s, and the water is seasonally clearing. Shrimp are gone from the creeks.
It’s still fall in Charleston, and David Fladd with Eye Strike Fishing reports that a “bad” day this time of year is still a “good” day most of the year. And a good day right now is a great day!
They are still seeing the effects of the freeze on trout populations in shallower areas off the ICW, while in the Cooper and Wando sizes and numbers are both good. To the South Captain Rob Bennett (843-367-3777) reports that trout have been rare.
With temperatures in transition fish will behave differently on different days, and on sunny, bright days they could be deeper in 10-15 feet. However, as temperatures drop they could also move onto the warm mud flats on sunny days.
A great way to locate trout this time of year is by trolling, and David says that if you knock your motor in and out of gear and allow a lead-headed jig to bump the bottom then you should find fish. They are schooled up so when you find them start casting in that area.
There are a ton of 14-19 inch redfish around, and even though the little ones can almost be a nuisance at times this is a great sign for the future. David reports that they are starting to school up more and more, and so when you locate fish you are likely to find a whole bunch of them. It’s a good time to target fish in the afternoon on the flats – sometimes you will see nervous water, and sometimes you will just catch them blind casting.
Captain Rob reports that to the south his boat is still catching a ton of redfish on mud minnows and artificial lures. They are fishing popping corks on both the outgoing and incoming around the mouths of creeks and over oysters.
There are still a fair number of flounder around, including some good fish up to 17+ inches.
In the Cooper River this is a rare time of year when you can also conceivably catch a trout, redfish, flounder – and a freshwater bass and a striper.
Folly Beach Pier (843-762-9516) reports that the water has really been churned up the last week or so, and the fishing has been slow. A few stingrays, whitingand croakerhave been caught. Surf temperatures are in the low 60s.
When there have been calms seas Captain Rob reports that they have been able to run out to the Edisto 40 on several recent trips. He has exclusively been fishing mud minnows out there and they have caught a ton of weakfish. Bull red drum and black sea bass are also around.
Inshore temperatures in the Charleston area are dropping into the mid-60s, and with all the rain the water is pretty dirty.
It’s pretty typical November inshore fishing around Charleston, and David Fladd with Eye Strike Fishing reports that that means you can pick up 2-5 fish at every spot. Even on slower days this time of year fish are biting, especially the redfish and trout.
Fish are starting to work their way up the creeks, and as the month progresses they will get further and further up. They are following what is left of the bait. Some really big trout have been showing up, particularly in deep areas.
Captain Rob Bennett (843-367-3777) reports that on the south side of Charleston the trout fishing has been pretty slow, but they are catching lots of reds down his way. While the cold seems to have run most of the bait shrimp out, mud minnows will work just as well around docks and oyster beds. Artificial grubs and DOA shrimp are also coming on as temperatures drop.
Out at the artificial reefs there are plenty of summer trout that can be caught on mud minnows, and big red drum in the 20-40 pound range are also out there. Flounder are around and there are still some king mackerel, so it’s definitely worth leaving a live bait rig out.
Inshore temperatures in the Charleston area are in the mid to upper-70s.
As of earlier this week inshore fishing in the Charleston area could not really be described as in fall fishing mode, but with the cold snap the last couple of days it is finally getting there. David Fladd with Eye Strike Fishing reports that while redfish have been biting well they are have been hanging around grass edges, flats and structure in pretty typical summertime behavior patterns. Small reds are prolific, and they have also caught some slot-sized redfish on topwaters.
In the Isle of Palms area David reports that there don’t seem to be a ton of trout around, and it could be that fish in the shallow areas off and around the ICW fared worse than fish in deeper rivers like the Cooper and Wando. However, Captain Rob Bennett of Lowcountry Inshore Charters (843-367-3777) reports that to the south of Charleston they are catching a lot of trout on live shrimp fished under popping corks along the grass. He is having no trouble catching bait shrimp at low tide.
The best bite right now is for bull red drum. David reports that around the jetties they have been catching them in about 15 feet of water on cut mullet, but he reminds anglers that if they fish for reds in more than about 30 feet they need to be prepared to vent the fish. Regardless of where you fish the brood stock needs to be handled very carefully and time out of the water minimized.
Captain Rob also reports that big reds can be caught in the surf on live or cut mullet around a number of area beaches. Folly Beach is reliable.
Folly Beach Pier (843-762-9516) reports that the storm set back the king mackerel bite when it stirred up the water, but the bull red drum, black drum and whiting are still hitting hard off the pier.
Inshore temperatures in the Charleston area are in the lower 80s, and in the surf it’s about 80 degrees even.
Water temperatures have still not cooled off very much, but Captain Rob Bennett of Lowcountry Inshore Charters (843-367-3777) reports that there is a wide open, outstanding inshore bite. They are crushing the redfish with live shrimp fished under popping corks around oyster beds on both the incoming and the outgoing tide. Rob expects the fishing to be wide open until about November 15.
Well up the rivers David Fladd with Eye Strike Fishing reports a similar bite, although he notes that it does not seem to have cooled off enough for fish to have gone into the smaller creeks yet. It’s clear that there is a bumper crop of juvenile redfish all around the Charleston area, and if you head up into brackish water in the Cooper conditions are right to catch striped bass and largemouth, too.
There is tons of bait popping in the rivers and creeks and yesterday they caught a nice 20 inch trout on a topwater. Fishermen are reminded that the SCDNR is strongly encouraging anglers to practice catch and release of all spotted seatrout through the end of September. To read the full news release click here.
It also continues to be a good year for flounder, and on a recent trip they caught several flatfish including an 18-incher on a Texas Eye jighead with Zman soft plastics.
Folly Beach Pier (843-762-9516) reports that with the storm and then the workweek they have not had a lot of lines in the water, but whiting and smaller black drum have been landed.
In the surf the mullet run is underway and so there are plenty of predators including tarpon and sharks around.