AHQ INSIDER Hilton Head Island (SC) Summer Fishing Report – Updated August 10
Inshore water temperatures in the Hilton Head area are in the low to mid-80s, and with a ton of rain the water is pretty stained. There is lots of bait shrimp around when the water is out of grass and there also shrimp being caught in deep holes.
It may not be a good news if you are looking for dinner tonight, but for anyone who has an eye on the future Captain Dan “Fishin’ Coach” Utley (843-368-2126) has great news. Since about July 4th the area has been absolutely filled with rat redfish in the 11-14 inch range, and with catches of 30-40 small reds – or more – per trip it has been hard to keep a bait in the water long enough to get a big one. Coach says that this is obviously a great sign for the future, and as early as November plenty of these fish should be in the slot. Numbers like this have not been seen in several years.
Overall, the best pattern for catching redfish has been to fish the main waterways on the outgoing tide after the water falls out of the grass almost down to low water. Some good fish can be caught around shell rakes and areas that drain the grass.
Coach is also continuing to catch fish in some of the bigger creeks in bends where there are downed trees, riprap or other structure and 8-15 feet of water. Live shrimp fished on a slip cork rig have been working well and also picking up some bonus 15-20 inch black drum.
On the trout front there has been so much rain that fishing has been a little spotty. Coach has caught a few fish around high tide near marsh islands where there are oyster beds and glass minnows being chased near the surface. Mud minnows under a rattling cork have been working well.
Numbers of tarpon have been low but that should pick up.
Inshore water temperatures in the Hilton Head area are in the mid-80s and above, and clarity is good.
Considering the summer heat it’s not surprising that one of the best inshore patterns going in the Hilton Head area is a deep bite. Captain Dan “Fishin’ Coach” Utley (843-368-2126) reports that the creek shrimp have gotten big enough to use as bait and his boat has been using a slip cork rig to fish them in the deep bends of creeks, particularly those that have docks or trees. He is getting the bait down about 8-12 feet, and sometimes as deep as 15. This technique is picking up some big redfish, some legal black drum, and some trout. He has found some holes that are fishing best on the outgoing to low tide, and some that are most productive on the incoming.
Along the edges of the grass and oyster bars Coach has been catching a ton of juvenile redfish on the incoming tide. While this is obviously a good sign for the future, he is wary of handling too many of these fish that we want to grow up.
While there have been tons of big schools of mullet around, the tarpon sightings and catches have been sporadic. It’s basically been a report of one here and one there, not huge numbers of them.
Hilton Head inshore water temperatures are in the mid-80s and water clarity is good right now – better than it was this spring.
Inshore fishing has been pretty good around Hilton Head, even though Captain Dan “Fishin’ Coach” Utley (843-368-2126) reports that redfish are still not thick along the grass edges. Instead he is catching them on the dropping tide around large oyster shell rakes. It takes some searching but if you work along the edges you will eventually find areas where the fish are gathered up around the oyster beds, and then a mud minnow or cut mullet under a cork is hard to beat.
The trout fishing has been a little unpredictable, with some tougher days mixed in, but overall they have been catching a lot of fish including numbers of small male fish and some good ones in the 3-pound range. Fish have been in the faster water around creeks mouths and points where there are oysters, and finding glass minnows is a good sign. Trout will also inhabit the same areas as the ladyfish, which also like current. Live shrimp or mud minnows under a rattling cork, Mirrolure Mirrodines and Trout Tricks are all working well. The bigger fish seem to be holding around drop offs near points where there is still some good current.
To go with the usual inshore bites there has been a better-than-expected flounder bite, and around oyster shell rakes on the outgoing tide they are picking up a good number of flatfish. If you can find a spot where water is running out of a drain into the main river channel flounder should be around, and on higher stages of the incoming tide fish can be found around the edges of white shell rakes where the oysters have washed up. In addition to live bait Trout Tricks have been working very well for flounder, and while the fish haven’t been huge some good ones in the 16-18 inch range have been caught.
Tarpon have been sighted but the numbers don’t seem to be huge yet.