AHQ INSIDER Hilton Head Island (SC) Summer 2018 Fishing Report – Updated September 21 Reviewed by Momizat on . -- September 21 Inshore surface water temperatures around Hilton Head have not dropped much and are holding about 86 degrees, while the water is clearing (altho -- September 21 Inshore surface water temperatures around Hilton Head have not dropped much and are holding about 86 degrees, while the water is clearing (altho Rating: 0
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AHQ INSIDER Hilton Head Island (SC) Summer 2018 Fishing Report – Updated September 21

September 21

Inshore surface water temperatures around Hilton Head have not dropped much and are holding about 86 degrees, while the water is clearing (although this could be the result of weaker tides.)   Shrimp are starting to move their way down through the sounds and into the ocean.

With water temperatures still “summery” it’s no surprise that Captain Kai Williams with Awesome Adventures Charters (843-816-7475) reports that redfish are still in a summer pattern.  Inshore they are still catching fish on live or cut finger mullet fished under a cork alongside grass and white shell oyster rakes.  When the water is really high they are just throwing cut bait in the grass and waiting.

You can certainly catch fish tailing, especially if high tides falls later in the evening.  The water is very hot on the flats and if high tide is in the middle of the day temperatures can reach the 90s.

It will probably take either a change of food source or a significant temperature decrease to change the redfish pattern.

There is some improvement in the trout fishing, which appears to be the results of shrimp becoming more accessible.  Trout are still eating some finger mullet, but they are moving to big shrimp.  The deep hole guys are catching plenty.

It looks like in the Hilton Head area the trout population may not have been hit as hard as previously suspected, perhaps because of the deep water, but it will be October or November before they can get an accurate assessment.  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.

Tarpon can still be found in both the sounds and the rivers because the bait is there, including around areas like the Broad River Bridge.

A big tarpon pulled in with Captain Kai Williams

A big tarpon pulled in with Captain Kai Williams

There are plenty of big jacks in the Calibogue and Port Royal Sounds, and bull red drum are moving closer in.  They can be caught on the ocean sides of sounds are bars and rips on live or cut bait.

There are still lots of sharks, both large and small, in the area.

At the nearshore reefs, as well as inshore at rips in Calibogue and Port Royal Sounds when there is clean water, Spanish mackerel can also still be caught.  Captain Kai’s boat is anchoring up, chumming, and fishing live menhaden with one on a cork and one free-lined.  Once fish show their preference they switch everything to that.

August 24

Inshore surface water temperatures around Hilton Head are about 88 degrees.

There’s a lot of saltwater action to be found around Hilton Head, and Captain Kai Williams with Awesome Adventures Charters (843-816-7475) reports that redfish continue to be caught on all stages of the tide.  They are catching fish on live finger mullet, or cut bait if they don’t have live, fished under a cork alongside grass and white shell oyster rakes.  When the water is really high they are just throwing cut bait in the grass and waiting.

You can certainly catch fish tailing, especially if high tides falls later in the evening.  The water is very hot on the flats and if high tide is in the middle of the day temperatures can reach the mid-90s.

Captain Kai has not caught a lot of trout recently, partly because of extreme high tides that seem to have put the bite off.  Free-lining live finger mullet is still producing some bigger fish.  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.

Tarpon can again be found in both the sounds and the rivers because the bait is there.

Around inshore structure a mixed bag of small cobia, small jacks and bluefish can be caught on live and cut menhaden.  The fish are around bridges, rubble, and other structure up the rivers.

There are still lots of sharks, both large and small, in the area.

At the nearshore reefs, as well as inshore at rips in Calibogue and Port Royal Sounds when there is clean water, Spanish mackerel can be caught.  Captain Kai’s boat is anchoring up, chumming, and fishing live menhaden with one on a cork and one free-lined.  Once fish show their preference they switch everything to that.

A beautiful Spanish mackerel caught this week with Captain Kai

A beautiful Spanish mackerel caught this week with Captain Kai

Jacks fizzled out a week or so ago, but they expect to see them again soon with bait coming into the sounds.  Sight casting on the approaching full moon should be good.

August 10

Inshore surface water temperatures around Hilton Head are in the mid- to upper-80s.

There’s a good late summer bite around Hilton Head, and Captain Kai Williams with Awesome Adventures Charters (843-816-7475) reports that redfish are biting pretty well on both cut bait and live finger mullet.  He is catching them on all stages of the tide along grass edges and oyster bars, and early in the morning there has been some exciting topwater action.

They are also picking up a few trout early on topwater lures, but it’s only been one every couple of days.  It looks like the population is pretty down in Hilton Head but they will get some better indications this fall when the fish traditionally gorge.

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.

There was some pretty good tarpon fishing earlier in the summer, but right now the bite has cooled off inshore around Hilton Head. Captain Kai hopes that another good wave of tarpon will move through soon, because to the north and south he is hearing better reports.

There are definitely a lot of sharks around, with small sharpnose sharks providing a hassle but bigger species creating a lot of action. Just yesterday his boat caught a big 7-foot nurse shark.

Jack crevalle never stop swimming, and right now there are a bunch of them moving around in Calibogue Sound, Port Royal Sound and in the open ocean.  These hard fighters are providing plenty of fight for anglers with sufficiently stout tackle.

A strong Hilton Head jack caught with Captain Kai Williams

A strong Hilton Head jack caught on the fly with Captain Kai Williams

There has also been some good fishing for big Spanish mackerel, and on flies, chuggers and jigs, and live menhaden they have been eating well.

July 13

Inshore surface water temperatures around Hilton Head are in the upper 80s, and clarity is below average for now after some bigger tides.  It should clear soon.

All things considered the redfish bite has been pretty good in the Hilton Head area, and Captain Dan “Fishin’ Coach” Utley (843-368-2126) reports that this week his boat caught some nice reds on the flats along the main river edge around dead oyster shell rakes. On the half tide they have had luck floating cut bait and mud minnows along the edges of shells.

A nice redfish caught this week on Coach's boat

A nice redfish caught this week on Coach’s boat

Small redfish in the 12 inch range have also showed up in all the little creeks around oyster beds, trees and docks.  The best bait is dead shrimp, and they have largely been a by-catch while trying to catch black drum – which are kind of scarce.

Coach has only caught a few larger trout recently, and he is not thrilled that there have not been many fish under 13 inches around.   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.

There have also been some tarpon jumped at the mouth of the Port Royal Sound.

June 19

Inshore surface water temperatures around Hilton Head are in the low to mid-80s, and clarity is pretty normal for this time of year. There are brown shrimp in the creeks big enough for bait but you have to throw the net a lot to catch enough to use, while the more prolific white shrimp are not yet bait-sized.

Redfish are in a summer pattern in the Hilton Head area, and Captain Dan “Fishin’ Coach” Utley (843-368-2126) reports that the bite is pretty tide dependent.  Last week with the very big high tides the fishing was not as good, whereas the week before it was better fishing the outgoing around shell bars and points when fish were out of the grass.

This week cooler morning temperatures have intersected with low water and then the incoming, and the fishing has been okay. They have caught some big reds around deep bends in the creeks that have trees, and they have also started to pick up a lot of 10-11 inch fish (which usually doesn’t happened until the after the 4th).

 

A nice redfish caught this week with Coach

A nice redfish caught this week with Coach

There has been a decent bite for numbers of black drum fishing with small pieces of cut shrimp, but most of the fish have been 11-12 inches and getting keeper-sized fish has been tougher.

On the incoming tide Coach’s boat has caught the occasional trout on mud minnows fished under a floating cork, and the same is true of flounder on the same bait.  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.

The cobra bite (see the Beaufort report) has been better inshore than out at the Betsy Ross, and some early tarpon have been jumped at the mouths of the sounds.  Menhaden schools have started to arrive on the flats in front of Pinckney and in the Chechessee.  Coach has not seen ladyfish yet.

May 10

Inshore surface water temperatures in the Hilton Head area are in the mid-70s and clarity is good.

As the water has warmed up the fishing has gotten better, and Captain Dan “Fishin’ Coach” Utley (843-368-2126) reports that they are catching some nice redfish.  Fish are not in a summer pattern yet, and they are still catching them mainly back in the small creeks.  You pretty much have to fish at mid-tide – on high tide they are very hard to locate, and at low tide their metabolisms are so fast that they are very skittish.

The best places to fish have been big points with oyster bars, on the outside edge before the water gets in the grass.  Floating live minnows under a rattling cork has worked best.

A nice mid-tide redfish caught recently with Coach

A nice mid-tide redfish caught recently with Coach

In the same places where the reds are being caught flounder fishing has been very good on the incoming tide, particularly in moving water on the edge of the marsh very shallow.  Fish are being caught on mud minnows under a rattling cork, and there are lots of nice 16-18 inch fish around.

In the backs of deeper creeks black drum are being caught around trees and other structure in about 10 feet of water at deep bends. The best times to fish have been the end of the outgoing and beginning of the incoming at the bottom of the tide cycle. Cut shrimp on the bottom has been enticing lots of 2-3 pound fish.

Coach reports that there have been some cobia spotted in the Broad River, although at the next full moon he expects it to get better.  Inshore cobia are strictly catch-and-release and should be handled very carefully.  Anglers should also keep their eyes open for tripletail around floating debris, weed lines, or crab floats in the water – which can be caught and eat very well.

There are still no fresh trout reports.  Fishermen are reminded that, as a precautionary measure, 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.

April 27

Inshore surface water temperatures in the Hilton Head area are up to about 65 degrees, and after the recent rain visibility declined.

Fishing has improved, but even though water temperatures are where things are supposed to take off the bite is still not on fire.  Captain Dan “Fishin’ Coach” Utley (843-368-2126) reports that cool, rainy weather has probably hurt the redfish bite, but nonetheless they have had some pretty good days.  Reds and black drum have both been caught in depressions in the backs where there is 10-15 feet of water at low tide and docks or downed trees.  The best tide has been lower stages of the tide but not dead low.

There is not a lot going on in the main river yet.

Another nice redfish caught this week with Coach

Another nice redfish caught this week with Coach

There are no fresh trout reports despite Coach fishing places where he has caught them in the past.  Fishermen are reminded that, as a precautionary measure, the SCDNR is asking anglers to practice catch and release of all spotted seatrout through the end of September.  To read the full news release click here.

April 12

Inshore surface water temperatures in the Hilton Head area are up to about 62 degrees.

There’s not much change to report with Hilton Head area fishing, and Captain Dan “Fishin’ Coach” Utley (843-368-2126) reports that low tide redfish are still skittish while on higher tides they can be harder to locate but easier to get to bite.

At the nearshore reefs and wrecks the action for sheepshead and big black drum has been really good in the same spots where they target redfish in the fall.

Trout fishing has been very slow at best. Fishermen are reminded that, as a precautionary measure, the SCDNR is asking anglers to practice catch and release of all spotted seatrout through the end of September.  To read the full news release click here.

March 30

Inshore surface water temperatures in the Hilton Head area are about 59 or 60 degrees, and clarity is decreasing as it warms.

It’s no big surprise that Hilton Head redfish are still pretty skittish, and Captain Dan “Fishin’ Coach” Utley (843-368-2126) reports that on low tide they can be really hard to target.  The schools aren’t as big as they were earlier in the year, but the fish are still fairly schooled up.  The best time to target reds has been on higher stages of the tide, although even on high water you only get a few shots at them.  Both Gulp! and mud minnows free-lined in the grass have been working.

Earlier in the season the fish that were showing up were mainly oversized, but now they are seeing some schools of fish on the smaller end of the slot, too.

A nice March redfish caught with Coach

A nice March redfish caught with Coach

Coach reports that sheepshead fishing has been really good nearshore when you can get out there.

Anglers are reminded that, as a precautionary measure, the SCDNR is asking anglers to practice catch and release of all spotted seatrout through the end of September.  To read the full news release click here.

March 15

Inshore surface water temperatures in the Hilton Head area have dropped to about 56 degrees, and even in windy conditions the water remains surprisingly clear.

Hilton Head area redfish are in a fairly typical spring pattern, but clearer than normal water is both a blessing and a curse.  Captain Dan “Fishin’ Coach” Utley (843-368-2126) reports that it is fairly easy to spot fish, but they can be very skittish – particularly on low tide.  The sight fishing has been better on mid-tides and above, and on the half-tide Coach has been able to sight fish for reds by spotting the school and then casting ahead of them.  Ease up quietly with your trolling motor when you fish this way.

The best action, though, has come fishing on the high rising tide in the grass with mud minnows under a float or casting Gulp! shrimp and dead sticking them in openings in the grass.  Mud minnows have been working a bit better than artificials, and fishing in areas where Coach has caught them in the past with a good mix of oysters and grass has been the best bet.

A nice spring red caught this week on Coach's boat

A nice spring red caught this week on Coach’s boat

On the trout front, Coach has not been targeting them but a friend caught a bunch of fish fishing soft plastics in a deep bend with 15-20 feet of water and some trees.  They were far away from the ocean.   Anglers are reminded that, as a precautionary measure, the SCDNR is asking anglers to practice catch and release of all spotted seatrout through the end of September.  To read the full news release click here.

March 1

Inshore water temperatures in the Hilton Head area remain about 62, and the water is very clear.

Water clarity has improved, and as a result it’s gotten easier to locate the Hilton Head area redfish again – particularly on low tide.  However, Captain Dan “Fishin’ Coach” Utley (843-368-2126) reports that they are getting into that transition period where they go from their winter patterns into “summer” patterns, and so they won’t be in the tight winter schools for very much longer.

For now you can still find some schools, but Coach reports that fish are pretty skittish when you find them.  For the next month or two expect a transition period where fishing isn’t easy but with some searching they can be caught.

A couple of nice reds caught from Coach's boat

A couple of nice reds caught from Coach’s boat

February 23

Inshore water temperatures in the Hilton Head area are up to about 62 degree on the flats, and the fish are basically doing what they should be doing in mid- to late March.  Visibility has decreased.

For a little while there redfish fishing was really good on the flats, but now Captain Dan “Fishin’ Coach” Utley (843-368-2126) reports that it is has gone “from the penthouse to the outhouse.”  With decreased clarity is has been hard to locate fish, particularly on higher stages of the tide, and reds seem to be breaking out of their winter schools and scattering out.  Hopefully fish will be easier to locate soon.

Coach has heard of a few trout caught, but he has no-first hand information. Anglers are reminded that, as a precautionary measure, the SCDNR is asking anglers to practice catch and release of all spotted seatrout through the end of September.  To read the full news release click here.

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