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AHQ INSIDER Beaufort (SC) Spring 2020 Fishing Report – Updated March 13

  • by Jay

March 13

Inshore surface water temperatures are already into the lower 60s around Beaufort, and the water is mostly clean but tannic brown. 

While redfish are still schooled up in a winter pattern, Bay Street Outfitters (843-524-5250) reports that there is a lot to suggest that fish are about to break out into spring patterns. There are some early signs that fish are starting to feed more on fiddler crabs, yet they are still in big groups on the flats.

This could change at any time, but right now the best bet is to search for the schools visually. The fishing is still feast-or-famine, and just yesterday they worked a school that had more than 500 fish in it. The schools have gotten a little more skittish and so a subtle presentation is needed. 

Mud minnows are working, and on the fly purple and black Clousers or toads are catching fish. 

Captain Tuck Scott with a nice redfish caught this week
Captain Tuck Scott with a nice redfish caught this week

The trout bite continues to be good, and fish have moved a little shallower.  If you can find a shell bar that creates a smooth and a bumpy side below it then fish will be sitting in 3-4 feet of water right on the seam.  Mud minnows are working well for trout as will grubs or Gulp! baits.

February 27

Inshore surface water temperatures are around 55 degrees, and clarity is overall pretty good. 

Fishing is still a little funny for redfish, and Bay Street Outfitters (843-524-5250) notes that there continue to be extremely few dolphins around. That is giving the fish the confidence to sit in deeper water where they are harder to see, and so as soon as the tide comes in a little they basically disappear. The very low tides when fish are the most exposed are still the best. 

Between changing weather patterns and the fact that fish are in such tight schools the bite is still feast-or-famine, and there are really good days and then tougher ones. When you find fish they are generally pretty willing to eat, whether it be bait or artificials.  However, mud minnows are hard to beat. 

The trout bite continues to be good, although on cooler days they are sitting in 6-7 feet and not feeding as actively.  However, on warmer days they will move into current in 2-4 feet of water where there is water moving across a shell bar point. 

Since trout are also schooled up, in the right areas you can catch a fish on every cast. They are also eating mud minnows well but Gulp! baits will work, too.

February 17

Inshore surface water temperatures are around 57 degrees, and while clarity is high overall in the Harbor River and Broad River, north of the Broad River Bridge it gets fairly tannic (due to recent rainfall).

Fishing conditions have been a little tricky for redfish, and Bay Street Outfitters (843-524-5250) reports that for reasons that are unclear the fish are sitting a little off of the flats. There have not been that many dolphin chasing them in the last week, and so fish are not going up as shallow where they are easy for anglers to spot.  Still it is feast-or-famine, and there are some times when very large schools are visible.

Overall when you can spot them fish are eating well on live mud minnows. And while it has not been consistently easy to find redfish, they are catching fish on each trip.

A nice one caught this week with Captain Tuck Scott
A nice one caught this week with Captain Tuck Scott

Particularly during warming trends the trout bite has been really good, and when you can find the right seams with water moving across a shell bar point the fish can be really loaded up.  The trout are also schooled up and in the right areas you can catch a fish on every cast.  Trout are also eating mud minnows well, but Gulp! baits will also work.

January 20

After hitting the 60s, inshore surface water temperatures in Beaufort have fallen back into the 50s. The water is very clean and clear.

Despite some very unpredictable up-and-down weather in the Beaufort area, Bay Street Outfitters (843-524-5250) reports that redfish are still eating well. They are heavily schooled up right now, and with few mullet around and the trout very agile (owing to warm conditions) they are focusing on avoiding dolphins which are mainly keyed on reds. On the low tide that means getting into very skinny water near oysters that will hopefully provide some measure of protection, and on higher tides hiding behind the grass line. However, on sunny afternoons they will get up in the water column and try to absorb some heat during high tide.

On the fly fish are looking for big, dark patterns that will get down to the fish quickly and trigger a reaction strike, such as mud minnow or shrimp imitations with lead eyes on a 1/0 hook. On conventional tackle Gulp! on a lead-headed jig is working well.

Right now the fish are not moving very far, and so even if they do spook they will usually come back to an area quickly. 

For now the trout bite remains good in 4-6 feet of water, and anglers can either troll inside the creeks or cast grubs on a ¼ ounce jighead.  Look for fish around mud bars and points where they can ambush prey.

A nice red caught on a big fly this week with Captain Tuck Scott
A nice red caught on a big fly this week with Captain Tuck Scott

 

January 10

Inshore surface water temperatures are approximately 54 degrees in Beaufort. The water has cleared up nicely and visibility is good.

After a few slow days the redfish bite has improved in the Beaufort area, and Bay Street Outfitters (843-524-5250) reports that for several days now the fish have been eating very well. They are in tight wintertime schools, and so if you catch one fish the odds are that you will catch more. 

The best fishing has been 2 to 2 ½ hours before low tide, or on the low incoming tide when fish are schooled up on the flats until the water gets into the grass. Fish become harder to follow into the grass unless conditions are extremely clear and calm, although during some very warm periods that can be found high in the water column sunning on higher tides.

The best two baits have been mud minnows and cut mullet, and on the fly large, dark minnow patterns such as purple and black size 2 flies are good. 

Trout can still be found in 3-5 feet of water, and one of the most effective ways to locate them is to troll side creeks at very low speeds with jigheads and grubs.  You can also cast around points that have some current and provide an ambush spot.

A nice redfish caught on the fly with Captain Tuck Scott this week
A nice redfish caught on the fly with Captain Tuck Scott this week

December 24

Inshore surface water temperatures are approximately 56-58 degrees in Beaufort. The water is relatively clear, although the rains of the last couple of days have dirtied it up a bit.

There is not a ton of change in the redfish bite in the Beaufort area, but Bay Street Outfitters (843-524-5250) reports that fish have gotten into even larger, tighter schools. Generally they stay that way through the tide cycle (although they may break out a little into smaller pods on high tide). As a result it has gotten even more important for fishermen to keep moving until you do find the concentrations, as there are unlikely to be scattered fish available.  While cut mullet and shrimp will certainly still work, by this point fish there is no need to use natural baits. 

In addition to low tide sight-fishing, the incoming tide has been good over and around oyster beds, along grass edges, or in pockets between grass points. On sunny days look for fish to be higher in the water column trying to absorb heat so that they can metabolize faster. On the dropping tide look for fish to be around oyster points and drains. 

Trout can still be found in 3-5 feet of water, and one of the most effective ways to locate them is to troll side creeks at very low speeds with jigheads and grubs. If water temperatures get very cold the trout bite will slow down significantly but for now they are feeding well.

A nice redfish caught this week with Captain Tuck Scott
A nice redfish caught this week with Captain Tuck Scott

December 9

Inshore surface water temperatures are approximately 54 or 55 degrees in Beaufort. The water is clear and will stay that way for a while. 

The redfishknow that at some point what little bait remains in the Beaufort area will be gone, and as a result Bay Street Outfitters (843-524-5250) reports that fish are biting very well.  As is typical for this time of year they have gotten into large schools, and generally they stay that way through the tide cycle (although they may break out a little into smaller pods on high tide). As a result fishermen need to keep moving; if you aren’t finding fish keep looking and expect that they will be grouped up when you do find them.

While most of the shrimp have gotten into deep holes there are still some reds chasing them, and so live shrimp will work very well. But you really don’t need it as most any shrimp imitation, such as Vudu Shrimp, will catch fish. 

In addition to low tide sight-fishing, the incoming tide has been good over and around oyster beds, along grass edges, or in pockets between grass points. On sunny days look for fish to be higher in the water column trying to absorb heat so that they can metabolize faster. There are even a few fish still tailing but more often they are cruising the short grass. On the dropping tide look for fish to be around oyster points and drains. 

Troutcan be found in 3-5 feet of water, and one of the most effective ways to locate them is to troll side creeks at very low speeds with jigheads and grubs. On cloudy days there are even still some fish that will eat topwater lures, and anglers are equally likely to catch trout or redfish this way.

A young angler shows off a beauty caught this week with Captain Tuck Scott

November 21

Inshore surface water temperatures are approximately 56 degrees in the morning in Beaufort. There is no algae growth and so the water is clear except for when current creates some mud.

The redfishare happy right now in Beaufort, and Bay Street Outfitters (843-524-5250) reports that the bite is very good since the fish are eating so well in preparation for winter. Mud minnows and shrimp fished under a popping cork have been working very well around shell mounds, points and grass edges. As usual look for redfish to see out slack water near areas where bait will be disoriented.  

On low tide there are good conditions for sight-fishing, and fish will eat a variety of artificial lures. Gulp! baits have been working very well. When the water gets higher sight fishing gets more difficult, but when the water is first in the grass some fish can be found warming in the sun just inside the grass edges. 

The trout bite has been excellent, and Captain Tuck Scott has actually still found a good topwater bite right at daylight and then at dusk. On cloudy days this can actually continue all day.

More traditionally for the late fall fish are in the current around points with moving water and they will take most any grub fished on a ¼ ounce jighead. Look for the cleanest water available.

 

November 1

Inshore surface water temperatures are approximately 75 degrees in the morning in Beaufort. Both bait-sized shrimp and mullet are still abundant. 

This is a transition period for inshore fishing in the Beaufort area, but Captain Tuck Scott with Bay Street Outfitters (843-524-5250) reports that it’s also a very good time to be on the water. Redfishare still tailing well, and even with the cold snap it is unlikely to drop temperatures enough for that bite to really drop off.

There is also a good bite on live shrimp, with the best time the dropping tide starting a couple of hours after high tide. In a sure sign that this is a transition period, at times fished are spread out and at times they are in very tight schools. On one recent trip Tuck’s boat caught thirty redfish in a 10 foot by 3 foot shell area, and if they cast a foot away from the key zone they would not bite. But there are also individual fish and small groups of fish cruising and looking for bait.  

The trout bite continues to be pretty good, with fish being caught off the grass edges in 3-4 feet of water. The best tide has been the incoming tide when water is just starting to touch the grass and then rising. Popping corks with live shrimp have been productive, and fish are also eating Gulp! baits on a ¼ ounce jighead.

There have also been some black drum and sheepshead tailing with the redfish.

 

October 15

Inshore surface water temperatures are around 78-80 in the morning in Beaufort. Both bait-sized shrimp and finger mullet are still abundant, although there needs to be some rain for the shrimp to get to a better eating size.  

There is a lot of good fishing in the Beaufort area, but Captain Tuck Scott with Bay Street Outfitters (843-524-5250) reports that it’s the tailing action for redfish that has been the most incredible. Typically Tuck says you would consider 15 shots at tailing fish a good high tide, but recently they have had some trips where they got upwards of 40 shots at the fish! It’s unclear exactly why the fish are feeding on the grass flats at high tide in such excellent numbers, but in addition to sticking their tails out of the water to feed on fiddler crabs at high tide they are also rolling on the surface at bait over the tall grass. At times you can shut off the big engine on high tide and just sit and listen to figure out where to fish. 

High tide fish are feeding on about anything, but on the fly fish will take any kind of crab pattern and on spinning tackle a Gulp! peeler crab rigged on a weedless jighead is the best bet. 

Outside of high tide fishing for redfish is still pretty good, and fishing cut mullet, live finger mullet/ mud minnow, or live shrimp around oyster beds and ambush points is working well. You can catch fish on a Carolina rig or under a popping cork. 

On low tide fish are starting to school up tighter.  

There have also been bull red drum caught around artificial reefs and bridges, from Fripp Bridge to the Parris Island Reef and rip to the Broad River Bridge. Menhaden are the bait of choice.

There is starting to be a much better troutbite, with some bigger fish being caught as well as larger numbers. At times grubs on a ¼ ounce jighead have actually been out-fishing live shrimp, but both will work. The best action is around moving water off shell points. 

There continue to tripletail around since water temperatures are still warm.

There is also still good flounderfishing around structure close to the ocean that has oysters and a mixture of mud and sand bottom. With finger mullet prolific, a Carolina rig with a short leader has been hard to beat.

 

September 30

Inshore surface water temperatures in the morning are in the mid-80s in Beaufort. Both shrimp and finger mullet are still abundant. 

There continue to be a lot tripletail around, and Captain Tuck Scott with Bay Street Outfitters (843-524-5250) reports that in recent years it seems like they stay later each season. On the other end, it sometimes seems like the spring migrations of certain species take longer to arrive.

Tripletail have eclectic tastes, and they will eat blue crabs, fiddler crabs, and shrimp. When they are lying on the surface they are generally trying to trick minnows into approaching them as they will definitely each fish too. Look for fish simply floating on the top or hanging along the grass lines at high tide, and they will also gravitate to various forms of structure. 

Redfish fishing continues to be good in the Beaufort area, and whenever there is a little water in the grass fishing cut mullet, live mullet or finger shrimp over oyster beds is still working very well.  Target ambush points when the tide is moving in either direction. 

The last set of tailing tides was very strong, and Tuck expects the redfish to continue to eat very well on the next set. On the fly fish will take any kind of crab pattern, and on spinning tackle a Gulp! peeler crab rigged on a weedless jighead is the best bet. 

Very low tide is still a tough time to fish until water temperatures cool.

Some black drum are starting to be mixed in with red drum on the flats. 

Troutfishing is still pretty good, and in moving water fish can be caught 3-4 feet deep on ¼ ounce jigheads rigged with any grub. Live shrimp under a popping cork are also excellent.  

There is still good flounderfishing around structure close to the ocean that has oysters and a mixture of mud and sand bottom. With finger mullet prolific, a Carolina rig with a short leader has been hard to beat. 

 

 

September 19

Inshore surface water temperatures are around 84 in Beaufort. Both shrimp and finger mullet are abundant.

The biggest news this week is that it has been an excellent week for tripletail, and Captain Tuck Scott with Bay Street Outfitters (843-524-5250) reports that they have boated fish that were floating in the grass or along grass lines around high tide. They will take a fly in a crab pattern, or a variety of natural baits and artificials.

Redfish fishing continues to be really good in the Beaufort area, and whenever there is a little water in the grass fishing cut mullet, live mullet or finger shrimp over oyster beds is still working very well.  Target ambush points when the tide is moving in either direction. 

On the next cycle of good tailing tides Tuck also expects the redfish to eat very well. On the fly fish will take any kind of crab pattern, and on spinning tackle a Gulp! peeler crab rigged on a weedless jighead is the best bet. 

Very low tide is still a tough time to fish. 

Troutfishing is still pretty good, and in moving water fish can be caught 3-4 feet deep on ¼ ounce jigheads rigged with any grub. Live shrimp under a popping cork are also excellent.  

There is still good flounderfishing around structure close to the ocean that has oysters and a mixture of mud and sand bottom. With finger mullet prolific, a Carolina rig with a short leader has been hard to beat. 

 

September 13

Inshore surface water temperatures are around 83 in Beaufort. Both shrimp and finger mullet are abundant.

Ever since the storm Captain Tuck Scott with Bay Street Outfitters (843-524-5250) reports that fishing has been really good in the Beaufort area. On high tides tailing redfish action continues to be very strong. On the fly fish will eat any kind of crab pattern, and on spinning tackle a Gulp! peeler crab rigged on a weedless jighead is working well. 

While very low tide is still a tough time to fish, whenever there is a little water in the grass fishing cut mullet, live mullet or finger shrimp over oyster beds has been working very well at ambush points when the tide is moving in either direction. 

Troutfishing has also picked up, and in moving water fish can be caught 3-4 feet deep on ¼ ounce jigheads rigged with any grub. Live shrimp under a popping cork is also excellent.  

It is still worth keeping an eye open for tripletail along the grass lines around high tide.  

There has been some excellent flounderfishing around structure close to the ocean that has oysters and a mixture of mud and sand bottom. With finger mullet prolific, a Carolina rig with a short leader has been hard to beat. 

 

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