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AHQ INSIDER Beaufort (SC) Spring 2021 Fishing Report – Updated April 30

  • by Jay

April 30

Inshore surface water temperatures are in the upper 60s to low 70s in Beaufort. 

Beaufort has had a true spring this year, and the fact that we didn’t go from late winter to summer temperatures overnight means that the migration of bait and sharks into the area has proceeded a little slower than usual. What is in the water is tons of baby shrimp, and

Bay Street Outfitters (843-524-5250) reports that the redfish are gorging on those. As a result the bite is a little finicky, but if you can get live shrimp they will work very well. 

On high tide tailing action has been okay, but as temperatures warm it will get less sporadic. On low tide the fish have broken out of the really big schools, but, again, since they are gorging the bite is not stellar. When you do locate fish they are often a little bit deeper than usual in the saltier water (due to freshwater runoff). 

There has been a decent trout bite in the usual places if you have shrimp, with fish feeding in larger creek mouths where the water is being churned up over shell bars on moving tides in 3-4 feet of water. Jigs are working okay. 

Cobia are just starting to show up in the Broad River and soon the action should be very good.

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

April 1

Inshore surface water temperatures were around 65 degrees yesterday in Beaufort, but weather rolling in today is certain to drop them. Even with the high winds it is still fairly clear, but the water is more tannic than usual. 

The redfish remain in a transition mode in the Beaufort area, but Bay Street Outfitters (843-524-5250) reports that there have been several exciting patterns for catching them. As the schools start to break up cut mullet has generally been the best bait, but in cloudy conditions topwater lures have been working well.  When the sun comes out cut bait on the bottom is better. Captain Tuck Scott discovered this because redfish were hitting his popping cork until the clouds went away, when they started eating the mullet underneath!

As expected fish are also starting to tail, although this brief cold snap will most likely interrupt that pattern until temperatures return and fiddler crabs come back out. 

Generally, Tuck reminds anglers that when the water is tannic it means that the salinity is low and so redfish are likely to be closer to the bottom where the salt is more concentrated. 

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

There has been a decent trout bite in the usual places, with fish feeding in larger creek mouths where the water is being churned up over shell bars on moving tides. Mud minnows under a popping cork have been good as have paddle tail grubs or Gulp! on a ¼ ounce jighead. Smaller live shrimp would probably work but the big shrimp that are usually available in stores seem out of place right now. 

Some nice black drum are also around and will take fresh cut shrimp or cut mullet on the bottom.

February 23

Inshore surface water temperatures are around 51 degrees in Beaufort, and water clarity is surprisingly high right now. 

When the weather has allowed fishing, Bay Street Outfitters (843-524-5250) reports that the action for redfish has been good.  Fish remain extremely schooled up and so if you catch one there are almost certainly more in the area, and overall they are still pretty hungry.  

Most of the fishing is sight fishing right now, and on low tide fish will be moving around on the flats in big schools. On moving tides fish will be in and around shell points and creek mouths – but avoiding the fastest moving water. At high tide they can be spotted in and around covered shell bars. 

If visibility is low but you have an idea where fish are you can also work the banks, and the best time for that is when the water is just in or just out of the grass. Then you can go down the bank with the trolling motor and blind cast jigs or a swim bait. 

Gulp! baits have generally been working really well, and in the clear conditions lighter natural colors are good. If the water is dirty you will want to fish darker baits. At high tide it can be effective to fish the baits under a popping cork. 

While the trout fishing has been slow recently, the good news is that there are no indications that the water has gotten cold enough for a fish kill.

A good fish caught on the fly recently with Captain Tuck Scott
A good fish caught on the fly recently with Captain Tuck Scott

February 5

Inshore surface water temperatures rose a bit then dropped back to around 48 degrees in Beaufort, and water clarity remains high most of the time.

Even though Beaufort redfish are certainly still eating, Bay Street Outfitters (843-524-5250) reports that it has been so windy and unpleasant that getting out there has been difficult. But when you can the fish are still extremely schooled up and overall pretty hungry. If you catch one fish there are almost certainly more in the area – more than at any other time of year.

On low tide fish will be moving around on the flats in big schools, and on moving tides fish will be in and around shell points and creek mouths – but avoiding the fastest moving water. You can also work the grass edges either on the incoming or outgoing. At high tide they will be in and around covered shell bars. A lot of the fishing is sight fishing, but you can also blind cast in likely areas. 

Gulp! baits have been working really well, and in the clear conditions lighter natural colors are good. If the water is dirty you will want to fish darker baits. At high tide it can be effective to fish the baits under a popping cork. 

The trout fishing should also be pretty good, but expect the fish to bite better in warmer parts of the day.  Trout are hanging in moving water in about 3-4 feet looking for whatever bait is around, and in addition to casting grubs on jigheads they will take mud minnows or live shrimp presented under a cork.  Perhaps the most productive way to target them, though, is by trolling the creeks in 3-5 feet of water with grubs on a ¼ ounce jighead.

Last Saturday evening in Beaufort - photo courtesy of Captain Tuck Scott
Last Saturday evening in Beaufort - photo courtesy of Captain Tuck Scott

January 21

Inshore surface water temperatures are down to about 48 degrees in Beaufort, and water clarity is very high.

It’s still good conditions for catching Beaufort redfish, and Bay Street Outfitters (843-524-5250) reports that fish are extremely schooled up and overall pretty hungry. If you catch one fish there are almost certainly more in the area – more than at any other time of year.

On low tide fish will be moving around on the flats in big schools, and on moving tides fish will be in and around shell points and creek mouths – but avoiding the fastest moving water. You can also work the grass edges either on the incoming or outgoing. At high tide they will be in and around covered shell bars. A lot of the fishing is sight fishing, but you can also blind cast in likely areas. 

Gulp! baits have been working really well, and in the clear conditions lighter natural colors are good. If the water is dirty you will want to fish darker baits. At high tide it can be effective to fish the baits under a popping cork.

A pair of nice reds caught in the shallow, clear water with Captain Tuck Scott  
A pair of nice reds caught in the shallow, clear water with Captain Tuck Scott

The trout fishing has also been pretty good, although the action for trout is clearly stronger in the warmer parts of the day.  Trout are hanging in moving water in about 3-4 feet looking for whatever bait is around, and in addition to casting grubs on jigheads they will take mud minnows or live shrimp presented under a cork.  Perhaps the most productive way to target them, though, is by trolling the creeks in 3-5 feet of water with grubs on a ¼ ounce jighead.

January 8

Inshore surface water temperatures are down to about 50 degrees in Beaufort, and water clarity is very high.

2021 is off to a bang in the Beaufort redfish department, and Bay Street Outfitters (843-524-5250) reports that the fishing has been really good. Fish are extremely schooled up, and so if you catch one fish there are almost certainly more in the area – more than at any other time of year.

On low tide fish will be moving around on the flats in big schools, and on moving tides fish will be in and around shell points and creek mouths – but avoiding the fastest moving water. You can also work the grass edges either on the incoming or outgoing. At high tide they will be in and around covered shell bars. A lot of the fishing is sight fishing, but you can also blind cast in likely areas. 

Gulp! baits have been working really well, and in the clear conditions lighter natural colors are good. If the water is dirty you will want to fish darker baits. At high tide it can be effective to fish the baits under a popping cork. 

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

There has also been a good trout bite, and part-time Beaufort resident John Long of East Columbia Sport Shop (803-776-8320) reports that they have found trout stacked up in deep holes surrounded by oyster mounds. They have been way back in the creeks, and he thinks the trout are also trying to avoid the dolphins. These areas may also warm faster than the main water on warm days.

Even though they have offered live bait to the fish they would not touch it, and instead of mud minnows the trout have showed a preference for paddle tail grubs. 

While the Fripp rocks continue not to produce as well as usual, they have found some sheepshead around wood in the creeks. They will take shrimp or fiddler crabs and Mainline Market also sells frozen sand fleas which can work at times.  

December 20

Inshore surface water temperatures are down to 52 or 53 degrees in Beaufort, and water clarity is very high.

The trout fishing is not as hot as it was a couple of weeks ago, but it deserves the lead-off spot in this week’s fishing report because there is still a topwater bite in the morning almost at Christmas. Bay Street Outfitters (843-524-5250) reports that at the first inkling of real sunshine it dies off, but if you are willing to get out there very early and throw Top Dogs or big poppers on a fly rod with a Clouser on a dropper you can still get bites.  But don’t bother if it is dead low first thing. 

The early morning topwater bite can’t last much longer, but you can also catch fish in 3-4 feet of water around points with moving water on both the incoming and dropping tide.  You can also go down the banks and cast or troll jigs, but concentrating on edges with 3-4 feet is still key. If you can get live shrimp they are dynamite under a popping cork. 

In a more typical bite, the redfish are grouped up in very large schools on the mud flats and around shell points at lower stages of the tide.  They are looking for calmer water than the trout.  

If you can get live shrimp they will of course work very well, but Vudu Shrimp have also been really good. On the fly casting a Hall’s Perfect Crab (a realistic, brown shrimp pattern) is good. On darker days black and purple flies that create a good silhouette are best.

If you have to fish at higher stages of the tide then blind casting Vudu shrimp around grass edges and points is the best option. 

Captain Tuck Scott put his son on this beauty this week
Captain Tuck Scott put his son on this beauty this week

November 19

Inshore surface water temperatures are down to the upper 60s in the main rivers around Beaufort. Clarity is low and there is still tons of bait around.

The trout fishing has been nothing short of outstanding around Beaufort, and Bay Street Outfitters (843-524-5250) reports that they are catching all sizes and excellent numbers. While this bite will not last too much longer at first light the action has been good around the edges with big Spooks, Top Dogs and other walking baits.

Live shrimp are working very well under a popping cork all day in moving water over points and at creek mouths when the tide is going either way. Fish are in 3-4 feet of water and paddletail grubs are also working well. 

Right now there are still tons of mullet, shrimp, crabs, needlefish and fiddler crabs around, but as redfish realize that bait is starting to get harder to find the fishing will continue to improve. With mild temperatures there continues to be decent tailing action for redfish, but with lots of wind they have been harder to find. 

The best time to catch redfish has been on the rising tide when they spread out on the mud flats and feed aggressively over shallow oyster beds. They can also be caught on the dropping tide moving down the banks or over structure. Cut mullet has been working better than live shrimp which are running a distant second, and the fish will also take artificial lures such as dark Vudu shrimp.

Black drum can be heard in the grass sucking shrimp off the reeds.

A beautiful fall redfish caught this week with Captain Tuck Scott
A beautiful fall redfish caught this week with Captain Tuck Scott

October 23

Inshore surface water temperatures are still about 74 degrees in the main rivers around Beaufort and shrimp, mullet, mud minnows and more are all abundant.

It’s an atypical fall bite around Beaufort, and Bay Street Outfitters (843-524-5250) reports that even though the fishing is good it does not totally feel like autumn yet.  That is probably a function of temperatures, and with the water still very warm there is nothing to make the fish think that they need to gorge themselves before the various bait sources (including fiddler crabs) become scarce. 

As it has been most of the year tailing action for redfish remains very good, and there is no better time to fish for reds than high tide when they get in the short grass. At other times redfish are in their typical positions, and they are holding in protected areas near oyster beds, points, and creek mouths where they can get some relief from the current. They are also seeking out flats that have oyster beds where there is less water movement. Keep your eyes open for birds preying on shrimp that redfish are scaring up on the shallow flats.  

Finger mullet and shrimp will both work, and Gulp! baits have also been catching fish. 

A nice redfish caught up in the short grass this week with Captain Tuck Scott
A nice redfish caught up in the short grass this week with Captain Tuck Scott

In contrast, the trout don’t mind heavier current and they are holding in some of the swiftest moving areas along grass lines or creek mouths where baitfish and shrimp are disoriented. It’s hard to beat live shrimp under a popping cork, but the trout will also take finger mullet.  The trout fishing has been strong.  

All of a sudden there are large numbers of tripletails around, and when the tide gets higher and the water gets up in the grass look for black shapes sitting still high in the grass. In addition to live bait Gulp! crabs are ideal baits on spinning tackle, and they will also take swimbaits. On the fly crab or baitfish patterns will both work. 

There are plenty of black drum and sheepshead on the flats, and while the black drum will take shrimp it’s hard to get the sheepshead to eat anything. 

September 24

Inshore surface water temperatures have dropped to about 76 in the main rivers around Beaufort and the water is very dirty. Shrimp, mullet and menhaden are all abundant.

Really big high tides have made for an outstanding flood tide bite in Beaufort, and Bay Street Outfitters (843-524-5250) reports that tailing action for redfish has been nothing short of phenomenal recently. The fish are taking little crab patterns on the fly, while on conventional tackle a Gulp! peeler crab has been hard to beat. 

While there are some signs of fall fish do not seem to be grouping up yet, and because they are feeding so much on high tide they can be a little lethargic at lower tides. Still, they are opportunistic and can be seen chasing shrimp around oyster bars, grass lines and points. As always the reds will try to avoid the swiftest current and find an ambush point. 

There are some big reds being caught inshore, like this 31-inch fish (to go with a 29-inch brute) that gave Captain Tuck Scott and his tournament partner Captain John Hawthorne the win in last weekend’s Savannah Fly Invitational. They had the two biggest fish caught on a fly.  

Captain Tuck Scott with their winning 31-inch fish
Captain Tuck Scott with their winning 31-inch fish

The redfish have been fishing so well that they have spent last time chasing trout, but as the temperatures cool the action is getting much better. Fish are in 3-4 feet of water running grass lines and eating shrimp, and live shrimp or mud minnows under a popping cork are the best way to target them. 

While trout and redfish are the headline species, part-time Beaufort resident John Long of East Columbia Sport Shop (803-776-8320) reports that there are excellent numbers of sheepshead and black drum to be caught in the rivers and creeks right now. Both species are around structure including rocks and fallen trees, and you can usually figure out where the fish are feeding by the presence of chewed-up barnacles. Black drum lack the strong teeth of sheepshead so they usually feed on the bottom underneath where the sheeps are gnawing. Fiddler crabs will work for both species and shrimp will catch more drum.

Right now the Fripp rocks seem to be producing mainly smaller fish. 

The flounder seem to be hanging in very shallow water, and John reports that with a finger mullet on a Carolina rig you can catch a limit of keepers most days. Look around structure or other areas where there is a good current flow and ambush points.  All things equal they prefer a sand instead of mud bottom.

At the old steam ship with the iron mast out of the water in 18-20 feet of water off the beach from the Hunting Island Lighthouse big red drum are starting to group up.  They will eat cut and live mullet and menhaden.

 

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