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AHQ INSIDER Charleston (SC) 2023 Week 3 Fishing Report – Updated January 20

  • by Jay

 

January 20

Morning surface water temperatures are around 51 degrees inshore around Charleston and clarity is very good. 

It’s been some pretty productive fishing for redfish recently in Charleston, and Captain Rob Bennett (843-367-3777) reports that on a charter Wednesday they caught more than 30 fish. They were a mix of sizes but all over 15 inches, and fishing in a bigger boat he targeted docks. However, they also spotted some fish in skinny water on the flats where they are heavily schooled up. At this time of year you pretty much have to be fishing three hours either side of low water.

When Rob cleaned six of the fish their stomachs were packed with mud minnows, confirming they were using the right bait! A quarter section of blue crab will also work pretty well. 

A special fish caught Wednesday with Captain Rob Bennett
A special fish caught Wednesday with Captain Rob Bennett

Typical for January in Charleston the trout fishing is pretty tough.

The nearshore reefs are covered up in small black sea bass, but if you can get fiddler crabs and figure out how to avoid the sea bass there are abundant sheepshead. Out in 60-90 feet there are giant redfish in the 30-50 pound range. 

January 5

Morning surface water temperatures are around 51 degrees inshore around Charleston and clarity is very good. 

With some more favorable weather there is once again more interest in fishing around Charleston, and Redfin Charters (843-277-5255) reports that the redfish are grouped up in big schools on the flats. They are easy to locate but harder to get to bite, and they don’t need to eat every day right now. They are also extremely skittish, and so you have to make long casts and lead them. 

The reds won’t touch mullet right now, and they are only having success with shrimp caught in deep holes. 

The ticket - photo courtesy of Redfin Charters
The ticket - photo courtesy of Redfin Charters

The trout fishing has been a little more consistent, and the best action has come in deep holes in the creeks. There have also been some trout caught out at the jetties.

When you can get out Captain Rob Bennett (843-367-3777) reports bull red drum and giant black drum in the 20-50 pound rage are on the reefs in 40-50 feet of water.  They will both take half-crabs, squid and shrimp fished on the bottom. There are also lots of black sea bass on the reefs.

Wahoo fishing has also been excellent on the ledge. 

December 22

Morning surface water temperatures are around 53 degrees inshore around Charleston and clarity is pretty good. 

You have to really pick your days, but Captain Rob Bennett (843-367-3777) reports that when conditions allow there is some outstanding fishing in December and January at the artificial reefs. Already bull red drum and giant black drumin the 20-50 pound rage are stacked up at reefs in 40-50 feet of water, and they will both take half-crabs, squid and shrimp fished on the bottom. 

For now Redfin Charters (843-277-5255) reports that there has still been good sheepshead fishing inshore in the rivers and at the jetties on fiddler crabs and dock crabs, but Rob expects that this cold front will push them offshore where they will stay until about March. Live shrimp will also work at the reefs for sheepshead. 

A nice sheepshead caught this week with Redfin Charters
A nice sheepshead caught this week with Redfin Charters

Inshore there’s not much change in the fishing yet, but honestly conditions have made it pretty unpleasant to fish. However, redfish are still super schooled up on the low tide flats, and at middle stages of the tide they are hanging around docks. They will certainly take artificial lures but mud minnows and live shrimp are tough to beat. 

The trout have also been biting pretty well when you can get after them, feeding better at the higher stages of the tide. They also need some current, and the incoming has been fishing the best. Fish are around gutter creeks and points when the water is coming in and across them. 

The easiest way to catch fish is on live shrimp, but paddle tail or twister tail grubs on a chartreuse jighead or a Trout Eye jighead are both working.

December 15

Morning surface water temperatures are around 56 degrees inshore around Charleston and clarity is improving. 

Shrimp have gotten harder to get, but Captain Rob Bennett (843-367-3777) reports that mud minnows have been lights-out for redfish recently. Fish are super schooled up on the low tide flats in very large groups, and at middle stages of the tide they are hanging around docks. With water temperatures still relatively warm they are eating well.

The trout have also been biting well, but they are feeding better at the higher stages of the tide. They also need some current, and the incoming has been fishing the best. Fish are around gutter creeks and points when the water is coming in and across them. 

While you can certainly buy live shrimp and catch fish, paddle tail or twister tail grubs on a chartreuse jighead or a Trout Eye jighead are both working.

For now there are still a lot of sheepshead in the rivers, but they are about to make their way offshore to the nearshore reefs. There are already some big black drum out there. 

A nice sheepshead caught with Redfin Charters
A nice sheepshead caught with Redfin Charters

December 1

Morning surface water temperatures are still about 60 degrees inshore around Charleston and clarity is improving. 

The inshore trout bite is wide open around Charleston, and Captain Rob Bennett (843-367-3777) reports that he is killing the fish around oyster beds, the edges of creeks and rivers, and current breaks. Most anything that looks different will hold fish. The best time has been the high tide when it is just starting to fall.

A lot of the year Rob fishes with live bait, but right now he is slaying them on paddle and twister tail grubs. His motto is that “it ain’t no use if it ain’t chartreuse”, and he likes the electric chicken SlimSwimZ on a chartreuse head or a Trout Eye head. Be sure to reel slowly.

Caught this week with Captain Rob Bennett
Caught this week with Captain Rob Bennett

Live bait will also work, and Redfin Charters (843-277-5255) reports that floating shrimp, mullet or mud minnows has been working well. However, their biggest trout have come out at the jetties fishing hard baits like Mirrolure Mirrodines around the rocks. 

Rob’s boat is also catching a lot of redfish, and for them he is concentrating an hour or two either side of low tide around docks. Mud minnows are working very well.

Redfin Charters reports that on the flats big groups of redfish are also starting to school up. Some days they have lockjaw, while some days they are very cooperative.  

November 18

Morning surface water temperatures are down to around 60 degrees inshore around Charleston and clarity is picking up. 

The inshore bite for trout has been very good the last few days, and Redfin Charters (843-277-5255) reports that they are catching fish on live bait fished 3-4 feet under a slip cork along grass lines and rock walls. Moving tides have been key. Redfish can also be caught on the same pattern in similar areas, but they are generally holding a little tighter to cover such as docks, rocks and pilings. They can also be found in little potholes. While both species are certainly mixed together at times, reds are often a bit shallower – and more willing to bite on slack tides. 

Interestingly, neither species has been touching finger mullet recently and it’s been exclusively a live shrimp bite.

For now you can still find shrimp, but Captain Rob Bennett (843-367-3777) reports that as it gets into more of an artificial lure period he will be looking to electric chicken grubs on a chartreuse jighead. Red heads just don’t work as well for him anymore, and now his motto is “it ain’t no use if it ain’t chartreuse.” 

While the inshore spot run is winding down, there is a very good king mackerel bite in 90 feet of water. The menhaden have gone but when you get the weather right the best pattern is slow trolling cigar minnows and ballyhoo over live bottom. 

And yes, there are still some flounder around! - courtesy of Redfin Charters
And yes, there are still some flounder around! - courtesy of Redfin Charters

November 10

Morning surface water temperatures are still in the mid-60s inshore around Charleston but will drop soon. Bait can still be found in the creeks but days are numbered. 

The bull red drum bite in the surf has finally slowed down, but Captain Rob Bennett (843-367-3777) reports that 15-27 inch fish are still red hot in the creeks. You can catch them around docks, oyster beds and other typical locations, and with the fish very schooled up if you get one there are almost certainly more there. 

However, in Rob’s estimation the most exciting thing going is the trout bite. The fish are in the rivers and creeks along grass lines, and if you can find some sort of current break such an oyster point that is usually a magnet for fish. Clean, moving tides are the best. They will certainly eat live shrimp but grubs on a ¼ ounce jighead are also working very well. 

A beautiful trout caught this week with Redfin Charters  
A beautiful trout caught this week with Redfin Charters

While the bull redfish bite has also been a little slow in the harbor, Redfin Charters (843-277-5255) reports that they are finding some bigger trout at the jetties when you can get out there. They are also finding some trout inshore around deeper drops fishing shrimp 6-8 feet under a cork. 

Redfin Charters also continues to catch some sheepshead around the jetties and hard inshore structure on fiddler crabs, available at Haddrell’s Point. 

Finally, the spot run is still going on in the rivers and around all the bridges. Tiny pieces of cut shrimp work great, but if you can get blood worms they are the best.  

November 3

Morning surface water temperatures are in the mid-60s inshore around Charleston. In the right spots you can still net a ton of shrimp but some other bait like menhaden have already left.

It’s still worth reporting at the top that it’s the peak time for bull red drum on the Charleston area beaches, and Captain Rob Bennett (843-367-3777) reports that they should be around for at least another week to ten days. This is the peak time for catching them in the surf around all the area beaches, and it doesn’t matter if you are fishing Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s, or Folly – the big ones are shallow. They can be caught on most any cut bait but mullet is hard to beat.

That makes sense because Redfin Charters (843-277-5255) reports that the action for bulls is pretty slow in the Charleston Harbor, and so instead they are concentrating on inshore reds with shrimp under a popping cork. The action has been steady, and Rob points out that with very few rat redfish as most of the fish have grown into the slot it’s a pretty amazing time for them. Around the tide cycle they are gorging on the last of the shrimp around oyster bars, docks, and the mouths of creeks. 

The trout fishing is just starting to turn on, and Redfin reports that they have caught a few big trout out at the jetties but Rob predicts that throughout the month of November they will be feeding voraciously on live shrimp, mud minnows and curly tail grubs on any tide and anywhere. It’s a pretty idiot-proof time to catch trout in Charleston.

Redfin Charters has also caught some sheepshead around the jetties and hard inshore structure on fiddler crabs, available at Haddrell’s Point. 

Rob also reminds anglers that this is the peak time for king mackerel in 60-90 feet of water. Menhaden are gone from the beaches but the key is to troll ballyhoo over live bottoms and reefs. 

A nice king caught recently out of Charleston
A nice king caught recently out of Charleston

Finally, keep your eyes open for the spot run in all the rivers and around the bridges.  This is also the peak month. 

October 21

Morning surface water temperatures are around 65 degrees inshore around Charleston. Bait is still prolific in the creeks and you can easily net 50 shrimp on a throw, but the menhaden have moved on.   

After a down week last week the fishing has really picked up around Charleston, but Captain Rob Bennett (843-367-3777) reports that the biggest story is that the bull red drum have showed up off of all the area beaches. It doesn’t matter if you are fishing Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s, or Folly – the big ones are in the surf. They can be caught on most any cut bait but mullet is hard to beat.

The inshore fishing has also really picked up, and Redfin Charters (843-277-5255) reports that both redfish and trout are feeding very well. It’s hard to beat live shrimp fished 2 feet under a popping cork on a fluorocarbon leader, and the high outgoing right up against the grass and around oyster beds and small creek mouths has been very good for redfish as water drains out. However, the fish are feeding so well that they can be caught around the tide cycle, and sometimes dead low tide when the fish are the most concentrated is best. 

A banner day with Redfin Charters
A banner day with Redfin Charters

The trout are a little further off the grass in the same general areas, with high, moving tides the best as long as the water is clean. Current rips are holding fish. 

Rob also reminds anglers that this is the peak time for king mackerel. The key is to troll ballyhoo over live bottoms and reefs, but you can also slow troll live bait. About ten miles offshore is the best range to fish. 

October 13

Morning surface water temperatures have dropped to about 65 degrees inshore around Charleston. Bait is still prolific in the creeks and you can easily net 50 shrimp on a throw. 

It’s been a bit of a funny week around Charleston, and both Redfin Charters (843-277-5255) and Captain Rob Bennett(843-367-3777) report that the fishing is not quite where it has been. Captain Erven Roper with Redfin speculates that the tides have been so big for so long that that could be hurting the bite as the fish have gorged.  

Regardless, Rob reports that redfish numbers are not quite where they have been, and instead of getting 60-100 fish on a trip like they expect in the fall 20-30 fish is more common. They are still doing most of their fishing with live shrimp 2 feet under a popping cork on a fluorocarbon leader, and the high outgoing right up against the grass and around oyster beds and small creek mouths has fished the best.

The trout bite continues to improve, and Rob reports that the trout are a little further off the grass in the same general areas. He is catching them on the same set-up and bait, with higher tides again the most productive. Current rips and clean, moving water are key.

There are still bull red drum in the Charleston Harbor, but Redfin reports that numbers are down and it can be a lot of waiting for just a couple of fish. They also aren’t catching the big 40-inch fish and a 35-incher is a huge one right now. The fish that are being caught are coming around areas in Charleston Harbor like Fort Sumter and around the Ravenel bridge (that runs from downtown to Mount Pleasant). 

Frozen cut menhaden has still been working better than fresh mullet. 

Out at the jetties the sheepshead fishing has been good, and the key is just fishing moving tides and working your way down the rocks looking for fish.  Fiddler crabs are the best bait. 

On a particularly memorable trip this week 30 miles offshore over a live bottom they came across a giant tiger shark that had 6 cobia with it. They doubled up on cobia and also caught grouper. 

A banner day with Redfin Charters
A banner day with Redfin Charters

Rob also reminds anglers that this is the peak time for king mackerel. The key is to troll ballyhoo over live bottoms and reefs, but you can also slow troll live bait. About ten miles offshore is the best range to fish. 

October 6

Morning surface water temperatures are all the way down to about 67 degrees inshore around Charleston. 

Last week we said that there would be some changes this week after Ian came through, but this week Captain Rob Bennett (843-367-3777) reports that the redfish patterns have changed very little – which he also predicted. They are absolutely slaying them right now, and they are still catching almost everything on live shrimp fished underneath a popping cork. That’s not to say you couldn’t do very well with finger mullet, cut mullet, mud minnows or even artificials, but as easy as shrimp are to get right now why bother? 

The best areas are still around oyster beds and creek mouths, and the best time to catch fish has been on the outgoing tide when water is coming out of the feeder creeks. However, Rob has productive spots for all stages of the tide as fish are feeding around the cycle.

Another amazing fall day with Captain Rob Bennett
Another amazing fall day with Captain Rob Bennett

The big change, though, is that the trout have turned on this week. In general both species are mixed together, and they will certainly both eat shrimp, but the main difference is that the redfish are usually a little closer to the grass while the trout are out a little deeper. The trout prefer clean, moving water. Anything that creates a current rip, like an oyster bar point, is a magnet.  

Even though the hot inshore bite has occupied an increasing amount of their time, Redfin Charters (843-277-5255) reports that when there is good weather for getting out in the harbor the bull run is still on! In addition to the jetties and drop-offs in Charleston Harbor like Fort Sumter they are being caught all around the Ravenel bridge (that runs from downtown to Mount Pleasant). Fish are all over the pilings and it’s a bit of luck of the draw where they show up on a particular day, but they are abundant.

Frozen cut menhaden have been working better than fresh mullet. 

Rob reports that the king mackerel have really turned in their annual fall run.  The key is to troll ballyhoo over live bottoms and reefs, but you can also slow troll live bait. About ten miles offshore is the best range to fish. 

 

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