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AHQ INSIDER Charleston (SC) Winter Fishing Report – Updated February 19

  • by Jay

February 19

Inshore water temperatures in the Charleston area are around 58 degrees, and while clarity is good right now it will dirty soon with all the warm weather.

Even though air temperatures may say otherwise, Captain Rob Bennett of Lowcountry Inshore Charters (843-367-3777) points out that saltwater fishing changes differently than freshwater fishing in the spring – and so it’s still winter in the lowcountry.  Generally saltwater fishing heats up slower than freshwater fishing, and the pattern for redfish on the flats is about the same and a little slow for now.  However, we are coming into a big transition time for the species.  Reds will move off the flats and start to be found in greater numbers around deeper holes and docks, and trout and black drum will be found in some of the same areas.  Live mud minnows and live shrimp will both work very well.

Folly Beach Pier (843-762-9516) reports that the catch is still mostly sharks and skates with the occasional whiting mixed in.  However, sheepshead have been spotted feeding off the pier although nobody has been targeting them.

The best bite is probably still for sheepshead at the nearshore reefs, and while fiddler crabs are the best bait mussels, oysters and clams will also work.  There are lots of black see bass out there, too.  In another month bluefish and Spanish mackerel will start showing up at the reefs where they can be caught trolling Hopkins spoons.

Offshore, the wahoo bite is already starting to get hot. Expect an early dolphin season this year, too – if you wait until May you may miss them.

Last, don’t forget about the American shad run in the Cooper River tailrace and the Rediversion Canal.  It is starting to get hot and with some really nice fish being caught!

January 24

Inshore water temperatures in the Charleston area range from 55-58 degrees, and water clarity is very good.

It’s winter in the Charleston area, and Captain Rob Bennett of Lowcountry Inshore Charters (843-367-3777) reports that one common target this time of year is the shallow water redfish fishery on the flats.  If you have a flat-bottomed boat that draws very little water then on warm, sunny days where low tide falls during the middle part of the day you can get up on the flats and search for schools of redfish.  Calm conditions are a must, and a quiet approach – particularly with someone polling – is important.  Bait fishermen can do well to put out a half-crab, and Zman grubs will also work.  You want to cast in front of the schools and try not to spook the fish.

If you have a calm day but a regular boat then it’s hard to beat the nearshore reef sheepshead fishing (previously described in the Edisto report).  4KI, Capers and the Edisto 40 all hold tons of sheepshead, and fiddler crabs found at local stores are the best bait.  Use a heavy weight to get it down, and then keep the bait about a foot off the bottom. You will catch a lot of black sea bass and so wreck-jumping is sometimes a must.

A nice sheepshead caught on Captain Rob Bennett's boat
A nice sheepshead caught on Captain Rob Bennett’s boat

If you’re looking for something a little different, then for the next couple of months the American shad run should be up your alley.  In the next few weeks a wave of these saltwater fish should move into the Cooper River tailrace as well as the Rediversion Canal.  Casting small chartreuse jigs on 1/8 ounce jigheads is a good bet, and it’s important to work the lure very slowly.  You’ll know you’re in the right place when you see a ton of other boats.

Rob with a very nice shad
Rob with a very nice shad

Trout fishing is very slow.

Folly Beach Pier (843-762-9516) reports that weather has kept anglers off the pier this week, but it is hoped that some whiting and black drum will be around when conditions improve.

December 27

Inshore water temperatures in the Charleston area have fall into the 50s, and water clarity is good.

Now that water temperatures have dropped significantly in the Charleston area spotted seatroutfishing has really slowed down, although Captain Rob Bennett of Lowcountry Inshore Charters (843-367-3777) reports that experienced anglers still have some spots where they can catch them.  However, for the typical weekend angler catching trout has gotten a lot tougher.

Luckily, there are plenty of redfish to be caught around docks, deep pools in small gutter creeks close to the ocean inlets, and around oyster mounds.  Anglers who have shallow draft flats boats can also pursue them on the mud flats.  Fish are in schools of 10 to 50 to 200 fish, and on calm, windless days anglers can sometimes see the schools coming.  They will eat mud minnows as well as shrimp, and you can also anchor half of a crab ahead of the fish.  Reds will also fall prey to artificials such as Zman Silver Streakz or most any grub (curly tail or flattail) behind a jighead

This is a time of year when fishing three hours either side of low tide is far preferable to the higher stages of the tide, in large part because it is easier to locate the fish.  If you have to fish higher tides the best option can be to anchor baits in areas where you know there are schools at low tide since they can’t be sighted.

Family fun this December on Captain Rob Bennett's boat
Family fun this December on Captain Rob Bennett’s boat

While the weather can be iffy for fishing offshore at this time of year, through the winter months larger black sea bass and sheepshead are both stacked up at the artificial reefs.  On nice, calm days anglers can catch a lot of fish at this kind of structure, although to catch sheepshead you may have to really pick through the blackfish.  If you don’t catch sheepshead on one type of structure move to another.  Fiddler crabs are available in stores and in the winter months they are very hard to catch.

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