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AHQ INSIDER Edisto Island (SC) Fall Fishing Report – Updated November 28

  • by Jay

November 28

Captain Ron Davis, Jr. (843-513-0143) reports that water temperatures have dropped to around 60 degrees.  With dry conditions and no king tides clarity is very good for Edisto at between 1 ½ and 2 ½ feet.  Overall inshore fishing is at its annual peak.

Redfish are feeding very well in the Edisto area, and on the flats live shrimp and cut mullet are both working very well.  In the creeks cut shrimp fished on a Carolina rig are also an option, but on the flats there are too many pinfish for them to be effective.  Redfish are in their traditional spots (around oyster bars on the flats, low tide structure in the creeks) and they are hungry.

A pretty redfish caught recently on Captain Ron Davis, Jr.'s boat
A pretty redfish caught recently on Captain Ron Davis, Jr.’s boat

Overall troutare leaving the main river and heading up the creeks.  They will be found in deep holes for about three hours either side of low tide (the bottom six hours of the tide cycle).  There are still plenty of smaller fish on the river flats – and they are in bigger schools than the creek fish – but the bigger fish have already left.  In the creeks it is important to cover a lot of water, and trolling with 1/8 to ¼ ounce jigheads and Trout Tricks, paddle tail or curly tail grubs has been working.  Once fish are located anglers can slow down and work them over with the same bait.  On the flats live shrimp under a cork are hard to beat, but DOA shrimp presented the same way will also work.

There are tons of sheepsheadaround deep trees and deeper docks when you can find at least 8 feet of water.  Fiddler crabs are harder to get right now but this is the time of year when it is possible to use small, dime-sized pieces of oyster, clams and even barnacles and muscles because of the absence of bait-stealers.

Whitingare feeding very well just past the surf, and plenty of 10-12 inch fish are out there.  Fish are at the mouths of major creeks and at the sandbars just off the beaches.

The bull red drumfishing has slowed down, after a below-average fall, at areas like the Edisto Rocks.  Fish are starting to move deeper and they are grouping up in spawning pods in 30-60 feet of water.  Schools of birds and the presence of dolphins can provide a clue about where these offshore reds can be found, and at times they will even feed on bait on the surface.

On days when anglers can get offshore bottom fishingis on fire as with cooler water temperatures the fish have moved in.  Plenty of keeper-sized black sea bass can be found in 40-60 feet of water as well as 60-90 feet, and lots of vermillion snapper, triggerfish, porgy and grouper are around.  Both natural hard bottoms and artificial reefs are productive.

November 2

Captain Ron Davis, Jr. (843-513-0143) reports that the water is finally clearing in both rivers, but water temperatures remain very high for this time of year at above 70.  At times recently he has seen 72 and even 74, which should make for a prolonged fishing season.   There is lots of bait-sized shrimp in the creeks, while the majority of the bigger shrimp are out in the ocean.  You can get some good prices on large/ jumbo shrimp from the trawlers.

The redfish bite remains good when you can find fish, with fish feeding on the flats at mid-tides on Gulp! baits fished on a flutter hook.  In the creeks fishing cut mullet around structure at lower stages of the tide has been effective.

A big 18-pound drum caught INSHORE on Captain Ron Davis' boat under a popping cork!
A big 18-pound drum caught INSHORE on Captain Ron Davis’ boat under a popping cork!

There are still plenty of black drum around, although particularly in the creeks there are lots of juvenile 10-12 inch fish.  The bigger 16-20 inch fish are more likely to be found on the flats.

Troutfishing is not as good as it was a couple of weeks ago, because after a cold front dropped temperatures from 76 to about 69 degrees the water started to warm up again.  In the fall each cold front is generally followed by a flurry of feeding activity as fish get ready for winter, while warming trends reduce feeding activity and spread the fish out.  After Friday temperatures should drop again and fish will group back up, but for now the bite still rates somewhere between good and very good.

Fishing for sheepshead remains excellent, with the fish feeding around most any dock in 5-15 feet of water at low tide.  Ron says the bite is “on fire.”

Surf fishing has been good since the hurricane, which stirred up the surf.  Late in the evening, particularly when it coincides with a high incoming tide, fishing for trout and redfish is good at the mouths of smaller inlets.  A lot of new sandbars and current breaks were created by the storm.

Nearshore there haven’t been a ton of reports, but the bull red drum bite should be about at its peak.  Lots of shrimp have been pushed offshore and so at areas like The Rocks there is plenty for the drum to feed on.  This bite should keep up until water temperatures drop.

October 20

Captain Ron Davis, Jr. (843-513-0143) reports that water temperatures in the Edisto Island area are in the mid-70s, and water conditions are still very brown and tannic.  Bait (at least shrimp) has almost completely left the creeks, which is making for a great season for the shrimpers offshore.

With the recent king tides fishing for tailing redfish has been very strong, and because of the absence of bait on the flats and in the creeks when you can locate fish they want to eat.  Besides fishing for tailing reds, on the mid-tide – either incoming or outgoing – redfish are eating Gulp! baits fished on flutter hooks on the flats.  In the creeks cut mullet fished on the bottom around deeper docks and structure at low tide have been working.  Catching fish is easy but the trick is locating them.  Some black drum are mixed in with the redfish on the flats but you need live shrimp to target them.

Ron reports that the trout bite has been excellent, and today his boat could have caught 150 fish if they had continued fishing.  Anywhere that you can find clear – even if it’s clearish brown – water with a foot or more of visibility there should be fish, with main river shell banks as well the mouths of creeks being good.  There are also fish up creeks.  The incoming and first of the outgoing tide has been good, but a strong outgoing tide is the worst time to fish.  Tides are still much higher than normal because of all the water coming in from the Edisto River.  DOA Shrimp fished 3-5 feet under a popping cork are hard to beat.

Sheepshead fishing has been excellent around main river and creek docks at low tide.  Ron says that docks closer to the main river are better and you want a dock with 6-12 feet of water at low tide.  Fiddler crabs are the best bait.

No news on bull reds or surf fishing, and Ron reports that the beach around the State Park has been badly eroded by the storm.

A nice haul of trout caught today on Captain Ron Davis, Jr.'s boat
A nice haul of trout caught today on Captain Ron Davis, Jr.’s boat

October 13

Captain Ron Davis, Jr. (843-513-0143) reports that Edisto Island is regaining power slowly, and authorities are allowing people to return to the island but not the beaches.  The water is very tannic brown and will be for at least another week.

September 30

Last week Captain Ron Davis, Jr. (843-513-0143) reported that with water temperatures in the 80-82 degree range one strong cold front would probably mark the end of the tarponseason.  While that remains true, water temperatures have actually moved in the opposite direction with the heat and minimal rain and are now up to 82-83 degrees.  Significant changes in the overall bite for a number of species have not taken place, and fish remain in more or less a late summer pattern.  While the fishing is better than in the mid-summer because of daylight patterns, it’s not yet a fall bite.   Unusual for this late in the season there are still tons of tarpon around, and they can be seen around the beaches and sandbars busting mullet.

For several hours both sides of low tide redfish can be caught in the creeks and on the flats in the same patterns, and trout continue to bite well during the upper stages of the tide around main river white shell banks.  Most of the trout being caught are on the smaller side but once temperatures cool the bigger fish should start showing up.  Similarly, sheepshead fishing should improve once there is a bump of cool weather.  Lots of keeper-sized black drum continue to be caught.

In the surf big sharks are around along the with the tarpon, and at night big bull red drum can be caught around small inlets like Frampton, Townsend and Jeremy.  They won’t bite until late evening or at night because with water temperatures still in the 82-degree range they won’t feed during the day.  The bite has dropped off at The Rocks, but it should get better again once there is another drop in temperatures.  In the fall every drop in water temperatures is typically followed by an improvement in the fishing.

Nearshore Spanish mackerel continue to school under birds in 30-40 feet of water.

September 23

Water temperatures in the Edisto Island area are still holding in the 80-82 degree range.

As along much of the South Carolina coast, the biggest news around Edisto Island is the annual arrival of the bull red drum which have showed up consistently in the last week.  Unlike Charleston, Beaufort and some other areas with deep water inshore where the drum really never have to leave, Captain Ron Davis, Jr. (843-513-0143) says that Edisto is relatively shallow but temperatures have now gotten right for fish to show up at The Rocks – a patch of hard bottom about half a mile out.  It’s not hard to find on weekends through the first part of November!

Fresh cut mullet or cut menhaden fished on the bottom on a Carolina rig are the best baits, and the best tide is generally the higher part of the tide – or dead low.  Chum can hold the fish in an area longer.

The pattern for inshore redfish and troutremains about the same, although Ron reports that some days for trout are much better than others.  Some days you could catch 50, and another day 10.  Sheepshead fishing is still excellent, and the flounder fishing is good but should get better.  When water temperatures hit the mid- to lower-60s things will be ideal.  Spanish mackerel are still thick and will be through October, and while plenty of tarpon are around they should only be here another week or two.  One more cold front that drops temperatures below 76 or 78 degrees should be the end of the season.

September 13  

Captain Ron Davis, Jr. (843-513-0143) advises that most years water temperatures top out at around 86 degrees, but this year they got to 88.  They’ve now dropped to around 84.  When water temps get below 80 fishing will be wide open, including early morning topwater action for redfish and trout, but fall fishing is already starting to kick into gear.

Ron says that the redfish that are in the area are feeding well both in the flats and in the creeks.  In both the flats and creeks the fishing is good for the six-hour period at the bottom of the tide cycle (three hours either side of low tide).  Fish can be found around the main river oyster bars, and in the creeks they are also hanging around oyster bars and docks with structure.  Everything is biting live shrimp, which can be fished 2-3 feet below a float or on weedless jigheads or weedless flutter hooks.  Scented plastics will also work, but live bait is stronger at this time of year.  In the creeks cut mullet will also catch fish, particularly when bait stealers necessitate using it.  Expect a large percentage of 13-15 inch redfish, as well as plenty of nice 15-18 inch keeper sized black drum.

There is good tailing activity, and in fact the best tailing season of the year is almost upon us.  On higher tides fish will be visible on the “moon flats” – main river short grass flats.

Trout fishing has also been good during the upper stages of the tide around main river white shell banks.  Areas around the entrance to major feeder creeks are particularly good.  Fishing live shrimp 4-5 feet deep below a popping cork is the best pattern.

Flounder fishing is strong for a couple of hours at the first of the incoming, and also at the last of the outgoing tide.  Shell banks closest to the ocean have been most productive fishing with live shrimp, live mullet or mud minnows.

Around docks with 8-10 feet of water at low tide sheepsheadare feeding well on fiddler crabs.

Tarponfishing has been very good around the sand bars at the mouth of both rivers.  Fishing is best when the tide is moving more slowly and the water is clearer, including around low tide but with dead high the best.   A live mullet or menhaden fished 4 feet under a float is the best bait.

In the surf redfish are starting to group up around the major inlets where they will eat cut mullet and menhaden, and at the rocks big bull reds are arriving.  Whiting are feeding well in the surf and around the sandbars, and blues and ladyfish are all over the place.

At the nearshore reefs Spanish mackerel are feeding very well.  Anglers can catch them by trolling Clarks Spoons or casting at diving birds with small, heavy spoons.

Offshore the wahoo bite should be awesome when weather allows, as the September full moon is usually the peak of wahoo season.  Trolling 10-12 knots with sea witches, or at high speeds of 15-18 knots will catch wahoo as well as plenty of sailfish.  Bottom fishing is also starting to pick up, and as soon as water temperatures drop a few degrees live bottom in 70-110 feet of water will be wide open.

A nice black drum caught on Captain Ron Davis, Jr.'s boat
A nice black drum caught on Captain Ron Davis, Jr.’s boat