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AHQ INSIDER Edisto Island (SC) Summer 2020 Fishing Report – Updated June 17

  • by Jay

June 17

Inshore surface water temperatures in the morning around Edisto Island are about 82 degrees and there is decent water clarity. The water is browner in the South Edisto because of all the rainfall coming down the river, while the North Edisto, a closed tidal system, is clearer. 

The fish are in a reliable summer pattern around Edisto Island, and Captain Ron Davis, Jr. (843-513-0143) reports that the overall bite is strong in the area. Brown shrimp are in the creeks and finger mullet are about 2 inches long. 

The trout bite in the creeks continues to be very good. Early in the morning in areas with relatively clear water there has been excellent topwater action around shell banks and main river points. After about 8:30 the bite is usually done. The best topwater bite for trout comes when there is a flood tide at dawn. 

During the day live shrimp under a cork are excellent, and DOA shrimp are also working well around the same main river white shell points. Hard plastic jerkbaits and suspending jerkbaits are also catching fish, and tiny menhaden and small finger mullet can also produce.

A good trout catch with Captain Ron Davis, Jr.
A good trout catch with Captain Ron Davis, Jr.

Between 5:45 and 8:00 a.m. there is also a good topwater bite for redfish when this window corresponds to lower tides – the opposite of the trout. Overall the worst topwater bite is on days when mid-tide is first thing. This bite can also be good for the last two hours of the day on the very rare days when there is no evening wind. 

On the flats fishing is good around oyster shells, and in the creeks fish are around structure such as downed trees, docks, and rocks in deep bends and holes. Low tide is the best time to target them in both areas. 

Sheepshead continue to bite very well in the creeks, but sizes have dropped off. It’s unclear where the bigger fish go, and even when you see them they may not bite. Still, plenty of medium and smaller fish can be caught on fiddler crabs around docks with 6-8 feet of water at low tide.

Closer to the ocean around sand or shell bottoms flounder fishing remains good.  The fish avoid mud.

Whiting are off the beaches, and while the best fish can still be caught in the inlets around sandbars there are plenty of eating-sized whiting in the surf which can be caught on pieces of shrimp.

The action at the nearshore reefs like the Edisto Nearshore, Edisto 40, Edisto 60 and Edisto 90 continues to be outstanding when you can get out there. The reefs are covered up in spadefish right now, and there are also tons of Spanish mackerel, black drum and bull red drum around. Cobia can also be found close in out to 90 feet of water, and king mackerel are in 40-90 feet. 

The best way to approach the fishing is to anchor and then put out live menhaden on the bottom on a Carolina rig for bull drum or cobia. Then you can cast 1-3 ounce bucktails or jigging spoons. If you see schools of Spanish mackerel you can chase them and cast small spoons. If you want to target black drum shrimp are the key, while spadefish want jelly balls. 

King mackerel can be caught slow trolling live menhaden on king mackerel rigs once the sun gets up, while for the first couple of hours they will eat anything trolled out in 90-100 feet. 

In 70-120 feet of water bottom fishing is very strong for red snapper (which must be released), triggerfish, vermillion snapper, red porgies, black sea bass and more. 

The dolphin have slowed way down while wahoo and tuna are still being caught at the ledge in decent numbers.

May 28

Inshore surface water temperatures in the morning around Edisto Island are about 78 degrees, and the water is dirty in the South Edisto and better in the North Edisto. 

Overall fishing conditions remain similar around Edisto Island, and Captain Ron Davis, Jr. (843-513-0143) reports that from inshore to offshore the fishing is very good right now – starting with a wide-open trout bite in the creeks. Early in the morning in areas with relatively clear water there has been excellent topwater action around shell banks and main river points. You can probably fish the same way in the creeks but it’s been so good closer to the ocean that Ron has not been back there. After about 8:30 the bite is usually done. 

During the day live shrimp under a cork are excellent if you can get them, but DOA shrimp are also working well around the same main river white shell points. Hard plastic jerkbaits and suspending jerkbaits are also catching fish, and tiny menhaden and small finger mullet can also produce.

A nice morning of trout with Captain Ron Davis

Between 5:45 and 8:00 a.m. there is also a good topwater bite for redfish when this window corresponds to lower tides. This bite can also be good for the last two hours of the day on the very rare days when there is no evening wind. 

On the flats fishing is good around oyster shells, and in the creeks fish are around structure such as downed trees, docks, and rocks in deep bends and holes. Low tide is the best time to target them in both areas. 

Sheepshead continue to bite very well in the creeks. They can be caught on fiddler crabs around docks with 6-8 feet of water at low tide.

Closer to the ocean around sandy or shell bottoms flounder fishing has been good.  The fish avoid mud. 

Whiting have moved shallower, and while the best fish can still be caught in the inlets around sandbars there are plenty of eating-sized whiting in the surf which can be caught on pieces of shrimp. 

The action at the nearshore reefs is still on fire, even though getting out there remains tricky with the winds.  Bluefish, Spanish mackerel, summer trout, bull redfish, and cobia are all around at the Edisto Nearshore, Edisto 40, Edisto 60 and Edisto 90. Live menhaden or squid on the bottom have caught some nice cobia. While the Spanish are everywhere for now the king mackerel are mainly out in 70-80 plus feet. 

In 70-120 feet of water bottom fishing is strong for all species. 

The dolphin bite is still trickling in, but the action is still down from past years.  Both wahoo and tuna are being caught at the ledge in decent numbers but sizes have been very good.

May 13

Inshore surface water temperatures in the morning around Edisto Island are about 72 degrees, and the water in both rivers is nice and clear.  

Back on the water accepting small parties again, Captain Ron Davis, Jr. (843-513-0143) reports that from inshore to offshore the fishing is very good right now – starting with a wide-open trout bite in the creeks. Early in the morning in areas with relatively clear water there has been excellent topwater action around shell banks and main river points. You can probably fish the same way in the creeks but it’s been so good closer to the ocean that Ron has not been back there. After about 8:30 the bite is usually done. 

During the day live shrimp under a cork are excellent if you can get them, but DOA shrimp are also working well around the same main river white shell points. Hard plastic jerkbaits and suspending jerkbaits are also catching fish, and tiny menhaden and small finger mullet can also produce.

Between 5:45 and 8:00 a.m. there is also a good topwater bite for redfish as long as this window corresponds to lower tides. This bite can also be good for the last two hours of the day on the very rare days where there is no evening wind. 

On the flats fishing is good around oyster shells, and in the creeks fish are around structure such as downed trees, docks, and rocks in deep bends and holes. Low tide is the best time to target them in both areas. 

Sheepshead have moved back in and they are biting very well in the creeks. They can be caught on fiddler crabs around docks with 6-8 feet of water at low tide.

Closer to the ocean around sandy or shell bottoms flounder fishing has been good.  The fish avoid mud. 

Whiting have moved shallower, and while the best fish can still be caught in the inlets around sandbars there are plenty of eating-sized whiting in the surf which can be caught on pieces of shrimp. 

The action at the nearshore reefs is on fire, even though most weeks there has only been about one good day when you get offshore.  Bluefish, Spanish mackerel, summer trout, bull redfish, and cobia are all around at the Edisto Nearshore, Edisto 40, Edisto 60 and Edisto 90. Live menhaden or squid on the bottom have caught some nice cobia. While the Spanish are everywhere for now the king mackerel are mainly out in 70-80 plus feet. 

In 70-120 feet of water bottom fishing is on fire for all species. 

The dolphin bite is trickling in, with the action down from past years. Both wahoo and tuna are being caught at the ledge in decent numbers but sizes have been very good. 

A nice dolphin caught recently out of Edisto Island
A nice dolphin caught recently out of Edisto Island

April 3

It’s a tough time to fish in the Edisto Island area, and Captain Ron Davis, Jr. (843-513-0143) reports that all local ramps are closed to recreational fishing and the private marina on the island has also followed suit. 

There are only a few community ramps offering access, and Ron reminds anglers that if they are lucky enough to have access then there are strict limits on the number of people allowed on boats as well as any form of congregation. 

Ron is not currently accepting guide reservations.

March 27

Inshore surface water temperatures in the morning around Edisto Island are 65-66 degrees, and the water in both rivers has cleared. It is a pretty green.

This continues to be a time of rapid change around Edisto Island, and Captain Ron Davis, Jr. (843-513-0143) reports that while there are still plenty of good fish offshore more and more of the larger sheepshead have moved back in. They can be caught on fiddler crabs around docks with 6-8 feet of water at low tide. 

While trout are still in a winter pattern and scattered out from mid-way back to the backs of creeks where you can catch them on a ¼ ounce jighead and a grub, this is a transition period and any day now there should start to be early spawning fish on the main river points around white shell banks near the ocean. These fish will be caught on topwater lures in the morning or on DOA shrimp under a cork the rest of the day.

The redfish bite remains essentially unchanged, except for the fact that it is much easier to see the flats fish when they are swimming away from you! They remain focused on small bait and highly skittish. For the next month the creeks will be the best place to catch reds. 

In the creeks fish are around structure such as downed trees, docks, and rocks in deep bends and holes, and in addition to artificials cut mullet or mud minnows will catch fish. Low tide is the best time to target them.

Inshore there are small black drum that can be caught on the flats, but there are now better fish in the creeks around the same deep bends with structure where the redfish hang out. While you can still use shrimp or crab tiny croakers are starting to arrive.

Flounder should be moving in any day now, and water temperatures hit about 66 the fishing for them usually explodes. 

Whiting have moved shallower, and while the best fish can still be caught in the inlets around sandbars there are plenty of eating-sized whiting in the surf which can be caught on pieces of shrimp. 

The best bite right now is at the nearshore reefs, and bluefish, Spanish mackerel, summer trout, black drum, sheepshead, and bull redfish are all available. Because water temperatures heated up so fast they arrived sooner than usual. 

There are still plenty of black sea bass in 40 feet of water, although there are only patches of decent-sized fish. The better bottom fishing is in roughly 90 feet of water where there are big black sea bass, vermillion snapper, triggerfish, and red porgy.   It has gotten even better as temperatures have risen.

Offshore there are still wahoo and tuna, and while the mahi mahi have not yet arrived Ron is expecting an early dolphin season this year.  Recently it has been peaking around the last week of April and this year could be even earlier.

March 13

Inshore surface water temperatures around Edisto Island are 57-59 degrees, and the South Edisto River and the creeks coming off it are very brown.     

In the next 30 days there are likely to be significant changes to saltwater fishing around Edisto Island, but already Captain Ron Davis, Jr. (843-513-0143) reports that changes to the inshore fishing are already underway. The biggest change inshore is that some of the larger sheepshead have started to move back in. There are some good keepers that can be caught on fiddler crabs around docks with 6-8 feet of water at low tide. 

The trout bite remains similar with fish scattered out from mid-way back to the backs of creeks. All you need is a ¼ ounce jighead and a grub, and you can either troll or cast to cover water like a freshwater bass fisherman and then slow down once you find concentrations.   

The redfish bite remains essentially unchanged, and the flats fish are focused on small bait and highly skittish. For the next month the creeks will be the best place to catch reds. 

In the creeks fish are around structure such as downed trees, docks, and rocks in deep bends and holes, and in addition to artificials cut mullet or mud minnows will catch fish. Low tide is the best time to target them.

Black drum can still be caught in the same deep holes in the creeks where redfish are generally found, but most of the fish are still in the 10-14 inch range. Cut shrimp are all you need to catch them.

Whiting are still deeper, but instead of looking in 15-25 feet off the sides of sandbars or at the nearshore reefs they have moved towards about 10 feet of water.  

At the Edisto 40 there are still sheepshead around which will stay through May, but there is also good bull red drum fishing which will only improve as well as big black drum. In the next few weeks bluefish will also arrive.

There are still plenty of black sea bass in 40 feet of water, although there are only patches of decent-sized fish.  The better bottom fishing is in roughly 90 feet of water where there are big black sea bass, vermillion snapper, triggerfish, and red porgy.  This is the “best game in town” when you can find calm days to head offshore – rare in March.

February 27

Inshore surface water temperatures around Edisto Island are around 55 degrees, and there is a ton of brown water.   

The influx of tannic freshwater has not hurt the fishing much yet, but Captain Ron Davis, Jr. (843-513-0143) reports that there is still more on the way. Overall the trout bite remains pretty good and fish continue to be scattered out in the backs of the creeks. All you need is a ¼ ounce jighead and a grub, and you can either troll or cast to cover water like a freshwater bass fisherman. 

The redfish bite is still essentially unchanged, although on the flats they have gotten a little more skittish.  It will only get worse in March when the fish start to key on very small bait and essentially lose interest in most offerings from fishermen. For the next month the creeks will be the best place to catch reds. 

In the creeks fish are around structure such as downed trees, docks, and rocks in deep bends and holes, and in addition to artificials cut mullet or mud minnows will catch fish.  Low tide is the best time to target them.

Black drum can still be caught in the same deep holes in the creeks where redfish are generally found, but most of the fish are still in the 10-14 inch range. Cut shrimp are all you need to catch them.

The large sheepshead are essentially gone from the creeks, although there are still a few bigger fish around the rare docks that have 15 plus feet of water at low tide. 

Whiting are still deeper, and you need to look in 15-25 feet of water off the sides of sandbars or at the nearshore reefs. 

At the nearshore reefs sheepshead, black drum, bull red drum, small black sea bass, and occasional trout can be found. However, to find the bigger sea bass you generally need to head out to 50-60 feet of water. In 60 plus feet of water a mixed bag of bottom fishing species can be found, including triggerfish, snapper and porgies. There are also some big flounder out in 60-70 feet of water, and they can be caught on a 3-ounce jighead with a curly tail grub or a 2-4 ounce bucktail with a strip of bait.  You will catch more sea bass but there are some good flounder to be landed. 

There is still great wahoo fishing on peak moon phases, and this next month tuna will also be caught trolling the ledge.

February 14

Inshore surface water temperatures around Edisto Island still average about 54 degrees, and for right now the water is still winter clear. 

Even though it has not arrived yet, a ton of freshwater is moving down the rivers towards Edisto. Captain Ron Davis, Jr. (843-513-0143) reports that in the next few days it is a certainty that the local waters will get darker and tannic, but the uncertainty is what is will do to species such as trout. Changing salinity and darker water in the South Edisto could move the fish to less brackish areas and make them run the beaches, or it could just shut down the bite. It also unclear how long it will take for conditions to stabilize again.  Fish have certainly been showing a preference for clean water this winter, and the smallest tides on the weakest moon phases have fished the best. 

For now fish remain scattered out in the backs of the creeks, and all you need is a ¼ ounce jighead and a grub. You can either troll or cast to cover water like a freshwater bass fisherman. 

Recently a hatch of 2-4 inch eels has been a mixed blessing, and on certain days fish have gorged while the next day they can be utterly unwilling to eat. Pearl, gray and white grubs that imitate the eels have been the best bait right now. 

Captain Ron Davis, Jr. with a nice one caught this week
Captain Ron Davis, Jr. with a nice one caught this week

The redfish bite is still essentially unchanged, although on the flats they have gotten a little more skittish. They will still eat mud minnows, frozen shrimp, cut mullet and more, but generally you only need artificial lures like Gulp! if you can find the fish. 

The best tide is the mid-outgoing tide around oyster beds that are just under the water. Higher than mid-tide is tough to fish as the reds will tuck up in the grass and become hard to find.

In the creeks reds are still around structure and deep holes, and in addition to artificials cut mullet or mud minnows will also catch fish.

Black drum can still be caught in the same deep holes in the creeks where redfish are generally found, but most of the fish are still in the 10-14 inch range. Cut shrimp are all you need to catch them.

The large sheepshead are essentially gone from the creeks, although there are still a few bigger fish around the rare docks that have 15 plus feet of water at low tide. 

Whiting are still deeper, and you need to look in 15-25 feet of water off the sides of sandbars or at the nearshore reefs. 

At the nearshore reefs sheepshead, black drum, bull red drum, small black sea bass, and occasional trout can be found. However, to find the bigger sea bass you generally need to head out to 50-60 feet of water. In 60 plus feet of water a mixed bag of bottom fishing species can be found, including triggerfish, snapper and porgies. There are also some big flounder out in 60-70 feet of water, and they can be caught on a 3-ounce jighead with a curly tail grub or a 2-4 ounce bucktail with a strip of bait.  You will catch more sea bass but there are some good flounder out there. 

False albacore are still abundant from 40 feet out to the ledge, but especially in 60-90 feet. Ideal for fly-fishing, they average 5-6 pounds and are rolling on the surface at very small bait. While they will take spinning gear you need to fish something very small as they are tackle-shy.

There is still great wahoo fishing on peak moon phases.

January 29

Inshore surface water temperatures around Edisto Island average about 54 degrees, and the waters are as clear as they have been in weeks.   

Dropping water temperatures have slowed the trout action, and Captain Ron Davis, Jr. (843-513-0143) reports that they have gone from catching 30 plus trout on recent trips to catching 10 or so fish.  However, so long as water temperatures do not drop below about 50 degrees they should continue to feed. 

When temperatures drop fish group up in the deepest holes in the creeks, but when they are stable or rising they scatter out in the backs of the creeks. Still all you need is a ¼ ounce jighead and a grub, and you can either troll or cast to cover water like a freshwater bass fisherman.

The redfish bite is essentially unchanged, and it will not be until water temperatures start to rise and they get on small bait and very finicky that fishing will drop off (or if it gets extremely cold). In the creeks reds are still around structure and deep holes, and in addition to artificials cut mullet or mud minnows will also catch fish.

On the flats redfish are still biting very well on mud minnows, frozen shrimp, cut mullet and more. However, fish are so programmed to eat that you really only need artificial lures like Gulp! if you can find the fish. 

The best tide is the mid-outgoing tide around oyster beds that are just under the water. Higher than mid-tide is tough to fish as the reds will tuck up in the grass and become hard to find.

Black drum can be caught in the same deep holes in the creeks where redfish are generally found, but most of the fish are still in the 10-14 inch range.  Cut shrimp are all you need to catch them.

The large sheepshead are mostly gone from the creeks, although there are still a few bigger fish around the rare docks that have 15 plus feet of water at low tide. 

Whiting have gone deeper, and now you need to look in 15-25 feet of water off the sides of sandbars or at the nearshore reefs. 

At the nearshore reefs sheepshead, black drum, bull red drum, small black sea bass, and occasional trout can be found. However, to find the bigger sea bass you generally need to head out to 50-60 feet of water. In 60 plus feet of water a mixed bag of bottom fishing species can be found, including triggerfish, snapper and porgies. There are also some big flounder out in 60-70 feet of water, and they can be caught on a 3-ounce jighead with a curly tail grub or a 2-4 ounce bucktail with a strip of bait. You will catch more sea bass but there are some good flounder out there. 

False albacore are still abundant from 40 feet out to the ledge, but especially in 60-90 feet. Ideal for fly-fishing, they average 5-6 pounds and are rolling on the surface at very small bait. While they will take spinning gear you need to fish something very small as they are tackle-shy.

With water temperatures at the ledge still in the mid to upper-70s there is still great wahoo fishing on peak moon phases.

A good day for big red drum recently with Captain Ron Davis, Jr.
A good day for big red drum recently with Captain Ron Davis, Jr.

January 15

Inshore surface water temperatures around Edisto Island average about 58 degrees, and the North Edisto is very clear while the South Edisto is dark and tannic from all the freshwater coming down the river. 

The trout action is very strong for this time of year, and Captain Ron Davis, Jr. (843-513-0143) reports that right now pretty much everyone who gets to the creeks is catching fish – including bank fishermen. The very smallest creeks seem to be fishing the best, and while fish are scattered through the creeks way in the back of the major creek arms seems to be the best area. All you need is a ¼ ounce jighead and a grub, and you can either troll or cast to cover water like a freshwater bass fisherman.

While redfish will be mixed in with the trout, in the creeks they are more likely to be found around structure while the trout are more randomly scattered. The same lures will work for redfish, and cut mullet or mud minnows will also catch fish.

On the flats redfish are still biting very well on mud minnows, frozen shrimp, cut mullet and more. However, fish are so programmed to eat that you really only need artificial lures like Gulp! if you can find the fish. 

The best tide is the mid-outgoing tide around oyster beds that are just under the water. Depending on water conditions you can sight fish, but you don’t need to see the fish to catch them. Sight-fishing is obviously easier in the North than the South Edisto based on water conditions. Higher than mid-tide is tough to fish as the reds will tuck up in the grass and become hard to find.

Caleb Davis with a nice Edisto redfish caught this week
Caleb Davis with a nice Edisto redfish caught this week

 

Black drum can be caught in the same deep holes in the creeks where redfish are generally found, but there are relatively few keepers. Cut shrimp are all you need to catch them.

In the surf whiting can be found around sandbars and inlets, but you generally need some kind of break instead of a flat beach. Look for fish in 6-8 feet of water. 

The large sheepshead are mostly gone from the creeks, but there are lots of small fish still around that will stay until if and when water temperatures dip below 55. In addition to sheepshead bigger black drum, bull red drum and small black sea bass can be found at the nearshore reefs. Keeper black sea bass can be found in 40-45 feet if you can find an area that has not been overfished, but the more consistent action is in 60 feet. There are also other bottom fish at this depth, but the best action is in 80-100 feet for a smorgasbord of species. 

From 50-60 feet out to 90-100 feet there are scattered pods of false albacore everywhere, and they are truly a fly fisherman’s dream. Averaging 5-6 pounds they are rolling on the surface at very small bait, and while they will take spinning gear you need to fish something very small as they are tackle-shy.

There have been good wahoo reports high speed trolling, with 3-5 fish an average outing.  A popular pattern is to troll early and that bottom fish in the afternoon. There have not been a lot of tuna reports recently.

 

 

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