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AHQ INSIDER Hilton Head Island (SC) Fall 2019 Fishing Report - Updated November 25

  • by Jay

November 25

Inshore morning surface water temperatures around Hilton Head are in the upper 50s and the water is clear. 

It’s all about the trout and redfish right now, and Captain Kai Williams (843-816-7475) reports that the bite for both species has been really strong. Trout have been in a wide range from about 4-15 feet of water, and they have been biting well on all stages of the tide. They are around grass banks, creek bends, and drops. Mud minnows and shrimp are both working very well, and they are also eating up artificials. Zman PaddlerZ in “opening night” color have been really good fished on jigheads. 

In the clear conditions Captain Dan “Fishin’ Coach” Utley (843-368-2126) has also found a good trout bite, and he emphasizes that right now the fish are not hard to find. Some areas have 12-13 inch fish, but there are also a ton of 16-20 trout around. He has been having the best success on moving tides around various types of structure – oyster beds, points, dock pilings, etc. Both live bait and soft plastics are working, and Coach points out that overall fish are a little deeper. He is fishing jigs close to the bottom and putting shrimp 5 feet under a cork. 

The redfish action is also very strong, and the fish are starting to group up in some bigger schools. Kai saw one school with upwards of 100 fish, which makes for some good low tide sight-casting conditions. He is mainly targeting them on the lower half of the tide cycle around oysters, but if you have to fish the higher stages they can be caught soaking baits in the grass or along the edges. ZMan minnows have been all that Kai has used. 

Coach is also fishing around low tide structure for redfish, but on higher tides he has been able to catch them dead-sticking Gulp baits in the grass in places that have historically produced. Fish will also eat live shrimp under a float throughout the tide cycle. 

A few flounder are still around. 

A nice redfish caught this week with Coach

October 29

Inshore morning surface water temperatures around Hilton Head are still in the mid-70s, approaching 10 degrees warmer than is typical for this time of year. Mullet are still abundant in the creeks but it can take a little work to find bait-sized shrimp.  At times they have actually been easier to catch on high water than low. 

Typically at this time of year Captain Kai Williams (843-816-7475) reports that he would be expecting to wear jeans and a light jacket and jacking the trout, but yesterday he was covered in sunscreen and sweating in 85-86 degree temperatures! As a result the trout are holding a little deeper than would be expected and are biting more sporadically, and the only time they get really shallow is early when there is still a strong topwater bite. After the next cold front they should get into a mid-fall pattern and you should be able to catch them with mud minnows under a popping cork on every drift in 3-4 feet, but they just have not gotten there yet. 

Captain Dan “Fishin’ Coach” Utley (843-368-2126) adds that things have been exacerbated by the king tides, and when he has caught trout it has usually been when you can find clear water. The high outgoing on large flats has produced his best action, and Vudu shrimp under a popping cork have been working the best in moving water.

Coach has been having success with the redfish, but outside of tailing fish the higher stages of the grass have fished tough. Fish are basically in a late summer pattern still and they have not really gotten along the grass edges at higher tides. The few high tide spots he is having success on have good oyster beds, and the best action overall has been when the water is out of the grass around shell rakes a little out from the bank. 

Kai reports that for redfish he is having the best luck with mud minnows and has not had to fish cut mullet recently. Zman PaddlerZ in “sexy mullet” have also been working, and the DieZel MinnowZ in “purple death” have also been outstanding. 

Bull red drum are moving towards the ocean and getting in their usual late fall places around hard bottom. There are fish in the rock piles submerged in the shipping channel at the mouth of the Calibogue Sound, and there are also fish in hard bottom in the Port Royal Sound. Sandbars have not really been producing. The best bite has been in 25-40 feet of water with mullet and menhaden. 

While fish are generally moving towards the ocean, with temperatures still warm there continue to be some outstanding catches up the rivers around deep structure and bridges. 

 

October 18

Inshore morning surface water temperatures around Hilton Head are down to the mid-70s. Finger mullet, menhaden and shrimp are still prolific. 

The trout bite has finally turned on in Hilton Head, and Captain Kai Williams (843-816-7475) reports that on both the incoming and outgoing tide they have been catching some good fish in the marshes. Fish are around oysters in moving water 4-5 feet deep, and they can be caught on shrimp, mud minnows or Zman baits. It has been an impressive comeback since the very cold winter knocked the fish back recently.   

Inshore the redfishhave also been doing well, particularly around low tide in about two feet of water. Fish can be found around oysters and white shell bars. 

Captain Dan “Fishin’ Coach” Utley (843-368-2126) adds that fishing the right tide matters, and the best tide for him has been the outgoing when water is just out of the grass. On higher tides the fish can be hard to find. 

Year old reds are very plentiful right now, and they will all eat shrimp, mullet or mud minnows.

Black drumcan be caught on shrimp around rocks and docks in the creeks.

Coach reports that the bull red drum fishing has still been a little spotty, although when water temperatures drop below about 70 it should get really good. The areas he fishes in 25-35 feet, such as hard bottoms or the Broad River Bridge, have some fish but they have not arrived in huge numbers. Keep your eyes open for gannets diving on bait off the shipping channel as that will signal that the bull drum are feeding. 

Kai has been finding some fish in the Calibogue Sound and Port Royal Sound, and for him live menhaden, cut menhaden and cut mullet have been fishing the best. He is also concentrating on about 35 feet of water. 

 

October 3

Inshore morning surface water temperatures around Hilton Head are still in the mid-80s. There are lots of shrimp in the creeks and surf, and off the beaches the mullet run is still going strong. 

The most exciting change in Hilton Head fishing is that Captain Kai Williams (843-816-7475) reports that action for bull red drum is heating up in the rivers and off the beaches. In the Calibogue Sound, at the Broad River Bridge, around structure off the beach, and on the Savannah side of Hilton Head fish are being caught in 5-50 feet of water on mullet or menhaden. Depths in the 20s have been the most productive right now. 

There have also been some smaller reds caught inshore on shrimp, but the bite for slot-sized fish has not really turned on.

While Captain Dan “Fishin’ Coach” Utley (843-368-2126) reported that there had been some trout caught in very deep water recently, the shallow inshore trout bite is also picking up in the marshes fishing shrimp under popping corks at both high and low tides as long as there is some clean water. Most of the fish are small but there are some better ones mixed in, and as soon as water temperatures drop the big fish should show up.

 

 

September 19

Inshore morning surface water temperatures around Hilton Head are about 85 degrees. There are lots of shrimp in the creeks and surf, and off the beaches the mullet run is underway. After the last full moon lots of menhaden pushed up the rivers. 

There are still some troutbeing caught in about four feet of water in areas with better visibility with live shrimp under a popping cork, but Captain Dan “Fishin’ Coach” Utley (843-368-2126) reports that the best trout bite this week has been in deep water. There have been fish caught on live shrimp fished as deep as 30 feet in deep river channels out front of docks. 

If water temperatures drop a few more degrees Captain Kai Williams (843-816-7475) expects that inshore redfishwill start to bite better, and more bigger fish will join the little ones that are already biting. The best place to look right now is around creek mouths on lower, moving tides, and live shrimp are the best bait. 

Tarponare still all over the place, up the rivers and in the ocean. They will be around until water temperatures dip below 75 degrees. Big live baits are the best bait.

Additionally, bull red drum have showed up at the Broad River Bridge where they are migrating from further up the rivers back towards the ocean. Tarpon are in the same areas. 

 

September 13

Inshore morning surface water temperatures around Hilton Head are about 86 degrees. There are lots of shrimp in the creeks and surf, and off the beaches the mullet run is underway. 

With water temperatures still very warm it’s no surprise that Captain Kai Williams (843-816-7475) reports that inshore redfishhave still not fully turned on. You can still catch good numbers of little fish, but the better ones will bite more once its gets cooler. The best place to look right now is around creek mouths on lower, moving tides, and live shrimp are the best bait. 

It’s a similar story with the trout, and Kai reports that they are starting to bite better but the action will not get really good until water temperatures enter the 70s. However, some bigger fish are already starting to be caught, and the fish are generally in about four feet of water in areas with better visibility. Live shrimp under a popping cork are the best bait. 

Tarponare still all over the place, up the rivers and in the ocean. They will be around until water temperatures dip below 75 degrees. Big live baits are working the best, and they are still picking up some smaller cobia, jacks up to 36-pounds, and even bull reds while targeting tarpon. The Broad River has been producing.

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