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AHQ INSIDER Hilton Head Island (SC) Fall Fishing Report – Updated December 1

  • by Jay

The newest Hilton Head fishing report can be found at: http://www.anglersheadquarters.com/ahq-insider-hilton-head-island-sc-winter-2017-18-fishing-report/

December 1

Inshore water temperatures in the Hilton Head area are around 60 degrees and clarity is good.

Fishing is still excellent in Hilton Head, and Captain Dan “Fishin’ Coach” Utley (843-368-2126) reports that big redfish have showed up along the grass on high water on main rivers like the May and Chechessee.  They will take a variety of baits, including rattling corks and minnows or shrimp dead or alive.  Dead sticking Gulp! shrimp on a ¼ ounce jighead has also been very effective.  Some of the fish are in the 24-27 inch range but there also lots of 16-18 inch fish.

A nice Hilton Head redfish caught this week on Coach's boat
A nice Hilton Head redfish caught this week on Coach’s boat

The trout bite is still great on soft plastics and live shrimp.  Finding clean, moving water is the key.

November 10

Inshore water temperatures in the Hilton Head area are down to the mid-60s.

The troutfishing in the Hilton Head area isn’t a little “off” anymore, and Captain Dan “Fishin’ Coach” Utley (843-368-2126) reports that they are biting artificials as well as live shrimp very well.  Look for any moving water around oyster beds, creek mouths, and points.  On the high outgoing last week Coach’s boat caught a fish on every cast for 25 casts(!), but other tides have been good too.  His boat has done best near big rivers but other areas will also work.

Live shrimp are hard to beat, and a variety of artificials are also productive.  Color does not seem to matter.  You can also catch fish on topwaters late in the afternoon – look for areas where fish are blowing up glass minnows or other baitfish around points.

Trout fishing has been phenomenal lately in the Hilton Head area

The redfish bite is also red hot, and they are feeding on high water around grass lines.  You can also catch fish back in the smaller creeks around oyster beds on both moving tides, and fish can also be caught in feeder creeks around bends, docks and trees.  Live shrimp, mud minnows and cut mullet are all working around the grass lines, and while there are still shrimp around they aren’t present in the numbers they were a week or two ago.  Soon you will need to net deep holes to catch live shrimp.

Artificials are also working really well, and fish are so aggressive that this week Coach hooked a two-pound red on a white Gulp! bait.  Four bigger reds chased him and eventually pulled the bait out of his mouth!  It is definitely the time to fish the Low Country.

October 20

Inshore water temperatures in the Hilton Head area are holding pretty steady, and they have only dropped into the high-70s.  Clarity is low.

There has been a lot of wind and big tides in the Hilton Head area, and as a result Captain Dan “Fishin’ Coach” Utley (843-368-2126) reports that the trout fishing is still a little off.

The pattern for catching redfishis basically unchanged, and you need to get in the small creeks and target them around structure.  However, the bull reds seem to have left the inshore waters after briefly showing up.  With cooler weather anglers hope they will return again.

Sporadically there have been some good catches of black drum, particularly fishing live shrimp near the bottom around structure in fairly deep inshore water such as holes in the back of creeks.

October 5

Inshore water temperatures in the Hilton Head area are around 80 degrees, with water clarity pretty low.

It’s been a tough week for fishing with gale-force winds, and Captain Dan “Fishin’ Coach” Utley (843-368-2126) reports that that about the only way you can fish is to get in the backs of creeks and fish around bends with fallen trees, docks, riprap and other structure.  There are still a ton of small redfish around, and while most of them are 13-14 inches there are now some in the slot.   Occasionally you will get a fish in the middle of the slot or bigger.  There is an abundance of bait in the creeks, and with the best fishing for a couple of hours either side of low tide you can throw your net in a feeder creek early in the ebb and then have enough bait to fish the next few hours.  Live shrimp may also pick up some black drum and trout, but black drum numbers have been inexplicably low.  Trout were biting well until the water muddied up.

There are spotty reports on the big drum, but everyone is expecting them to make their way inshore soon.

A nice catch of deep hole shrimp
A nice catch of deep hole shrimp

September 15

Inshore water temperatures in the Hilton Head area are around 80 degrees, with water clarity pretty low.

It’s been a tough week for fishing with gale-force winds, and Captain Dan “Fishin’ Coach” Utley (843-368-2126) reports that that about the only way you can fish is to get in the backs of creeks and fish around bends with fallen trees, docks, riprap and other structure.  There are still a ton of small redfish around, and while most of them are 13-14 inches there are now some in the slot.   Occasionally you will get a fish in the middle of the slot or bigger.  There is an abundance of bait in the creeks, and with the best fishing for a couple of hours either side of low tide you can throw your net in a feeder creek early in the ebb and then have enough bait to fish the next few hours.  Live shrimp may also pick up some black drum and trout, but black drum numbers have been inexplicably low.  Trout were biting well until the water muddied up.

There are spotty reports on the big drum, but everyone is expecting them to make their way inshore soon.

September 15

Inshore water temperatures in the Hilton Head area should still be in the lower 80s, even after 4-6 inches of rain.  The water is very dirty but starting to clear slightly.

Before the storm Captain Dan “Fishin’ Coach” Utley (843-368-2126) reports that the bite was pretty similar to two weeks ago, meaning he was catching a lot of small redfishand the occasional bigger fish.  They had two 31-inchers in the creek last week.

The trout bite was already tough before the storm, but this should set it back even further.

The most exciting new action is that bull red drum are starting to show up. For about a week there have been bull drum around the Highway 171 bridge over the Broad River, and they should be in the area through the latter part of October.  Popular spots are around the major sandbars in the Broad River where anglers fish for cobia, at the mouth of the Port Royal Sound around limestone hard bottom areas, on the Hilton Head side of the Beaufort shipping channel, out from the docks of Spanish Wells in the Calibogue Sound, and at a variety of areas off Harbour Town depending on the tide.  Later on in the season they will be around underwater submerged rock piles on the edge of the Savannah River shipping channel.

September 1

Inshore water temperatures in the Hilton Head area are in the lower 80s, and with lots of rain the water is very dirty.

Last week there were some very good tailing tides around Hilton Head, and Captain Dan “Fishin’ Coach” Utley (843-368-2126) reports that with the high water in the morning the bite was very good first thing.  There were lots of slot-sized redfish caught.  There also continue to be tons of juvenile redfish around, and as predicted they are getting very close to reaching 15 inches.  The best pattern for catching these has been to fish around docks, trees and other structure in the bends of creeks.

A nice redfish caught this week with Fishin' Coach
A nice redfish caught this week with Fishin’ Coach

Probably the hottest bite right now is for 1-3 pound ladyfish, which despite their lack of food value put up a great fight with awesome aerial displays.  They are busting glass minnows and especially on high water they can be caught on live shrimp or mud minnows under a rattling cork.  Earlier in the summer they were off the beaches around the sandbars but now they have migrated inside.

With dirty water the trout bite has been tough.

 

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