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AHQ INSIDER Hilton Head Island (SC) Summer 2018 Fishing Report – Updated June 19

  • by Jay

The newest Hilton Head fishing report can be found at: http://www.anglersheadquarters.com/ahq-insider-hilton-head-island-sc-summer-2018-fishing-report/

June 19

Inshore surface water temperatures around Hilton Head are in the low to mid-80s, and clarity is pretty normal for this time of year. There are brown shrimp in the creeks big enough for bait but you have to throw the net a lot to catch enough to use, while the more prolific white shrimp are not yet bait-sized.

Redfish are in a summer pattern in the Hilton Head area, and Captain Dan “Fishin’ Coach” Utley (843-368-2126) reports that the bite is pretty tide dependent.  Last week with the very big high tides the fishing was not as good, whereas the week before it was better fishing the outgoing around shell bars and points when fish were out of the grass.

This week cooler morning temperatures have intersected with low water and then the incoming, and the fishing has been okay. They have caught some big reds around deep bends in the creeks that have trees, and they have also started to pick up a lot of 10-11 inch fish (which usually doesn’t happened until the after the 4th).

 

A nice redfish caught this week with Coach
A nice redfish caught this week with Coach

There has been a decent bite for numbers of black drumfishing with small pieces of cut shrimp, but most of the fish have been 11-12 inches and getting keeper-sized fish has been tougher.

On the incoming tide Coach’s boat has caught the occasional trout on mud minnows fished under a floating cork, and the same is true of flounder on the same bait.  Fishermen are reminded that the SCDNR is strongly encouraging anglers to practice catch and release of all spotted seatrout through the end of September.  To read the full news release click here.

The cobra bite (see the Beaufort report) has been better inshore than out at the Betsy Ross, and some early tarpon have been jumped at the mouths of the sounds.  Menhaden schools have started to arrive on the flats in front of Pinckney and in the Chechessee.  Coach has not seen ladyfish yet.

May 10

Inshore surface water temperatures in the Hilton Head area are in the mid-70s and clarity is good.

As the water has warmed up the fishing has gotten better, and Captain Dan “Fishin’ Coach” Utley (843-368-2126) reports that they are catching some nice redfish.  Fish are not in a summer pattern yet, and they are still catching them mainly back in the small creeks.  You pretty much have to fish at mid-tide – on high tide they are very hard to locate, and at low tide their metabolisms are so fast that they are very skittish.

The best places to fish have been big points with oyster bars, on the outside edge before the water gets in the grass.  Floating live minnows under a rattling cork has worked best.

A nice mid-tide redfish caught recently with Coach
A nice mid-tide redfish caught recently with Coach

In the same places where the reds are being caught flounderfishing has been very good on the incoming tide, particularly in moving water on the edge of the marsh very shallow.  Fish are being caught on mud minnows under a rattling cork, and there are lots of nice 16-18 inch fish around.

In the backs of deeper creeks black drum are being caught around trees and other structure in about 10 feet of water at deep bends. The best times to fish have been the end of the outgoing and beginning of the incoming at the bottom of the tide cycle. Cut shrimp on the bottom has been enticing lots of 2-3 pound fish.

Coach reports that there have been some cobiaspotted in the Broad River, although at the next full moon he expects it to get better.  Inshore cobia are strictly catch-and-release and should be handled very carefully.  Anglers should also keep their eyes open for tripletail around floating debris, weed lines, or crab floats in the water – which can be caught and eat very well.

There are still no fresh trout reports.  Fishermen are reminded that, as a precautionary measure, the SCDNR is strongly encouraging anglers to practice catch and release of all spotted seatrout through the end of September.  To read the full news release click here.

April 27

Inshore surface water temperatures in the Hilton Head area are up to about 65 degrees, and after the recent rain visibility declined.

Fishing has improved, but even though water temperatures are where things are supposed to take off the bite is still not on fire.  Captain Dan “Fishin’ Coach” Utley (843-368-2126) reports that cool, rainy weather has probably hurt the redfish bite, but nonetheless they have had some pretty good days.  Reds and black drum have both been caught in depressions in the backs where there is 10-15 feet of water at low tide and docks or downed trees.  The best tide has been lower stages of the tide but not dead low.

There is not a lot going on in the main river yet.

Another nice redfish caught this week with Coach
Another nice redfish caught this week with Coach

There are no fresh trout reports despite Coach fishing places where he has caught them in the past.  Fishermen are reminded that, as a precautionary measure, the SCDNR is asking anglers to practice catch and release of all spotted seatrout through the end of September.  To read the full news release click here.

April 12

Inshore surface water temperatures in the Hilton Head area are up to about 62 degrees.

There’s not much change to report with Hilton Head area fishing, and Captain Dan “Fishin’ Coach” Utley (843-368-2126) reports that low tide redfish are still skittish while on higher tides they can be harder to locate but easier to get to bite.

At the nearshore reefs and wrecks the action for sheepshead and big black drum has been really good in the same spots where they target redfish in the fall.

Trout fishing has been very slow at best. Fishermen are reminded that, as a precautionary measure, the SCDNR is asking anglers to practice catch and release of all spotted seatrout through the end of September.  To read the full news release click here.

March 30

Inshore surface water temperatures in the Hilton Head area are about 59 or 60 degrees, and clarity is decreasing as it warms.

It’s no big surprise that Hilton Head redfish are still pretty skittish, and Captain Dan “Fishin’ Coach” Utley (843-368-2126) reports that on low tide they can be really hard to target.  The schools aren’t as big as they were earlier in the year, but the fish are still fairly schooled up.  The best time to target reds has been on higher stages of the tide, although even on high water you only get a few shots at them.  Both Gulp! and mud minnows free-lined in the grass have been working.

Earlier in the season the fish that were showing up were mainly oversized, but now they are seeing some schools of fish on the smaller end of the slot, too.

A nice March redfish caught with Coach
A nice March redfish caught with Coach

Coach reports that sheepshead fishing has been really good nearshore when you can get out there.

Anglers are reminded that, as a precautionary measure, the SCDNR is asking anglers to practice catch and release of all spotted seatrout through the end of September.  To read the full news release click here.

March 15

Inshore surface water temperatures in the Hilton Head area have dropped to about 56 degrees, and even in windy conditions the water remains surprisingly clear.

Hilton Head area redfish are in a fairly typical spring pattern, but clearer than normal water is both a blessing and a curse.  Captain Dan “Fishin’ Coach” Utley (843-368-2126) reports that it is fairly easy to spot fish, but they can be very skittish – particularly on low tide.  The sight fishing has been better on mid-tides and above, and on the half-tide Coach has been able to sight fish for reds by spotting the school and then casting ahead of them.  Ease up quietly with your trolling motor when you fish this way.

The best action, though, has come fishing on the high rising tide in the grass with mud minnows under a float or casting Gulp! shrimp and dead sticking them in openings in the grass.  Mud minnows have been working a bit better than artificials, and fishing in areas where Coach has caught them in the past with a good mix of oysters and grass has been the best bet.

A nice spring red caught this week on Coach's boat
A nice spring red caught this week on Coach’s boat

On the troutfront, Coach has not been targeting them but a friend caught a bunch of fish fishing soft plastics in a deep bend with 15-20 feet of water and some trees.  They were far away from the ocean.   Anglers are reminded that, as a precautionary measure, the SCDNR is asking anglers to practice catch and release of all spotted seatrout through the end of September.  To read the full news release click here.

March 1

Inshore water temperatures in the Hilton Head area remain about 62, and the water is very clear.

Water clarity has improved, and as a result it’s gotten easier to locate the Hilton Head area redfish again – particularly on low tide.  However, Captain Dan “Fishin’ Coach” Utley (843-368-2126) reports that they are getting into that transition period where they go from their winter patterns into “summer” patterns, and so they won’t be in the tight winter schools for very much longer.

For now you can still find some schools, but Coach reports that fish are pretty skittish when you find them.  For the next month or two expect a transition period where fishing isn’t easy but with some searching they can be caught.

A couple of nice reds caught from Coach's boat
A couple of nice reds caught from Coach’s boat

February 23

Inshore water temperatures in the Hilton Head area are up to about 62 degree on the flats, and the fish are basically doing what they should be doing in mid- to late March.  Visibility has decreased.

For a little while there redfish fishing was really good on the flats, but now Captain Dan “Fishin’ Coach” Utley (843-368-2126) reports that it is has gone “from the penthouse to the outhouse.”  With decreased clarity is has been hard to locate fish, particularly on higher stages of the tide, and reds seem to be breaking out of their winter schools and scattering out.  Hopefully fish will be easier to locate soon.

Coach has heard of a few trout caught, but he has no-first hand information. Anglers are reminded that, as a precautionary measure, the SCDNR is asking anglers to practice catch and release of all spotted seatrout through the end of September.  To read the full news release click here.

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