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Beaufort/ Hilton Head Fishing News and Report (Updated August 14)

  • by Jay

With water temperatures usually as high as they will get all year, August can be a tough time to fish in South Carolina.  Luckily for Beaufort-area fishermen, however, even though it’s hot redfish are still feeding very well.  In fact, Bay Street Outfitters (843-524-5250) in Beaufort reports that tailing activity on the flood tide has been very good, and they do not remember a summer month in the past where tailing activity has been as good as it has been over the last month or two.  As far as locations fish will be found tailing anywhere that there is short grass, and right now they are also being caught in areas that have mid-level grass.

As could be expected with the heat and such a strong high tide bite, for low tide sight fishing spottails have often been a bit lethargic.  However, on the dropping tide a popping cork with a live shrimp has been productive at times, with cut mullet a close second.  Bay Street Outfitters reports that mud minnows have not been very productive and as a bait choice are coming in a distant third.   Note that it seems to be a very good year for inshore shrimp, probably because there has been so much rain.

For finicky low tide fish the best spots have been closer to open water where temperatures are a bit cooler, and reds will be found on mud flats around the edges.  Along the same lines, on low tides earlier in the day fishing has been much stronger than on later lows as redfish are more likely to chase shrimp in the cooler water.  When low tides were falling first thing Captain Tuck Scott saw 17 redfish with their backs out of the water one morning, but as low tides got later and hotter that number plummeted.

A beautiful redfish caught on the fly on Captain Tuck Scott's boat
A beautiful redfish caught on the fly on Captain Tuck Scott’s boat

Beyond redfish the Beaufort inshore bite for several other species has been pretty good.  Bay Street Outfitters reports that after some of the heavier rains when water temperatures have cooled off a bit some pretty good numbers of trout have been caught on the incoming tide.  Live shrimp fished over shell points were the ticket.  Some big tarpon are also certainly around, and the best place to look is at the mouths of sandbars with menhaden the best bait.  Ladyfish and jacks can also be found busting in the rivers and all over, and anglers should particularly look for them around bridges and sandbars.

Notably, the tripletail population is also significant enough to mention and captains advise that it is worth standing up in the boat while running to look for them.  While there are not a ton of tripletails laying on top there are a good many.   In the live bait category they will take shrimp, mud minnows and crabs, but if you a spot a tripletail and don’t have any live bait easily accessible then they will take a jighead with Gulp! as well as a variety of other artificials that aren’t too large.  On the fly they like crab patterns.

Down in Hilton Head Captain Dan “Fishin’ Coach” Utley (843-368-2126) reports that there are plenty of bait shrimp in the creeks that anglers can fish with.  Recently redfish have been holding back in the creeks in a couple of feet of water around oyster beds, and cut mullet fished under a rattling cork is producing fish in the 13-30 inch range.  Coach also reports seeing tarpon feeding on mullet around the major creek mouths emptying in the Chechessee River, and on the other end of the spectrum small spotted sea trout have been hitting mud minnows under a rattling cork on high water.  They will also take shrimp.

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