As used to be typical for May in the Beaufort area, the big story right now involves the inshore cobia fishery. However, while Bay Street Outfitters (843-524-5250) reports that although they have seen early signs of inshore cobia, right now the story isn’t about the fish they are seeing or catching. New regulations concerning the cobia fishery (read the full regs here) limit the number of cobia that can be kept for the SC waters south of Jeremy Inlet, Edisto Island and also impose a catch-and-release fishery for this area during May. This was in response to concerns that the area cobia fishery was plummeting.
Bay Street Outfitters tells anglers that if they choose to target cobia they need to be sure not to overtire the fish, and then release them carefully. Avoid boating the fish and take pictures in the same manner that tarpon are released (from beside the boat), and then resuscitate the fish before releasing them. Hold the fish with a glove or boga grip and allow the fish to swim slowly alongside the idling boat so that water can wash across their gills – remember that gills only work in one direction. When the fish feels strong enough to release do so, and Captain Tuck Scott suggests resuscitating the fish briefly even if it seems as if it may not need it.
Redfish: Fair to good. Bay Street Outfitters reports that redfish are tailing well in the grass, particularly on good size tides. The best tides are high enough for fish to get up in the short grass, but not super high floods. The water has been fairly dirty which is adversely affecting the sight-fishing and contributes to the lower rating range (fair), and as a result the best artificial lures and flies have both been dark-colored lures and patterns that create a good profile. Mud minnows are also working well. On early morning low tides fish have been schooled up well on mud flats and eating, and on the dropping tide they are also feeding well when water is coming out of grass at the mouths of creeks. They will seek out slack ambush spots where they don’t have to expend much energy.
Trout: Good. Bay Street Outfitters reports that the trout population is strong, which makes sense since there have been a number of relatively mild winters in recent years. The best tide has been the outgoing tide as long as it is not huge, and fish are feeding around creek mouths and oyster shell bars. Unlike redfish they don’t mind swift water. Jigheads with Gulp! or other grub bodies (such as swim mullet or paddletails) are working, and fish are also being caught on mud minnows or scented soft plastics under a popping cork. There are also trout being caught on topwater lures such as Zara Spooks and Mirrolures at light “transition periods” – early and late.
A few tripletail have been seen but numbers will rise as it gets warmer, and there is plenty of bait around including mullet, fiddler crabs, mud crabs and blue crabs.