For a while there it looked like winter might never come this year, but cold temperatures in the middle and latter part of January and into February finally brought water temperatures down to more typical winter ranges. Captain Tucker Blythe of Grey Ghost Charters (843-670-8629) reports that when that happened redfish did what they do each winter – grouped up in giant schools on the flats and in the little creeks. While they will eat reds have overall been pretty lethargic, and on a recent trip Tucker hooked a fish which shook its head once and then basically swam to the boat!
There is not much bait around except a few glass minnows and some mud minnows, and as a result fish have had to be pretty opportunistic. They will eat shrimp (obtained by cast netting in deep holes, or buying bait brought up from Florida), as well as mud minnows and cut mud mullet. They will also take paddle tail grubs and Gulp! Baits.
The trout bite has been pretty slow, but some fish fish are being caught by fishing super slowly with suspending baits. Heavy Mirrolures and weighted DOA shrimp that get down have been catching fish at times.
While the inshore fishing is a little slow, perhaps the best bite is for sheepshead out at the nearshore reefs. When water temperatures dropped sheepshead moved out there to spawn, and when you get on the fish you can really wear them out. 30-45 feet of water has been the best depth, but fish can also be caught in 50-60 feet of water. Fiddle crabs work very well, but if you can’t get them oysters and clams are also effective.