Last month Captain Ron Davis, Jr. (803-513-0143) reported that inshore fishing for redfish and trout was off, but this month he is pleased to report that there has been improvement. He now rates the redfish bite as “good” and says that on the flats redfish can be caught fishing live shrimp about 18 inches under a popping cork. The middle stages of the tide have been best, both on the outgoing and incoming. There are lots of juvenile fish in the 11-14 inch range around, which should be a good sign for coming years – although Ron points out that he’s been thinking that for the last few years. The numbers of fish that previously did haven’t been reaching maturity in the area the last three or so years, but maybe that will change.
Creek fishing for redfish has also significantly improved, and at low tide deep bends with structure – such as older docks, sea walls, rip rap, and downed trees – have all been producing. Again, there are lots of small fish as well as plenty of slot-sized reds and some over 23 inches. While shrimp will certainly catch creek redfish, there are so many bait stealers such as pinfish that they are virtually unfishable. Accordingly, Ron suggests live finger mullet or live menhaden, and notes that right now the creeks are full of both as well as shrimp.
Beyond redfish, Ron reports that it’s great time to catch a number of other species in the Edisto area:
Tarpon: Excellent. Ron reports that at the mouths of major creeks, and at the mouths of the rivers, more tarpon are being seen and caught (or at least hooked) than in a long time. Live menhaden either free-lined or fished under a float have been the best bait, and when the fish are seen rolling it’s not too hard to get them to eat a bait. Actually landing the fish is another matter! At the mouths of creeks the best time to catch fish has been the high outgoing tide, but at the river mouths/ sand bars tide is not as important a consideration as making sure that you are fishing in a hard rip line where bait is being washed.
Spanish mackerel and bluefish: Excellent. Schools of Spanish mackerel, as well as blues, are running the beaches and very catchable. When it’s not possible to cast into the fish, trolling a Clarks’ spoon behind a 2-4 ounce in-line sinker has been very productive.
Sheepshead: Excellent. Ron reports that it has been a great year for sheepshead, and as is characteristic in the warmer months about ½ the fish under-sized. Numbers are very good and catching 20-25 fish on a low tide cycle is possible or even likely. The best bet is fishing dock pilings in the creeks on low tide; target docks in 5-10 feet of water. Because of the presence of bait stealers using fiddler crabs is essential right now.
Trout: Good. While a lot of the fish are undersized, numbers of trout have picked up substantially and overall the bite is pretty strong. Ron suggests fishing a live shrimp 3-5 feet under a popping cork on high tide along the main river banks as well as at the mouths of creeks. Fish will bite about for about 2 hours each side of high tide because of the presence of cleaner water – with lots of rain in the last week this is particularly important right now.
Flounder: Fair. There is a decent inshore bite for flounder, but this is mainly as a by-catch while targeting other species. However, at the nearshore reefs pretty good numbers of flounder have been caught which is typical in the hot months. Finger mullet on a Carolina rig have been the best bet.
Other: Ron reports that whiting can be caught with live shrimp on the bottom around the sand bars that line both rivers. Additionally, bonnethead sharks are being caught on shrimp fished around the banks and there are plenty of 3-5 foot blacktips around. Some anglers are targeting them by running behind the shrimp boats and fishing behind the nets – if you do this be sure to stay well off the nets to avoid hooking them!