It’s a great time to be on the water around Edisto Island, and Captain Ron Davis, Jr. (803-513-0143) reports that fishing in the area is at its absolute peak right now. This has been an extremely mild autumn, and with air temperatures barely having dipped the water is staying warm and prolonging a very strong fall bite.
Probably the best thing going is the trout fishing, and Ron rates the trout bite as “excellent.” For now fish can be caught in both the rivers and the creeks, although fish are starting to the make the transition from the main rivers to smaller creeks. They should be in both areas for at least one more cold front. In the rivers the fishing is better in the South Edisto instead of the North Edisto, where it is still good, and fish are hanging out in slightly deeper places such as white shell banks and points. Fishing on the main rivers has been better on the higher stages of the tide on the last of the incoming and the first of the outgoing, and the best baits have been DOA shrimp under a popping cork as well as grubs on a 1/8 – ¼ ounce jighead. Live shrimp are also great bait but they are getting harder to catch right now.
In addition to the main rivers fish have already moved into the creeks, a trend that will accelerate over the next month as water temperatures get colder. Trout are headed to the very backs and when temperatures bottom out Ron says that pretty much all of the trout will be in the far backs. By the coldest periods all of the trout will be grouped up around deep holes near older docks, behind sunken trees, around riprap and in similar areas with cover and structure – in many of the same areas that redfish will inhabit. Many trout have already moved into these areas and others are on the way, and a good way for people to locate fish is to troll ¼ ounce paddletail grubs and cover a lot of water. Moving from the back out is recommended. Trout are school fish, whether that be schools of 2 or 3, 20 or 30, or more, when you catch one it’s worth stopping and fan casting in the areas.
Beyond trout Ron reports that the bite for several other species is very strong.
Sheepshead: Excellent. The sheepshead bite is wide open, and anglers are catching lots of fish around docks in 9-15 feet of water at low tide and for a couple of hours either side of low. The best set-up is to fish fiddler crabs, clams or oysters 8-12 inches below a ¾ ounce sinker. This bite should stay good until water temperatures get into the lower 50s, when fish will move offshore into 40-60 feet of water to spawn during the dead of winter.
Redfish: Good. A lot of barely keeper-sized fish in the 15-17 inch range are being caught on the flats, as well as some oversized fish. The best time to fish is around mid-tide when oyster bars are covered up, and fish are holding right on top of the oysters near the grass lines. Live shrimp and mud minnows will both work but artificials are also starting to come into play with the bait leaving, and Zman scented plastics on light flutter hooks as well as Gulp! are both working. Up the creeks in the same areas where trout are being caught fishing for reds is also good around deep holes on low tide – fishing on higher stages of the tide is harder like everywhere because redfish head into the grass to feed. Any creek bend with structure such as old docks, sea walls and trees will also hold fish. With the bait stealers leaving shrimp can be fished effectively on the bottom as well as cut mullet, and heavier ¼ ounce jigheads (because you are fishing deeper) with soft plastics will also work.
Flounder have basically left inshore areas but whiting fishing is pretty good around inlets, sandbars and any other areas where something breaks the current.
Nearshore: Summer trout are all over the nearshore reefs, and fish are generally bigger than spotted sea trout with an average size in the 17-18 inch range. Bluefish in the ½ – 2 pound range are also around in good numbers and sea bass are thick at the Edisto 40 and Edisto 60. This time of year there are more keepers.