Anyone who gets to know Captain Ron Davis, Jr. (803-513-0143) knows that he doesn’t say the fishing is good when it’s not, so around the first of December when Ron said that Edisto Island inshore fishing was at “its absolute peak” it was worth taking note. Amazingly, a month plus later at the beginning of January (!) Ron says that there has been no drop-off in the action and in fact right now might be the best bite of the whole year. Despite a short cold snap the fall feeding spree is stretching into the New Year!
Over Christmas break water temperatures actually increased with all the balmy weather, and creek temperatures eventually hit 72 degrees during the protracted warm spell. With this cold snap Ron says that temperatures will get down to 62-63 degrees, but this is still way above normal for this time of year. Consequently inshore species are feeding heavily, and migratory species have had no reason to leave to eat. Amazingly, as of a day or two ago the creeks were still full of bait-sized shrimp although this cold snap may change that. Being able to throw a net in the creeks for shrimp at the New Year – and not just in deep holes – is “unheard of.”
Although Ron is the first to acknowledge that overall numbers for the Edisto Island redfish fishery are down, particularly on the flats the bite is currently “excellent.” The best fishing is taking place at mid-tides on the IntraCoastal Waterway flats and river flats, and live bait (shrimp and mud minnows), scented soft plastics on a flutter hook, and grubs on a jighead will all catch fish. Creek fishing for reds is good but not quite as strong as on the flats, and the best action has been on low tide in 3-6 feet of water around trees and older docks in the creek bends. Most creek fish are being caught on live bait fished below a cork.
The only redfish fishermen who aren’t particularly happy right now are the sight/ fly fishermen, and instead of the usual crystal clear water at this time of year the water is heavily stained. This is directly and indirectly messing with sight fishing for redfish, as in addition to visibility being much lower than usual in the stained water redfish get much darker than usual and even harder to spot. With visibility often less than a foot sight fishermen who plan an annual trip in December or January will have to change their approach.
Trout fishing is also “excellent” and the best action has been out in the bigger water near shell banks/ oyster points where the ocean is in sight. To the north the mouths of Bohicket Creek, Ocella Creek and Privateer Creek have all been good, and to the south the front of Ash Island, Morgan Island and Hutchinson Creek have been productive. Normally at this time of year trout would have left the main water and headed up into the creeks, but right now there are more fish around oyster points adjacent to the ocean and 30-50 fish days have been common. Anglers are also catching plenty of fish trolling in the backs of the creeks with ¼ ounce jigheads and curly or boot-tailed grubs, but 10-20 fish days are more common in these areas. As temperatures drop the creek action should improve while fish leave the ocean areas.
In addition to trout and redfish, other species are also biting well.
Sheepshead: Good. Because water temperatures are so warm sheepshead remain around older docks and other hard structure with plenty of growth in 6-12 feet of water. Fish can be caught on Carolina rigs with fiddler crabs, clams, or shrimp. Sheepshead should remain in these depths as long as water temperatures remain above 55 degrees, but once they get below that fish will move out to 12-20 feet of water and then offshore. For now about half of the fish are keeper-sized.
Black drum: Good. While there are very strong numbers of black drum on the flats, most of the fish are in the 11-13 inch range. Black drum are crustacean eaters and a few keepers can be caught on shrimp, but most of the fish are juvenile.
Surf: Some relatively small whiting can be caught casting right off the beaches, but slightly offshore ¼ to ½ mile out some very large whiting can be caught in 10-12 feet of water. These fish will be found around the sand bars that line the rivers.
Nearshore: Even though anglers can only keep one there are tons of nice-sized weakfish on the nearshore, hard bottom reefs, and there are also good-sized blue fish in the same areas. For now targeting sheepshead is virtually impossible as 10-11 inch black sea bass will devour as many fiddler crabs as you can drop down, but once it gets colder and the sea bass leave it will be a good time to fish for them.
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