Normally a staple of inshore fishing in the Hilton Head area, Captain Dan “Fishin’ Coach” Utley (843-368-2126) reports that redfish have actually been a little scarce the past week and a half. All the rain last weekend didn’t help, but even before that fish have been very spooky. They have been running from the boat and have required a very stealthy approach, and even when fish don’t seem to be scared off by the boat a lot of times they will swim by baits and not eat.
A few fish have certainly been caught, and Coach says the best fishing has been around oyster beds on the shallow flats around low tide. They aren’t eating live or cut bait very well but at times they have taken Gulp! shrimp cast into schools. The last of the outgoing has been the best tide.
Some of the fish are way back in the small creeks where they are hard to get to right now, and anglers can basically only fish these areas on the rising tide. On the dropping tide it’s too easy to get stuck. Fish will be found around oyster beds and in pockets and pools, and while not all of the creeks will hold fish some will have good schools. Float cut mullet or mud minnows on a short leader under a cork.
Coach continues to expect that fish will get less skittish once the large schools of menhaden arrive and dolphins start feeding on menhaden instead of redfish.
Trout: Good. Coach reports that the good news is that the trout bite is better than expected, with at least half the fish over 14 inches and some of them up to 21 inches and better. Trout are being caught around oyster bed points near high water, and particularly around points that are located around the intersection of bigger creek mouths and smaller creeks in places that have oyster beds. Fish are being caught on mud minnows fished under a rattling cork by really working the cork and making it rattle, and they are also eating glass minnows.
Trout Tricks have also been working well, with the key being to cast it against the current, let the bait fall to the bottom and then work it back to the boat with the current. Coach has been fishing Trout Tricks in the bends of creeks and in small creek channels by lifting the bait and then letting it fall repeatedly, with the current bringing it back to the boat. As is often the case for trout fishing in clear water is very important, and if a good spot is muddy just move onto the next hole.
There is a decent flounder by-catch while fishing for trout, with most of the fish in the Hilton Head area around 14 inches but some better. Lots of small bluefish are also being caught while fishing for trout.