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Hilton Head Island (SC) Fishing Report – Updated May 12

  • by Jay

The extreme tides of last week made for some good sight fishing for redfish on the very high tides, and the fish were able to get up in short grass where fiddler crabs roam.   However, Captain Dan “Fishin’ Coach” Utley (843-368-2126) reports that while on tailing tides it was a good time to catch fish, the tides were so strong and the water got so muddy that during the rest of the tide cycle fishing was tough.  This week, though, conditions have been more normal.

Fish are truly in an early summer pattern, and while fish can be caught on the flats they are pretty skittish.  That will change once the large schools of menhaden arrive and dolphins start feeding on menhaden instead of redfish, but for now flats fish are pretty hard to target.

The best pattern is to head to the backs of the smaller creeks on higher stages of the tide as soon as the tide will allow a boat to get back there, and then float cut mullet or mud minnows on a short leader under a cork.  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.  Patience and stealth is required as these fish are in small areas and can be pretty boat-shy.

Around low tide creek fish will be found in bends in the larger creeks that form holes, and particularly around docks and trees that have been washed into the water by erosion.  Cut crabs or shrimp will also pick up black drum.

A nice 28-inch redfish caught on Captain Dan Fishin' Coach's Utley's boat on low water in the back of a creek
A nice 28-inch redfish caught on Captain Dan Fishin’ Coach’s Utley’s boat on low water in the back of a creek

Trout: Coach reports that the trout bite is really turning on, with both tides and weather good for the fishing.  Bait-sized shrimp can be caught in deep holes, and on the incoming mid- to high-tide fish can be caught around points, creek mouths that form points and oyster beds.  Fish the shrimp under a rattling cork and shake the rig to give a lot of action.

Flounder are making up a small by-catch.

Coach is pleased to report that on a recent May Saturday when there would have usually been tons of boats pursuing cobia the Sound was empty, and it seems like people are buying into the idea of leaving the cobia alone as efforts are made to help the population rebound.  It’s obvious that people really want to see this fishery return to its former glory.