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Hilton Head (SC) Fishing Report – Updated March 2

  • by Jay

Until recently there haven’t been a whole lot of pleasant weather days to target redfish in the Hilton Head area, but Captain Dan “Fishin’ Coach” Utley (843-368-2126) reports that when conditions have been good enough to get out the fishing has been strong.  Redfish are grouped up in their big wintertime schools, and on higher stages of the tide anglers can catch them up in the grass and in oyster beds in and around the grass.  Using a mud minnow under a rattling cork has worked well, and casting ¼ ounce jigheads rigged with Gulp! shrimp has also worked.  If you move the jig it will get hung up, and so dead sticking it and waiting for a bite has been the key.  If there is no bite in a minute or two reel in, re-cast, and repeat.

The high outgoing tide has probably been the best, but on middle stages of the tide (particularly the mid-outgoing) fish are grouped up along shell rakes in the rivers.  The sight of dolphin patrolling is a dead giveaway that redfish are in the area.  It is important to present the bait in front of the fish, let the fish swim towards it, and then present it on short hops when the fish get close.  The jighead/ Gulp! combination has been the best. Note: Coach says reds will still feed even with dolphins in the vicinity.

On low tide it is possible to see a ton of fish on the flats, but catching them has been next to impossible.  The fish usually just won’t let anglers get close enough to cast at them as they are very skittish on low water.

A healthy red caught on a pretty day off Coach's boat
A healthy red caught on a pretty day off Coach’s boat

Relatively few anglers have been targeting trout recently, but Coach says there have been reports of fish caught in 12-14 feet of water in deep holes.  Anglers have been casting Trout Tricks, letting them fall and then hopping them very slowly in deep water, and fish have also been caught on slip corks floating mud minnows across deep holes.  With March having arrived and water temperatures rising the bite should get better and better.  Water temperatures have been around 58 recently, but when they hit the low 60s the trout bite should really come on.

While a number of sheepshead are offshore at the nearshore wrecks and reefs, anglers are also catching them inshore around bigger docks in the rivers.  The best tactic has been scraping off some oysters and barnacles to chum for them and then fishing fiddler crabs vertically on a Carolina rig.