Saltwater Fishing Trends - December 21, 2017

Fishing Off shore

Popular Marine Species

South Carolina marine recreational fishing regulations

Get specific tide information for various SC stations from NOAA

Information on fishing trends provided courtesy of, South Carolina's premier fishing report source. Customers of the Angler's Headquarters online tackle store have access to daily updates and full-length reports on its site.

Update to Flounder Regulations
(effective July 1, 2017)

On July 1, 2017, legislation recently passed by the South Carolina General Assembly will increase the size limit and lower the bag and boat limits for southern, summer, and Gulf flounder in state waters.

Minimum Legal Size

  • 15 inches (total length)

Bag Limit

  • 10 per person, per day, and no more than 20 per boat per day.

Charleston (Updated December 19)

Inshore water temperatures in the Charleston area are around 54-55 degrees, and clarity is very good.

Captain Rob Bennett of Lowcountry Inshore Charters (843-367-3777) reports no major changes in the inshore bite this week, but they continue to have good trout catches in a little bit deeper areas.

The redfish schools continue to get larger with the pattern about the same. Low tide sight casting remains the most productive pattern.

North Grand Strand (Updated December 19)

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand have dropped to around 47 degrees, and with gin clear water, mild conditions and a still-very strong bite it can be one of the most satisfying times of the year to fish around Little River.

The inshore redfish bite has been strong for nice fish on the smaller end of the slot, and Captain Patrick "Smiley" Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that his boat has been catching a lot of 15-18 inch fish. Chiefly they are catching them in shallow water 2-3 feet deep for a couple of hours each side of low tide. Gulp! as well as cut shrimp on a ¼ ounce jighead have both been working well. The bigger redfish can still be found in the Inlet around the jetties, but with such a good bite inshore it's been hard to leave.

The trout bite is still excellent, and on moving tides around ledges in 6-8 feet of water Patrick's boat has been catching impressive numbers of trout (as well as some very nice ones) on live shrimp, Vudu Shrimp, and Mirrolures.

Black drum have also been caught on the same pattern as the trout with either live or cut shrimp.

Southern Grand Strand (Updated December 21)

Water temperatures in the Murrells Inlet area remain in the mid- to lower-50s and conditions are clearing nicely.

The inshore bite for black drum and redfish is still pretty good around the rocks, and trout are still biting inside the Inlet on both live bait and artificials. However, Captain J of Fishful Thinking Guide Service (843-902-0356) reports he has been heading offshore when conditions allowed, and earlier this week he caught three wahoo, six blackfin tuna, and a few king mackerel in the Gulf Stream. There is also some pretty good black sea bass fishing about 15 miles offshore.

Beaufort (Updated December 19)

Inshore water temperatures in the Beaufort area are around 50 degrees, and the water has gotten super clear.

The weather has turned around in the Beaufort area, and as a result Captain Tuck Scott of Bay Street Outfitters (843-524-5250) reports that fishing conditions have been excellent. Redfish are mostly grouped up in big schools on the flats, and at low tide sight-fishing has been excellent in the super clear water around oyster bars. Fish have been very willing to take both flies and conventional artificial lures.

Surprisingly, trout have also been up on the flats in very shallow water. They have been eating small shrimp fly patterns extremely well.

Edisto Island (Updated December 20)

Inshore water temperatures around Edisto Island remain about 54-55 degrees and the water is clear.

As predicted, Captain Ron Davis Jr. (843-513-0143) reports that the inshore fishing around Edisto has stayed very good for redfish and trout. There are no major changes to report, but if anything the sheepshead fishing has improved with some very large fish still inshore. They are being caught on clams, barnacles, and oysters in 6-12 feet, and of course they will still take fiddler crabs.

In calm conditions Ron has also been able to get just off the beach to the rocks off Edisto, and in about 22 feet of water they have found some bull red drum in the 30-35 pound range. Bait does not matter very much and they caught these fish on bucktails with cut squid trailers. The weakfish are pretty much gone.

Hilton Head (Updated December 20)

Inshore water temperatures in the Hilton Head area are in the low to mid-50s. Clarity is good.

With a week of favorable fishing conditions Captain Dan "Fishin' Coach" Utley (843-368-2126) has been able to get out on the water more often, and he reports that they seem to be very hungry. Recently the redfish have been very aggressive, and while they are not everywhere when you do locate them they are in large groups and very easy to catch. They will take a ¼ ounce jighead with Gulp!, either dead sticked (around grass) or pulled towards the school when there is less risk of getting hung up.

Interestingly, the most productive stage of the tide has been the flood when the water is up in the grass. Fish have been along the edge of major rivers like the Chechessee around shell rakes and oyster bar points. With the water fairly clear it's not hard to spot the fish.

At this time of year the fish don't seem to travel too far, and while they seem to be on a high tide feeding pattern right now they will generally be in the same areas on low tide. Coach expects this pattern to hold up for a while.

The trout also seem to have gotten into a fairly consistent pattern, and they seem to have headed towards deeper water. On low tide the trout can be found back in deeper holes at the bends of major creeks with 12-15 feet of water, particularly if there is some structure like fallen trees. Moving tides are best.

Coach has had success with both live bait and artificials. On one recent trip he caught about a dozen good fish on live shrimp in a hole, then had to switch over to jigheads with white Gulp! grubs when he ran out of bait. For the next fifteen minutes he caught a fish on every cast, and they were bigger than the ones that had been eating the shrimp. It seems that at least some of the time the trout are in big schools when you find them.