Saltwater Fishing Trends - November 10, 2017
Get specific tide information for various SC stations from NOAA
Information on fishing trends provided courtesy of www.anglersheadquarters.com/, 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.
Charleston (Updated November 10)
Inshore water temperatures in the Charleston area remain mild, and as a result the inshore fishing is still phenomenal.
Captain Rob Bennett of Lowcountry Inshore Charters (843-367-3777) reports that his boat is finding some of the best trout and redfish angling in recent memory, and in a recent 4-hour trip they caught 70 trout and 40 redfish! In the next couple of weeks the shrimp are likely to head out, and then you will have to buy shrimp or fish artificials (DOA, Vudu, Gulp!, Trout Tricks, etc.).
But for now it is hard to go wrong with a freshly netted live shrimp fished under a popping cork across oysters right next to grass. This pattern is excellent on both the incoming and the outgoing tide, and Rob has found trout and reds in the same types of areas – although generally not mixed together.
The next move for redfish will be ganging up on the flats as the water clears, and then it will be sight-fishing time. Trout fishing will get tougher but fish will likely group up in deeper holes.
Sheepshead fishing has also been very good, and for now fish have not moved to the reefs yet and can still be found around inshore pilings and rocks. Fiddler crabs are the obvious bait although a number of other baits will also work.
Just off the beaches false albacore are around, and they can be caught on small bucktails, Gotcha plugs and Clarks Spoons. Anglers looking for a real treat can target them on the fly.
At the nearshore reefs summer trout are thick as are bull red drum. There are also some tripletail still around.
King mackerel fishing has also been phenomenal, and the end of October and all of November are often the best period to target them in 60-90 feet of water. You can slow troll live bait for them, and if you are over live bottom or a reef be sure to put out a bait for a king.
North Grand Strand (Updated November 9)
Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand have dropped into the mid-60s. Without a doubt this is the best time of the year to fish the Little River area, and Captain Patrick "Smiley" Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that the big pre-winter feed is in full swing.
The trout bite is as good as it gets, and some nice fish in the 3 plus pound range have been caught recently. Trout are holding on ledges and drops in 6-8 feet of water, and the tide doesn't seem to make a big difference as long as it's moving. Live shrimp, Vudu Shrimp, Trout Tricks and ZMan baits have all been working.
Redfish are also on the move and feeding, and lots of fish in the 15-30 inch range are being caught. Reds can be found anywhere from the flats to drop offs to deep holes, and the area you want to fish is dependent on the tide. There are also a good number of slot-sized fish being caught around the jetties, although the bigger bull drum are phasing out.
Despite it being almost the middle of November some really nice flounder are still being caught, and in the recent Captain Smiley Inshore Slam out of Cricket Cove Marina on Saturday there were a couple of five plus pound fish brought to the scales. The best action has been around lower tide in deeper holes inside the creeks, and both finger mullet and Gulp! baits have been working.
Sheepshead are plentiful for anglers who target them, and there are even some sheeps being caught on Captain Smiley's boat on live shrimp in the shallows.
Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that fishing has slowed in the surf zone, and the catch now is limited to some whiting, croaker, spots, small flounder, and occasional redfish.
Captain Smiley reports that the first annual tournament was a big success with 46 boats, and he would like to thank all the sponsors as well as the winners – particularly the overall winner Clay Morphis on the boat Pork Chop. A 5.40 pound flounder and a 4.74 pound speckled sea trout anchored his 12.56 pound slam.
Southern Grand Strand (Updated November 10)
Water temperatures in the Murrells Inlet area are still pretty warm at about 69 degrees.
Captain J of Fishful Thinking Guide Service (843-902-0356) is not one to exaggerate, and so when he says the fishing is really good it's worth listening.
Inshore Captain J advises that because water temperatures have stayed very warm late into the season the pinfish are still around, and while that can make live shrimp fishing a little tough there are so many trout feeding that the bite is really good. Floating live shrimp for the last couple of hours of the incoming has been really good, and artificial lures have also been productive.
Redfish are also doing very well, and Captain J. reports that he is catching them best on both sides of low tide. They are always around live or dead oyster shells, and over live oysters he will float baits under a cork and over dead shells he will use a Carolina rig. There are still some mullet around and on warm days they are on the surface. If you can't find them then shrimp will also work very well.
Inside the creeks and at the tips of the jetties black drum are feeding well, and Captain J likes to find rougher conditions with dirtier water to fish for them. Shrimp on the bottom as well under floats will catch black drum, and they can be literally anywhere. Like live pigs they will travel to eat and fish will move from sand to shells to grass lines to feed.
Flounder are also still around.
At the tips of the jetties and along rocks piles off the beach some big 40-50 pound bull red drum can still be caught.
Nearshore, the king mackerel fishing is the best that Captain J can remember. The fish are so thick that he has only been able to troll two lines with cigar minnows! They have been catching mostly teenage-sized fish, but there are also some 30+ pounders mixed in. Belkie Bear and live bottom areas with about 50 feet of water have been most productive.
Beaufort (Updated November 10)
Inshore water temperatures in the Beaufort area are around 68 degrees, and clarity varies greatly from spot to spot.
The redfish bite in the Beaufort area is as good as it gets, and Captain Tuck Scott of Bay Street Outfitters (843-524-5250) reports that on low tide the fish are chasing shrimp. Even though earlier in the fall finger mullet were working best, from a bait stand point shrimp is now the key. On the low tide mud flats you can also cast to fish with most any artificial shrimp in whatever color. Shrimp or fly patterns on the fly also work.
Fish are also tailing in the grass, but this late in the season they are cruising more than tailing really hard and so a less weighted fly is a good bet. Crab patterns, Dupre Spoon flies, and baitfish patterns are all working. You don't want something that sinks fast, and tailing fish are also a little more wary than 6 months ago since they have gotten “educated.”
On middle tides where you can't sight cast or fish for tailing reds, most anywhere you have previously caught fish where there is tide moving across a shell bar will probably produce. Shrimp under a popping cork are hard to beat on both the incoming and outgoing.
Trout are also doing really well, and the best bite is in 3-4 feet of water off the bank a little ways where there are shells that stick out. Shrimp under a popping cork or jighead/ grub combinations will both catch fish. Either way action is important – on a popping cork pop it more than you would for reds, and with a jig give it strong bumps so it will lift and fall.
There are still some tripletail around, and they are mostly getting spotted on low tide close to the ocean.
Edisto Island (Updated November 10)
Inshore water temperatures around Edisto Island are still in the mid- to upper-60s, and the best fishing of the year is here. With fish hungry, mild water temperatures, and plenty of shrimp around this is literally perfect fishing conditions.
Captain Ron Davis, Jr. (843-513-0143) does not rate the redfish bite on the flats as excellent simply because of the size of the population, but the fish that are there are biting well and most of the fish are in a nice 15-17 inch range with a few oversized reds mixed in. Flats fish are biting best on the mid-tide coming out of the grass, and they are in areas with lots of live oysters usually at the mouth of small feeder creeks. With tons of shrimp around live shrimp two feet under a cork are the best bet.
In the creeks the bite is better and there is more of a mix of fish, with plenty of small, medium, and large fish including plenty over and under the slot. The best bet is fishing 2-3 hours either side of low tide around trees, rocks and docks.
The trout bite is excellent, and Ron considers it the best in 10 years. 50-75 fish days are average, and his boat has had several 100 plus fish trips.
On main river, white shell points the best bet is fishing live shrimp 3-5 feet under a cork – or DOA shrimp the same way. When conditions are clear for Edisto (18 plus inches of visibility) then curly tail grubs and Trout Tricks fished on a 1/8 – ¼ ounce jighead will also work.
In the creeks trout are biting well on the first of the incoming tide, and trolling with curly or boot-tail grubs will both work. Fish can also be caught in deep bends/ holes in the back third of creeks at low tide. For these fish a live shrimp 6-8 feet under a slip cork is the best bet, and you can also a bounce a shrimp rigged on a ¼ ounce jighead through the tail on the bottom.
Flounder fishing has dropped off after the last cold front, but sheepshead fishing has been phenomenal. Docks with 5-10 feet of water at low tide are producing for a couple of hours each side of low. Use fiddler crabs.
Plenty of big whiting are around, with the biggest ones around the cuts and bars as in April and May. They are also on the nearshore reefs.
The reefs are loaded up with black drum, weakfish, and redfish of a mix of sizes. There are also 1-4 pound bluefish around as well as ladyfish that will leave at the next cold front. You can either fish a live shrimp to catch a mix of species, or bounce a ¾ to 1 ounce spoon on the bottom. With fiddler crabs you will also catch sheepshead and black drum.
Offshore the wahoo bite has been strong with several boats catching 5 fish per day as well as some blackfin tuna. With water temperatures still around 78 degrees at the ledge it will be a while before offshore fishing gets tough.
Hilton Head (Updated November 10)
Inshore water temperatures in the Hilton Head area are down to the mid-60s.
The trout fishing in the Hilton Head area isn't a little "off" anymore, and Captain Dan "Fishin' Coach" Utley (843-368-2126) reports that they are biting artificials as well as live shrimp very well. Look for any moving water around oyster beds, creek mouths, and points. On the high outgoing last week Coach's boat caught a fish on every cast for 25 casts(!), but other tides have been good too. His boat has done best near big rivers but other areas will also work.
Live shrimp are hard to beat, and a variety of artificials are also productive. Color does not seem to matter. You can also catch fish on topwaters late in the afternoon – look for areas where fish are blowing up glass minnows or other baitfish around points.
The redfish bite is also red hot, and they are feeding on high water around grass lines. You can also catch fish back in the smaller creeks around oyster beds on both moving tides, and fish can also be caught in feeder creeks around bends, docks and trees. Live shrimp, mud minnows and cut mullet are all working around the grass lines, and while there are still shrimp around they aren't present in the numbers they were a week or two ago. Soon you will need to net deep holes to catch live shrimp.
Artificials are also working really well, and fish are so aggressive that this week Coach hooked a two-pound red on a white Gulp! bait. Four bigger reds chased him and eventually pulled the bait out of his mouth! It is definitely the time to fish the Low Country.