Saltwater Fishing Trends - April 26, 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 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.

Update to Cobia Regulations (effective May 1, 2016)

Closed Season

  • May 1 - May 31. Catch and release only in SC waters south of 032 31.0' N latitude (Jeremy Inlet, Edisto Island).
  • June 20, 2016 – December 31, 2016. Fishery closed in state and federal waters.

Bag Limit

  • 1 per person, per day, and no more than 3 per boat per day. Applies only in SC waters south of 032 31.0' N latitude (Jeremy Inlet, Edisto Island)
  • 2 per person per day (Federal waters and all other SC state waters)

Charleston (Updated April 26)

Inshore fishing in the Charleston area has been pretty good for trout and flounder in the rivers, and there have been plenty of red drum caught at the jetties and in Dynamite Hole. But Captain Rob Bennett of Lowcountry Inshore Charters (843-367-3777) reports that the most exciting bite right now can be found out at the nearshore reefs, where he has been catching gigantic bluefish up to 10-15 pounds. He has not seen bluefish this big in South Carolina in about 30 years!

For smaller bluefish (and Spanish mackerel) in the 1-5 pound range trolling with Yozuri plugs and spoons will catch fish, but for the biggest bluefish the key is to put out a live menhaden on the bottom. A wire leader is necessary as well as about a two ounce weight to keep the bait on the bottom where the big blues are swimming. These big fish jump like largemouth bass and make runs that you wouldn’t believe.

At the reefs they are starting to see some jellyballs, so the spadefish shouldn’t be too far behind. There are also a lot of summer trout out there, but remember that you can only keep one per person over 14 inches.

Offshore the dolphin run should be hot for about the next month.

Little River/North Myrtle Beach (Updated April 23)

Inshore water temperatures are ranging from about 68-70 degrees in the Little River area. Water clarity has been pretty good, but with the big rain this morning visibility has declined.

It's been a good month for fishing in the Little River area, and Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that inshore fishing has been pretty consistent with a little bit of everything biting right now.

Trout have been hitting well on Vudu Shrimp and Gulp! Shrimp fished under popping corks, and topwater plugs and Mirrolures have also been working well. Fish are mostly being caught along ledges and drop-offs in the ICW where the depth goes from about 5 feet down to 13, and the best bite for trout (like most species) has come on the incoming tide. Most of the trout being caught have been keeper-sized.

This spring the redfish population seems to have rebounded from last year, and while Captain Smiley's boat is not catching a lot of big fish they are catching plenty of 17-20 inch redfish. The fish are biting around oyster beds and docks, with the best success coming with mud minnows or Gulp! Shrimp fished on a ¼ ounce jighead. Again the rising tide has been best.

The black drum fishery is also strong, and black drum are biting well on cut shrimp fished around bulkheads, docks and deep holes with oyster bottoms.

There has been a very good run of bluefish so far this spring, and lots of 18-inch fish as well as some random, very large fish up to 10 pounds or more have been caught inshore. They will eat topwater plugs, live bait and most anything that moves. Inshore fish have been caught on the outgoing tide around deeper holes where water runs across shell beds, and they are also in the Little River Inlet around the jetties.

Flounder traditionally move into all the other inlets along the Grand Strand (Murrells Inlet, behind Pawley's, Tubbs, etc.) before they migrate back into Little River Inlet, and this year appears to be no exception. Already they are catching lots of short 12-inch fish as well as some occasional 15 inchers, but the better flounder on up to doormat size have certainly not shown up yet.

Beaufort (Updated April 26)

Inshore water temperatures in the Beaufort area are around 75 degrees and the water clarity has decreased.

Water temperatures are well ahead of schedule this year in the Beaufort area, and as a result Captain Tuck Scott of Bay Street Outfitters (843-524-5250) reports that redfish schools have already broken up into smaller groups and fish have been tailing in the grass for some time. On the outgoing tide fish can be caught when water is almost out of the grass around shell and grass points where the bait is getting condensed. There are plenty of shrimp around and so that is probably the best bait, and on the artificial side Gulp! baits are also working. With water conditions less clear than a few weeks ago darker colors such as purples, blacks, blues and browns are working best. On the fly zonker patterns, any crab pattern and shrimp patterns are all doing well.

The trout bite has been pretty good around faster moving water which is coming out of creeks mouths and over oyster bars. The best fishing has been in about 3 ½ to 4 feet of water, and it should stay that way until water temperatures get very hot. Bait under a popping cork or dark colored Gulp! baits will both work.

A few early cobia have been seen inside but that season is closed to harvest this year.

Edisto Island (Updated February 1)

Captain Ron Davis Jr. (843-513-0143) reports that Edisto Island-area water temperatures remain above normal in the mid-50s, and clarity is still excellent.

The redfish bite remains strong in the creeks around downed trees, rock walls, and older docks. The bottom six hours of the tide are still much better than higher stages, and mud minnows, cut mullet, and cut shrimp fished on a Carolina rig will all catch fish. On the flats when you can locate reds without spooking them they will take Gulp!, scented Zman soft plastics as well as mud minnows fished on a very light 1/16th ounce jighead.

The trout bite has died almost to nothing, and whereas a couple of weeks ago there was a decent bite in the creeks it is now pretty much only small trout biting with very few keepers finding their way into boats. In a good day of fishing in the creek anglers would do very well to catch five or more trout, and the bite on the main river is almost nonexistent.

Sheepshead fishing remains good around deeper pilings that have more than 10 feet of water at low tide. While the fish will eat fiddler crabs, they will inhale dime-sized pieces of clam and oysters which are much easier to catch them on. Since bait-stealers aren't really around there's nothing to stop anglers from fishing this way.

At the nearshore reefs sheepshead fishing is also good, and there are also big schools of 1-3 pound bluefish along with false albacore. Oversized red drum in the 25-35 inch range are also around on calm days when you can get offshore, and black drum are mixed in with the reds. For sheepshead and black drum fiddler crabs and shrimp will work, reds will take cut mullet, and bluefish and false albacore will chase 1/4 - 1/2 ounce jigging spoons.

Greater Murrells Inlet (Updated April 26)

Inshore fishing is the Murrells Inlet area is still day-to-day, and Captain J of Fishful Thinking Guide Service (843-902-0356) reports that a couple of weeks ago he was wearing out the flounder. Then it got tough, which is not unusual in the spring when fish are starting to make their annual migration northward. There have also been some good trout and redfish caught inshore sporadically.

However, the most exciting bite has been the king mackerel fishing, and the kings are really thick from the beaches out to about 40-50 feet of water. Trolling dead cigar minnows is the best way to catch them, and there are also starting to be some menhaden around – which means cobia aren’t far behind. All cobia are catch and release this year.

At the nearshore reefs such as the 3 Mile Reef and the Pawley’s Island Reef, in to the jetties, Spanish and bluefish are pretty thick. They can be caught casting or trolling small spoons on a #1 planer.

Hilton Head (Updated March 31)

Hilton Head inshore water temperatures are in the upper 60s, and clarity has been variant.

It's a tale of two weeks for inshore fishing in the Hilton Head Island area, and last week Captain Dan "Fishin' Coach" Utley (843-368-2126) reports that tides were moderate and water conditions were clearer than they had been all winter (this year it never really got gin clear). The fish bit very well, particularly on the dropping tide.

This week there were some very high tides, the water muddied up, and the bite significantly fell off. Coach said they felt lucky to catch a couple of redfish each day, and with muddy water fish just seemed to feed less. There were some very small windows of feeding activity but the tide was ripping so hard that fish wouldn't set up in one place long before they moved on. Since it's not really warm enough for good tailing action yet, the best bite they found this week was at stages of the incoming or outgoing tide when they could fish in clear pockets in the grass that might also have some oyster shells. Cut mullet under a rattling cork worked best.

Next week there will be a return to more normal tides, and Coach hopes that once again they will find fast action on the dropping tide. The prime time was about two and a half hours after low tide to one hour before the bottom, and they were also catching some fish casting to schools around low tide. Because the fishes' metabolism is speeding up you don't get many tries, but throwing a ¼ ounce jighead/ Gulp! bait around little creek channels between oyster beds on the flats was working. They were also catching some fish in creek bends with deeper water and structure such as a tree fallen into the water. Slip corks that held a bait 9-12 feet deep were working well.

Unsurprisingly, the trout bite was almost non-existent this week, even with live shrimp fished around points with moving water. The water has simply gotten too muddy. Last week they were also catching some trout in smaller creeks that drained the marsh, and it is hoped that the same patterns will return next week.