Saltwater Fishing Trends - October 19, 2018

Fishing Off shore

Popular Marine Species

South Carolina marine recreational fishing regulations

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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.


SCDNR urging catch and release to help spotted seatrout recover

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Update to Red Drum Regulations (effective July 1, 2018)

Red Drum

The South Carolina General Assembly has passed a new law intended to reverse Red Drum overfishing. The lowered bag limit allows two fish per person per day and no more than six fish per boat per day. The previous catch limit was three fish per person per day, with no boat limit. The slot limit (15-23 inches) remains unchanged.

Slot Limit:

  • 15-23 inches (total length)

Bag Limit:

  • 2 per person per day, and no more than 6 per boat per day

Learn More About Red Drum

North Grand Strand (Updated October 19)

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand are in the mid-70s, and the water is starting to clean up after the hurricane. There are very few shrimp in the creeks after the storm flushed them out.

With two major storms it's been a wild start to the fall in the Little River area, but Captain Patrick "Smiley" Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that as the water moves from heavily stained to clearer the fishing continues to be good.
The biggest change since last report is that the bull red drum in the 35-45-inch range are showing up in the inlet. They can be caught around the jetties in 20-35 feet of water. This is strictly a catch-and-release fishery, and the tackle of choice is live or cut mullet on a Carolina rig with a 2-ounce sinker and a 6/0 circle hook. 

Inshore there are plenty of smaller reds to be caught in the creeks, and they have been biting Gulp! shrimp, live finger mullet and shrimp. Fish are holding shallow around the grass and oyster beds, and the incoming tide has been the best recently. 

Black drum can be caught in holes and around oyster beds on live shrimp. The low to rising tide has been best. 

The trout bite has been pretty good recently. Fish can be caught on topwater lures, and they can also be caught in the Intracoastal around ledges and drops in about 10 feet of water. Live shrimp under a popping cork are hard to beat. 
Captain Smiley’s boats are also picking up some flounder here and there.
Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that pier fishing has been excellent recently, and just this Monday 11king mackerel were caught off the pier. They have also caught some nice 19-20-inch Spanish mackerel as well as flounder in the same size range. Slot-sized redfish have been coming off the pier as well as a bunch of (mostly undersized) trout. There are of course whiting, pinfish, and some spot around. 

Southern Grand Strand (Updated October 19)

Inshore water temperatures are still unseasonably warm in the mid- to upper-70s along the Grand Strand, and the water is very stained. 

October is usually a peak time to fish the South Grand Strand, and Captain J. Baisch of Fishful Thinking Guide Service (843-902-0356) and Baisch Boys Bait and Tackle (843-651-1915) reports that this month is no exception. Despite the dirty water, and spotty catches of shrimp for bait, they are still catching tons of fish. 

Inshore smaller "rat" redfish are really thick, and with so much rainwater coming up from Georgetown Captain J wonders if those fish have pushed up to Pawley’s and Murrells Inlet. 

The flounder fishing has also been really good, and right now fish can be caught anywhere along the beach where there is some structure to create an ambush point for the fish, such as the groins at Garden City. The mullet run is underway, and mullet generally swim near the surface. Flounder don’t want to come more than about three feet off the bottom to attack a bait, and so you need to fish fairly shallow.

There has also been some good trout action floating live shrimp at the jetties.
In the surf pompano fishing has been excellent. There are not a lot of sand fleas around right now, but salted clam available at the store has been working well.
The most exciting bite going, however, has been for king mackerel. There are schools of big kings in the 20- to 40-pound range right off the beach and trolling off Garden City and Surfside has led to some excellent catches. Tarpon have been mixed in and it has been some really fun fishing. 

Bull red drum in the 20- to 40-pound range can be caught around rock piles on cut bait. 

Charleston (Updated October 19)

Inshore temperatures in the Charleston area are in the mid to upper-70s. 
As of earlier this week inshore fishing in the Charleston area could not really be described as in fall fishing mode, but with the cold snap the last couple of days it is finally getting there. David Fladd with Eye Strike Fishing reports that while redfish have been biting well they are have been hanging around grass edges, flats and structure in pretty typical summertime behavior patterns. Small reds are prolific, and they have also caught some slot-sized redfish on topwaters.  

In the Isle of Palms area David reports that there don’t seem to be a ton of trout around, and it could be that fish in the shallow areas off and around the ICW fared worse than fish in deeper rivers like the Cooper and Wando. However, Captain Rob Bennett of Lowcountry Inshore Charters (843-367-3777) reports that to the south of Charleston they are catching a lot of trout on live shrimp fished under popping corks along the grass. He is having no trouble catching bait shrimp at low tide. 

The best bite right now is for bull red drum. David reports that around the jetties they have been catching them in about 15 feet of water on cut mullet, but he reminds anglers that if they fish for reds in more than about 30 feet they need to be prepared to vent the fish. Regardless of where you fish the brood stock needs to be handled very carefully and time out of the water minimized. 

Captain Rob also reports that big reds can be caught in the surf on live or cut mullet around a number of area beaches. Folly Beach is reliable.   

Folly Beach Pier (843-762-9516) reports that the storm set back the king mackerel bite when it stirred up the water, but the bull red drum, black drum and whiting are still hitting hard off the pier. 

Edisto Island (Updated October 19)

Inshore surface water temperatures in the main rivers around Edisto Island are in the upper 70s but dropping. There are lots of bait shrimp in the creeks.

With water temperatures only beginning to go down fish are just now starting to get into a true fall pattern – Captain Ron Davis Jr. (843-513-0143) reports that water temperatures were 80 degrees earlier this week! Naturally then, redfish remain in a similar pattern, and the bite remains good on the flats and in the creeks. On the flats the best tide has been the middle outgoing tide when the water is out of the grass, while in the creeks two hours either side of low is best. Live shrimp are the best bait on the flats, but in the creeks live finger mullet work best and avoid bait stealers.

Black drum can be found mixed in with the reds on the flats and in the creeks. Live shrimp is the best bait. 

The trout bite is unexpectedly good, and Ron is extremely pleased to see better numbers than expected after last winter. The keeper ratio is down, and only about one out of five fish is legal instead of 40 or 50 percent which would be normal at this time of year.  Still, with fears of more than 80 percent mortality, things are looking pretty good. 

Fishing live shrimp 3-5 feet under a cork on main river points in about 6-10 feet of water is the best trout pattern. Finger mullet will also work. The best time to fish is when there is clear water, which usually correlates to a couple of hours either side of high tide. The artificial lure bite has not really started.   
Sheepshead fishing has been very good fishing fiddler crabs around docks with 6-8 feet of water at low tide. Sizes have been solid with about a 50% keeper ratio.

The giggers have been getting lots of flounder, and reports indicate that Frampton, Townsend and Jeremy Inlet have been consistent areas. Finger mullet are the best bait right now. 

Summer trout can be caught in deep holes at the mouths of major creeks, around mud bars, or over hard shell bottoms in 10-20 feet.  They are also at the nearshore reefs.  

Around sandbars or nearshore structure in 20-30 feet of water Spanish mackerel are prolific. Fish are following bait and the key is to look for the birds. 
Because of unusually high water temperatures bull red drum are just now starting to bite around the Edisto Rocks in 19-22 feet of water. They can also be found at the nearshore reefs. The fish are migrating and they will spawn until mid-November from the surf out to 90 feet of water. 

Offshore, tuna fishing has been really good at the ledge or over good bottom structure. Wahoo are still around but dolphin are not.

Bottom fishing is excellent and fish are starting to move closer in. Look for a very good bite for vermillion snapper, porgy, black sea bass, triggerfish and grouper

Beaufort (Updated October 21)

Inshore water temperatures in the Beaufort area are in the mid to upper-70s. 
With water temperatures still warm at mid-week the fish had not really gotten into fall mode, and Captain Tuck Scott of Bay Street Outfitters (843-524-5250) reports that redfish are still in more or less a summer pattern. When tides are high enough the tailing action has been very good, and on lower stages of the tide fish are chasing shrimp around oyster bars on the dropping tide. The best bait is shrimp although they are not super easy to net, and Gulp! peeler crabs on a ¼ ounce jighead have also been working.

Trout fishing has been pretty good with Gulp shrimp or most any paddletail grub on a ¼-ounce jighead, and fishing the dropping tide at the mouths of creeks has been the best pattern.

With temperatures still warm there have still been some tripletail floating around. 

Hilton Head (Updated October 19)

Inshore surface water temperatures around Hilton Head are still around 80 degrees.

As a result of the water temperature there’s not a lot of change with the fishing patterns, and Captain Kai Williams with Awesome Adventures Charters (843-816-7475) reports that until water temperatures drop into the 70s trout will likely stay a bit deeper. There are some reports of good catches but with limited numbers anglers are being tight-lipped.

Redfish and black drum can be caught around docks, rock walls, and rip rap on the lower half of the tide cycle in both directions as long as there is some current flow. Shrimp are the best bait. The big schools have not started to show up on the flats yet, likely as a result of the temperatures. 

The biggest recent development is that bull reds up to about 30 pounds have arrived, and they are all over rips in sounds, sandbars, live bottoms, rock piles and around most area bridges. Live or cut mullet will both work.

Big jacks are also still around off the beaches and in Calibogue and Port Royal Sounds. Large poppers or plugs in menhaden patterns will work, and you can also catch them on bucktails. Captain Kai prefers a bait that will stay up in the water column, however, while he waits for the fish.

Spanish mackerel are still around in the Port Royal Sound.