Saltwater Fishing Trends - December 1, 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 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 1)

Inshore water temperatures in the Charleston area are in the mid- to upper-50s, and clarity is improving.

Captain Rob Bennett of Lowcountry Inshore Charters (843-367-3777) reports that the trout and redfish bite in the Charleston area continues to be incredible, and this week he still averaged 40-80 fish per day. Shrimp stayed in the rivers longer than usual this year because of the warm weather, and this has obviously helped the fishing. Before long the redfish will start to group up in larger, winter schools on the flats but for right now the pattern remains the same.

The most notable change on the inshore side is that the spot run is underway. Anglers can use blood worms or small pieces of shrimp on a #2 hook to catch this delicious fare. They are being caught around the Folly River bridges, the old Pitt Street Bridge in Mount Pleasant, off the Kiawah Bridge and more.

Overall surf fishing is slowing down, but Folly Beach Pier (843-762-9516) reports that they are still getting a few big bull reds, occasional whiting and black drum, and rays and small sharks. For now, sheepshead are still around in good numbers.

At live bottom areas in 40-60 feet bull red drum in the 20-50-pound range are thick, and as a result great white sharks are showing up just offshore probably to eat the redfish. The reefs are also hot with weakfish, black drum, and soon sheepshead.

Wahoo are being caught on the ledges.

North Grand Strand (Updated December 1)

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand have dropped into the lower to mid-50s, and with mild air temperatures/ improving clarity this is one of the most pleasant (and productive) times of the year to fish the Little River area.

The trout bite continues to be outstanding, and Captain Patrick "Smiley" Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that most of the fish are keepers in an impressive 15-20 plus inch range. The fish bite better on moving tides, and current running along the ledges in 6-8 feet of water offers the best conditions. An assortment of artificial lures have been working well, with Vudu Shrimp probably the best and most popular right now but Gulp!, Zman, Trout Tricks and other baits also working. Of course, live shrimp will also produce, and some fish are still being caught on top on Spooks.

When anchored up and casting at a spot drifting live shrimp behind the boat in the current is working.

There are also plenty of black drum being caught along the ledges on the bottom. They are eating shrimp, and some small, undersized sheepshead are also mixed in.

Occasional redfish have been mixed in with the catch, and most of these have been over the slot. They are usually being caught in shallow water on the bottom with live shrimp or live mullet. The Little River Inlet jetties have also been a hot spot on the outgoing tide for spottails and black drum.

Lots of small flounder, mostly undersized, have been caught on 1/4 ounce jigheads with Gulp! curly tail grubs and Vudu Shrimp.

Southern Grand Strand (Updated December 1)

Water temperatures in the Murrells Inlet area are around 60 degrees, and conditions are very clear.

It's been a mild fall, and with moderate water temperatures Captain J of Fishful Thinking Guide Service (843-902-0356) reports that he is having a ton of success inshore for black drum, redfish and trout. In Murrells Inlet he is floating live shrimp over oysters and catching all three species. As long as there is moving water and the oysters are covered the tide has not been an issue.

At the jetties on lower stages of the tide Captain J has been having success for the same species with cut shrimp fished on the bottom around rocks.

There are tons of small flounder around for anglers trolling mud minnows, but only about one out of ten fish is a keeper.

Offshore there has been a tremendous wahoo bite, and Captain J reports that high speed trolling as well as pulling ballyhoo has been extremely productive. All of the fish are over 40 pounds with some over 70, and Captain J also caught a sailfish that was only 7 pounds shy of the state record.

Beaufort (Updated December 1)

Inshore water temperatures in the Beaufort area are around 59 degrees, and conditions are very clear.

With fish happy and hungry and the water clear, it is pretty much the peak time of the year to fish for redfish in the Beaufort area. Captain Tuck Scott of Bay Street Outfitters (843-524-5250) reports that on the next cycle of tailing tides there may be one last group of tailing fish for the year, but on low tide they are doing some great sight-fishing on the fly for reds.

On the dropping tide fishing around shell bar points with artificial lures including DOA shrimp and grubs or scented soft plastics on a 1/4 ounce jighead are working, and fish are shallow. When the water is up fish are generally spreading out in the grass and dispersing, and it is generally easier to target them around mounds, shell bars and points on lower tides.

The trout bite continues to be phenomenal, although fish are a bit deeper with cooling water. Points in 3 feet of water have been good, but just working the banks a bit off the grass at that depth has also been productive on most any moving tide. The outgoing has been a bit better than the incoming. DOA shrimp under a popping cork, and popping it a lot, has been productive, as has been searching with live shrimp. Once you find fish then you can switch back to artificials so you don't run through a lot of expensive bait.

Edisto Island (Updated December 1)

Inshore water temperatures around Edisto Island are about 60 degrees, and clarity is excellent.

Most of the inshore shrimp are gone, and as a result Captain Ron Davis Jr. (843-513-0143) reports that the transition over to artificial lures is taking place. The pattern for catching redfish on the flats and in the creeks is unchanged, except that scented soft plastics on light jigheads or flutter hooks are replacing bait. The reds are biting about as well as they will all year.

Trout are not as widely dispersed as they were a couple of months ago, and they are more concentrated in certain areas as they make the move to deeper holes in rivers and major creek arms. Instead of there being a few fish everywhere now there are long stretches where you will not catch anything, and then you will hit a spot where you can catch 15-20. They are taking all sorts of soft plastics including DOA shrimp, Trout Tricks, Bass Assassin paddletail grubs, and more.

On the main rivers at the top of the tide and first of the outgoing is the prime time to catch trout in 4-8 feet of water, while in the creeks two hours either side of low tide is best in the deep holes.

Whiting are biting well in the sloughs that line the river next to sand bars. The big ones are a bit deeper in 8-12 feet of water.

The sheepshead bite is still excellent around structure that has 6-10 feet of water at low tide. Fiddler crabs will work but you can also use oysters and clams with the picker fish leaving. Sheeps are also starting to show up on the nearshore reefs.

On nearshore structure including rocky bottoms and artificial reefs there are lots of weakfish around in 40 feet or less. You can only keep one but they are prolific. Bull red drum can be found on the same structure where they will eat cut mullet, and black drum in the same areas will eat shrimp.

While it won't pay off every trip, when you are offshore in 30-50 feet of water it is worth looking for a concentration of large white birds called gannets. They feed on the same large baitfish that are a magnet for bull drum. You can throw any large spoon or soft plastic on a ½ or 1 ounce jighead to catch them, and sometimes even topwaters. At times the water will be brownish red with reds feeding on the surface.

In bottom fishing news, the red snapper mini-season is December 8, 9 and 10 as a make-up for the bad weather weekend earlier this year. Only one person can be kept. In 70-100 feet it is easy to get on black sea bass, vermillion snapper, and triggerfish in the right areas.

Hilton Head (Updated December 1)

Inshore water temperatures in the Hilton Head area are around 60 degrees and clarity is good.

Fishing is still excellent in Hilton Head, and Captain Dan "Fishin' Coach" Utley (843-368-2126) reports that big redfish have showed up along the grass on high water on main rivers like the May and Chechessee. They will take a variety of baits, including rattling corks and minnows or shrimp dead or alive. Dead sticking Gulp! shrimp on a ¼ ounce jighead has also been very effective. Some of the fish are in the 24-27-inch range but there also lots of 16-18 inch fish.

The trout bite is still great on soft plastics and live shrimp. Finding clean, moving water is the key.