Saltwater Fishing Trends - August 24, 2018

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.

Seatrout

SCDNR urging catch and release to help spotted seatrout recover

Learn more about catch and release

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 August 3)

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand are in the mid- to upper-80s, and even though the water has been really murky the past few days Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that it has not slowed the action. Overall, it’s been a really good summer in the Little River/ North Myrtle Beach area, and as we move towards fall there is a very healthy shrimp population. Netting bait at low tide is easy.

There have been some really nice black drum caught this week, including a big eight-pound fish caught yesterday on live shrimp. The best action has been on the falling tide along deeper ledges in about 12 feet of water in the channels and the Intracoastal Waterway. There have also been some good fish caught around docks.

Redfish have been eating live shrimp fished up shallow on the flats under a popping cork, with the best bite on the falling tide. A lot of the fish have been over the slot, but sub-15-inch fish are also pretty plentiful.

A few flounder have been caught here and there on live finger mullet and Gulp! new penny shrimp and swimming minnows. The best bite for flounder has been on the low to rising tide in deeper holes in 5-10 feet of water.

Most of the trout that Captain Smiley’s boats have picked up have been very small, and overall the bite has been pretty slow the past couple of weeks. When they do catch trout it’s usually at creeks mouths or the edge of oyster beds on moving tides. Live shrimp or Vudu Shrimp under a popping cork will both work. Remember that SCDNR is asking anglers to practice catch and release of all spotted seatrout through the end of September. (Read the full news release).

Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that a few whiting, croaker and sheepshead have been caught off the pier. Overall conditions have been really muddy and there have been no king mackerel or Spanish caught.

Southern Grand Strand (Updated August 22)

Inshore water temperatures are in the mid- to upper-80s around Murrells Inlet, and fishing continues to be good.

Captain J. Baisch of Fishful Thinking Guide Service (843-902-0356) and Baisch Boys Bait and Tackle (843-651-1915) reports that inshore the flounder bite is typically spotty for this time of year. One day the fish will be biting in an area but they may not be there the next day, and so you have to move around a lot until you find fish.

IThe better pattern for flounder, when you can get offshore, continues to be fishing in 25-60 feet of water on the reefs. Live finger mullet on a Carolina rig have been hard to beat, fished with a one-ounce weight and an Eagle Claw Lazer Sharp #2 wide bend hook. Redfish have been biting well on live mullet, and Captain J says he’s fishing for them almost like fishing for catfish. He puts out a bunch of baits on the same Carolina rig and waits. When boat traffic is bad then he fishes deeper, but generally it’s in 3 feet of water or less.

A few anglers have done well for trout fishing on the incoming tide along grass. Fishermen are reminded that, as a precautionary measure, the SCDNR is strongly encouraging anglers to practice catch and release of all spotted seatrout through the end of September.

It's been super windy and so surf fishing has been a little tough, but some whiting, small sharks and occasional black drum are being caught. Overall though it's the summer doldrums in the surf.

The Spanish mackerel bite has been good trolling menhaden, cigar minnows and other baits, and so hopes are high. The tips of the jetties, Myrtle Beach Rocks and Belkie Bear are all giving up fish.

Charleston (Updated August 24)

Inshore temperature in the Charleston area are around 85 degrees, and in the surf it’s about 82 degrees. Steady winds out of the south brought in some nice aqua-colored water to Folly Beach, but it looks to be back and forth over the next week or so.

Captain Rob Bennett of Lowcountry Inshore Charters (843-367-3777) reports that a fall redfish bite has started. The best inshore fishing of the year will take place from now through about mid-November, and on recent trips they have a caught a ton of redfish mixed between undersized fish and bigger ones. There are plenty of shrimp in the creeks and fishing them under a popping cork around oyster shells has been the best pattern.

They have picked up less trout the last couple of weeks, but as temperatures cool off that is almost certain to pick up. Fishermen are reminded that the SCDNR is strongly encouraging anglers to practice catch and release of all spotted seatrout through the end of September. (Read the full news release).

Flounder fishing seems to have slowed a bit, but finger mullet and mud minnows have been the bait of choice on either a deep popping cork rig or a Carolina rig, and Rob’s boat is concentrating on small drains and gutters that he likes to target. The best fishing is for a couple of hours either side of low tide.

The tarpon are definitely around, and they should be here to stay through about the end of September. They can be found around sand bars and rip lines in 6-8 feet of water where you can see color changes out on the inlet bars. Live menhaden and mullet are the best baits. Captain Rob has also caught a bunch of big blacktip sharks a little further out.

Folly Beach Pier (843-762-9516) reports that with clear water this past week has been excellent, and a lot of pompano, Spanish mackerel and black drum have been caught off the pier. The biggest pompano of the season was weighed in last week at 3 pounds 9 ounces, and they also had a 6 pound 11-ounce Spanish caught!

Out at the jetties, David Fladd with Eye Strike Fishing reports that they have caught a bunch of bull redfish on StriperEye jigs and Zman 6” SwimmerZ. The fish seem to congregate where the ends of the jetties submerge, and you can also catch drum drifting the jetties where the rocks meet the bottom and vertical jigging. If anglers are going to target spawning red drum at the Grillage it’s imperative that they are prepared to vent them and revive them fully before releasing them.

It’s been a little bumpy in the open ocean, but on days when you can make it out to the nearshore reefs there has been a strong bite for big flounder at the Nearshore Reef and Edisto 40. Fish will “knock the fire” out of live minnows rigged behind a 2-3-ounce weight.

Edisto Island (Updated August 24)

Inshore surface water temperatures in the main rivers around Edisto Island have dropped slightly to around 84 degrees, and even though the water is dark it is just starting to clear.

In some ways there’s not a lot of change in the last couple of weeks since water temperatures remain pretty hot. But in other ways Captain Ron Davis Jr. (843-513-0143) reports that fall fishing has officially kicked off, and the fish are aware of the shorter days and cooler morning temperatures. The best fishing of the whole year will take place from now until about Thanksgiving.

The redfish bite remains good on both the flats and in the creeks. There are tons of small, young-of-the-year redfish around right now, and the catch rate is about 90 percent under the slot. But they are having some 100 fish days.

In the flats the bite is still not very tide dependent, and in a typical early fall pattern the fishing is usually good for the first couple of hours of the day regardless of tide. Fish are feeding heavily on live shrimp, and fishing them either a couple of feet under a float or rigged on a small jighead the action is good. While there are lots of finger mullet around, there is no doubt that shrimp are king right now.

The creek pattern continues to be pretty steady as it has been all summer, but unsurprisingly the best action right now is with live shrimp fished on the bottom. Fishing around structure at low tide is still the best way to catch creek fish.

There are still plenty of black drum mixed in with the redfish in both the creeks and main river flats, but there are more 14-17-plus inch drum on the flats.

The trout bite remains fair although in the last couple of days it seems to be picking up. Because of the heat trout are hard to find in the creeks, and the best bet to catch them is to fish high tide on the main river white shell banks with live shrimp about four feet under a cork. Fishermen are reminded that the SCDNR is strongly encouraging anglers to practice catch and release of all spotted seatrout through the end of September. (Read the full news release).

Ron has not picked up as many flounder in the last few weeks although gigging reports are still good, even with murky water. The peak gigging period is from now until about October 1. If you want to specifically target flounder on hook-and-line the best places to look are at the mouths of smaller inlets with a sandy bottom. While they like to be around shells, they want to be around shells in sand more than in mud. Because flounder are such visual feeders clear water is also a significant plus.

Sheepshead fishing remains pretty typical for this time of year, with lots of small sheeps around pilings in 5-8 feet of water. Fiddlers crabs are the best bait. They are also starting to get up in the grass tailing on high tides but those fish are hard to target.

There are still plenty of small whiting in the surf that will eat cut shrimp or cut bait, but for bigger whiting you need to go a bit deeper off the edges of bars in 10-15 feet of water.

Tarpon fishing has picked up, and the next month is the best tarpon season of the year. Tarpon move around a lot, and they will eat for a couple of days in one area and then move on. The best way to target them is to ride around until you see either fish rolling or menhaden or mullet schools.

Both inshore and nearshore Spanish mackerel can still be found, and most any day that you can get offshore you can get into them. While there are some at the mouths of inlets they are a bit sporadic, and the best action is in 30-45 feet of water on out to 60 feet. Nearshore reefs are the best places to target them. While you can usually catch some trolling spoons, for some reason they have been responding better to very small mylar jigs so fish the lure with the fastest retrieve you can manage.

In 60-90 feet of water it is the best king mackerel season the area has seen in the last decade, and trolling spoons or plugs it is not unusual to catch 8-10 fish in a morning. Anglers are also having success slow trolling live bait.

Bottom fishing is really good when you get out, and in 60-90 feet a variety of species including black sea bass, vermillion snapper, porgies, and triggerfish can be caught. Grouper fishing is good in 160-180 feet.

Sailfish are still plentiful and a few dolphin are around, and the wahoo fishing should be excellent on the full moon in September.

Beaufort (Updated August 24)

Inshore water temperatures in the Beaufort area are around 84 degrees.

The redfish bite is sporadic right now, and Captain Tuck Scott of Bay Street Outfitters (843-524-5250) thinks that’s mostly because of the heat. Some days fish are really happy, and some days the bite is a little tougher.

It’s one of those rare periods where time of day is probably more important than tide, and fishing early in the morning is the best way to increase your chances of success. If it’s a low tide early then you want to fish mud flats with oyster shells, and on moving stages of the tide you want to find ambush points where the reds can lie in wait.

There is a good population of shrimp in the creeks, and live shrimp and cut mullet are both working. Any Gulp! baits fished under a cork or on a jighead can also produce, with Mirrodine suspending plugs a little less effective right now. On the fly darker patterns like Zonkers in black or purple are the best option.

Pretty good numbers of tripletail are still laying around, and there are a fair amount of trout and ladyfish chasing shrimp. They will eat topwater lures first thing and then at a slower rate for the next couple of hours. In the heat of the day that bite dies. Anglers are reminded that, as a precautionary measure, the SCDNR is asking anglers to practice catch and release of all spotted seatrout through the end of September. (Read the full news release).

There are some good reports for tarpon with menhaden fished on the bottom around rips.

The Port Royal Sound has been productive.

Hilton Head (Updated August 24)

Inshore surface water temperatures around Hilton Head are about 88 degrees.

There’s a lot of saltwater action to be found around Hilton Head, and Captain Kai Williams with Awesome Adventures Charters (843-816-7475) reports that redfish continue to be caught on all stages of the tide. They are catching fish on live finger mullet, or cut bait if they don’t have live, fished under a cork alongside grass and white shell oyster rakes. When the water is really high they are just throwing cut bait in the grass and waiting.

You can certainly catch fish tailing, especially if high tides falls later in the evening. The water is very hot on the flats and if high tide is in the middle of the day temperatures can reach the mid-90s.

Captain Kai has not caught a lot of trout recently, partly because of extreme high tides that seem to have put the bite off. Free-lining live finger mullet is still producing some bigger fish. Fishermen are reminded that the SCDNR is strongly encouraging anglers to practice catch and release of all spotted seatrout through the end of September. (Read the full news release).

Tarpon can again be found in both the sounds and the rivers because the bait is there.

Around inshore structure a mixed bag of small cobia, small jacks and bluefish can be caught on live and cut menhaden. The fish are around bridges, rubble, and other structure up the rivers.

There are still lots of sharks, both large and small, in the area.

At the nearshore reefs, as well as inshore at rips in Calibogue and Port Royal Sounds when there is clean water, Spanish mackerel can be caught. Captain Kai’s boat is anchoring up, chumming, and fishing live menhaden with one on a cork and one free-lined. Once fish show their preference they switch everything to that.

Jacks fizzled out a week or so ago, but they expect to see them again soon with bait coming into the sounds. Sight casting on the approaching full moon should be good.