Saltwater Fishing Trends - June 21, 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

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 June 19)

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand are in the low 80s and clarity is poor. Surf temperatures are around 80.

Inshore fishing has been pretty good at the top of the Grand Strand, and Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that they are catching a mixed bag of species in the early summer heat.

In the Intracoastal Waterway they have been catching redfish and black drum on live or fresh dead baits including shrimp, and fishing an hour before high tide in 8-10 feet on the ledges has been hot. On lower tides you can catch fish in about 4 feet of water. Black drum have been pretty consistent in the 10-20 inch range on live or fresh cut shrimp.

While targeting drum, an exciting by-catch has been some really nice bluefish up to the 10-plus pound range that have been caught inshore – catching small blues inshore is normal, but having these sizes in the creeks is a rarity. And proving that you never know what you are going to catch in the ocean, today Captain Smiley’s boat caught striped bass on live shrimp! He speculates that all the fresh water has changed the salinity and fish movement patterns.

Flounder have been pretty consistent on live finger mullet, mud mullet, and even Gulp! baits fished on a ¼ ounce jighead. The best pattern has been fishing deep holes in the backwaters on lower tides.

A few trout have also been caught on live shrimp fished under a popping cork, including a 20-incher today! 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).

Some bonnethead sharks have been caught shallow in creeks like Bonaparte Creek, and out in the inlet bull red drum, stingrays, and Atlantic sharpnose sharks have been caught.

Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that small whiting, croaker, occasional spots, a few black drum, a few bluefish, and some small Spanish mackerel have been caught off the pier. But the most exciting news is that it has been a marquee year for king mackerel and over the past few weeks they have had 25-28 keeper fish caught.

Southern Grand Strand (Updated June 20)

Inshore water temperatures are in the lower 80s around Murrells Inlet, and it’s a strong summer bite.

Captain J. Baisch of Fishful Thinking Guide Service (843-902-0356) and Baisch Boys Bait and Tackle (843-651-1915) reports that in the last week there has been some really good flounder fishing with a bunch of fish in the 18-20 inch range caught. The speculation is that the extreme high new moon tides about a week ago flushed in a bunch of new fish, and they have been hungry and willing to eat both mud minnows and Vudu shrimp. The mullet aren’t quite big enough to stay on a hook well, and they need to be about an inch longer than a mud minnow for their head to be firm enough to hold. That usually happens around the beginning of July.

There has also been some good redfish action inshore, and Captain J has found them in the typical places for this time of year. They have been biting well around shallow, laid down oysters in 3-4 feet – including a 30-incher caught yesterday.

No new spotted seatrout report. 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 (Read the full news release).

In the surf it has been a really good season for whiting and pompano, which are eating sand fleas but also doing well on native clam (available in the store) cured in salt/ nitrogen. At the mouths of the jetties there are Spanish mackerel at times, but typical for summer fishing it varies day-to-day.

There have also been some king mackerel reported at the mouth of inlets and off the piers, but just offshore in 40-60 feet the king bite has been red-hot. The most common size is 6-10 pounds although there are plenty of bigger ones, and they are coming on artificial lures including drone spoons and cigar minnows trolled over live bottom areas. Myrtle Beach Rocks and Belkie Bear have been good.

Captain J is also wearing out the black drum at night chumming with clam around artificial reefs in 30-40 feet of water. Offshore, Georgetown Landing Marina (843-546-1776) reports that when weather allows dolphin, blackfin tuna, wahoo, sailfish and blue marlin are around.

Charleston (Updated June 20)

Inshore water temperatures in the Charleston area are in the 85-86 degree range, with ocean temperatures about 83 degrees. The shrimp season has just opened but reports are that it has been tough after the cold winter. Charleston fishing is solidly in a summer pattern, and David Fladd with Eye Strike Fishing reports that from pre-dawn to just before the sun rises above the trees, and then again in the late evening, there is a window when you can fish for trout with topwater lures. Overall the bite has been mediocre in spots that usually produce, but you can pick up a few here and there. There have been some big fish up to about 25 inches reported, which is a good sign. On the other hand, Captain Rob Bennett of Lowcountry Inshore Charters (843-367-3777) reports that a game warden he spoke with today said that he had seen extremely low numbers of trout this year between the Folly River and Edisto. That mirrors his own experience. The Charleston Harbor and surrounding areas fared better, but on the south side it’s pretty barren. Anglers 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). As discussed in May, David points out that for the duration of the summer redfish will be in very predictable patterns. Mostly this means they will be around docks with deeper water and some shade, and if you spend some time prospecting with a jighead and a mud minnow, pitching it under docks and waiting two or three minutes, you can develop a line-up of spots for each stage of the tide. It’s a good bet that if redfish are at one place at a certain stage of the tide in the summer they will be there at the same stage the next day. It’s also a good rule of thumb that when the sun is high they will go deeper or seek out shade. In areas without as many docks, including way up some of the coastal rivers, they will also hang around fallen trees. Recently David found Spanish mackerel busting in the Harbor, and they were able to catch them on a Trout Eye Finesse Jighead with a 3.75 inch Zman jerkbait that imitates a glass minnow. When the fish are really actively feeding they will eat most selections, but when you run through the schools they will sound. Common courtesy – and effective fishing technique – dictate that instead of motoring towards the schools, boats should run up-current of them and then drift down towards the Spanish. Without a motor engaged they will continue to feed very close to the boat. In the surf, Folly Beach Pier (843-762-9516) reports that ocean conditions have been great and should continue to stay that way with good water predicted for the next week or so. They have seen lots of whiting, bluefish, pompano, 4-plus pound black drum, and occasional Spanish mackerel. Some king mackerel have been spotted but none have been landed yet. They even had the attached 25-pound jack caught off the pier on a king mackerel rig and bluefish last week. Out at the jetties, David reports that you can find a mixed bag of species. This morning they caught bluefish, trout and several large ribbonfish on artificial baits. A good summer pattern in Charleston is to start out inshore looking for a topwater bite, then hit the Harbor for Spanish, and then head to the jetties. With the trout population down and a hot nearshore bite, Captain Rob has spent most of his fishing time out at the nearshore reefs. 4-5 miles offshore they are finding tons of Spanish, and drifting in 15-30 feet of water with cut mullet or menhaden there are lots of black tip sharks around. At reefs like 4KI and the Edisto 60 jelly balls and spadefish are plentiful, and there are also bunches of amberjack around. The cobia are about gone but there are some small king mackerel.

Edisto Island (Updated June 21)

Inshore surface water temperatures in the main rivers around Edisto Island are around 84 and clarity is good.

Inshore fishing around Edisto Island is solidly in a summer pattern, although Captain Ron Davis, Jr. (843-513-0143) reports that catching redfish on the flats remains tough. He just isn’t seeing many fish on the flats and so it’s hard to target them. In contrast, the creek bite is better and for 2-3 hours each side of low tide fish can be caught in deep holes. There are lots of 2 ½ to 4 inch brown shrimp, and casting at low tide you can catch plenty for bait. While they are the preferred bait finger mullet are also getting big enough to use.

At the nearshore reefs there are also a good number of black drum and red drum mixed together. Shrimp are the best bait for black drum, and cut or live menhaden (if small enough) will work for the reds.

There are some trout around, and while the reports out of Charleston are better you can still catch a half-dozen good fish on a trip around Edisto targeting them. Early in the morning the best pattern is throwing topwater lures, and then the rest of the day fishing live shrimp or DOA shrimp 4-6 feet under a cork around white shell banks adjacent to their spawning grounds is the best pattern. There are hardly any trout in the creeks as most are out in the rivers. Tide does not matter much as long as you can find some clear water.

SCDNR is strongly encouraging anglers to practice catch and release of all spotted seatrout through the end of September. (Read the full news release).

Trout fishing should get better in the fall when more of the migratory species move through.

There has been a good flounder bite in sandy inlets, particularly when you can find some rocks. There are lots of small sheepshead in the creeks around docks, although only about one out of five fish are keepers. Fiddler crabs are the best bait.

With calm seas recently the best thing going is fishing nearshore for Spanish mackerel, false albacore and bluefish. They are around the reefs but also generally holding in the 30-40 foot range, and just riding and looking for birds you can usually locate them. At times they will take anything and at times they can be very fickle, and recently Ron has had good luck casting shortened ¼ ounce mylar jigs and winding as fast as possible so the lure is jumping out of the water.

Offshore there are still a lot of dolphin around, but you have to look for the right weed lines to find the best bite. There aren’t many temperatures breaks and so they could be anywhere from 120-2000 feet. Boats are still catching 30 plus fish on trips, and even though most are in the 5-7 pound range there are still 15-30 pound fish mixed in. The wahoo bite is in a typical June lull but will almost certainly pick up in July and August around the good moons. Tuna reports have been limited. Bottom fishing has been excellent for grouper in 90-160 feet, vermillion snapper, triggerfish and black sea bass.

Beaufort (Updated June 19)

Inshore water temperatures in the Beaufort area are around 83 degrees and water clarity is pretty low.

It’s gotten hot in the South Carolina Lowcountry, and Captain Tuck Scott of Bay Street Outfitters (843-524-5250) reports that, unsurprisingly, the redfish are a little lethargic. At times the shallows approach bath tub range temperatures, there is plenty of bait in the water, and so sometimes the fish do get full. And unlike in the fall when that happens they don’t just keep eating.

The best window for catching fish is when the water is just starting to get in the grass edges on the rising tide before it gets too high and they really spread out. At very low water it can just be too hot. On the rising tide you can also find areas with sparser grass that fish are about to move to move into and put bait under a popping cork for them to find. Fish have also been tailing pretty well on high tide. The best bait has been mud minnows, and cut mullet has also been working pretty well. Red DOA shrimp and Gulp! baits have also been effective. On the fly wider crab patterns like the palometa crab as well as the redfish toad and tarpon toad have both been good.

While the cobia season should be winding down any day now, for the month of June fishing has been much better than May was. Anglers have been catching cobia inshore on all the usual techniques, including bottom fishing with cut bait, fishing live eels and menhaden, sight-casting big flashy flies on 10 and 11 weight rods, and walking the dog with big topwater lures. Although there have not been a lot of big fish caught the action has been decent. Anglers should also keep an eye out for tripletail on the surface, especially close to the ocean.

The trout bite has been fairly non-existent. SCDNR is strongly encouraging anglers to practice catch and release of all spotted seatrout through the end of September. (Read the full news release).

Hilton Head (Updated June 19)

Inshore surface water temperatures around Hilton Head are in the low to mid-80s, and clarity is pretty normal for this time of year. There are brown shrimp in the creeks big enough for bait, but you have to throw the net a lot to catch enough to use, while the more prolific white shrimp are not yet bait-sized.

Redfish are in a summer pattern in the Hilton Head area, and Captain Dan “Fishin’ Coach” Utley (843-368-2126) reports that the bite is pretty tide dependent. Last week with the very big high tides the fishing was not as good, whereas the week before it was better fishing the outgoing around shell bars and points when fish were out of the grass.

This week cooler morning temperatures have intersected with low water and then the incoming, and the fishing has been okay. They have caught some big reds around deep bends in the creeks that have trees, and they have also started to pick up a lot of 10-11 inch fish (which usually doesn’t happened until the after the 4th).

There has been a decent bite for numbers of black drum fishing with small pieces of cut shrimp, but most of the fish have been 11-12 inches and getting keeper-sized fish has been tougher.

On the incoming tide Coach’s boat has caught the occasional trout on mud minnows fished under a floating cork, and the same is true of flounder on the same bait. Anglers are reminded that the SCDNR is strongly encouraging catch and release of all spotted seatrout through the end of September. (Read the full news release).

The cobia bite (see the Beaufort report) has been better inshore than out at the Betsy Ross, and some early tarpon have been jumped at the mouths of the sounds. Menhaden schools have started to arrive on the flats in front of Pinckney and in the Chechessee. Coach has not seen ladyfish yet.