Saltwater Fishing Trends - September 15, 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 September 15)

Inshore temperatures in the Charleston are around 80 degrees, and Captain Rob Bennett of Lowcountry Inshore Charters (843-367-3777) tells anglers that it's time to get excited – the fishing from about September 15 until October 15 is what fishermen wait all year for.

Before talking about the fish, Rob points out that it's important to talk about another season that is upon us. The shrimp baiting season is now underway, and with a license you are allowed 10 poles. Bull's Bay and Charleston Harbor are traditionally excellent areas for shrimp baiting, and this is a great time to fill up the freezer with tasty fare.

Inshore, the trout bite continues to be nothing short of excellent, and all you need is a popping cork and a live shrimp (or DOA shrimp). With tons of mullet running the beaches trout are also getting in the surf zone. Redfish can be caught around a variety of structure, including docks or oyster beds. Any point that has good oyster beds and current will also hold redfish on moving tides. They can be caught fishing on the bottom or under a float on the top, although your chances of a bonus flounder are better on the bottom. If you want to target flounder, fish the gutter creeks around the inlets. The black drum are also biting well on shrimp fished around docks.

Tarpon are still here chasing schools of mullet, and while they won't be around too much longer watching the tarpon and black tip sharks bust big schools of mullet is a rare treat. They can be found especially on the outgoing tide around inlets.

In addition to inshore reds, from about the middle of September through the end of October is prime time for tangling with a bull red drum in the Charleston area. The most exciting part of this bite is that you don't need to be in a boat to hook up with a monster fish, and the real risk is overcasting the fish. They will be in the surf zone in only 2-3 feet of water, and in a boat anglers cast back towards the beach.

All the beaches will hold fish, particularly around inlet mouths at the points, but Folly Pier and off the end of Folly near Morris Island are two hot spots. Finger mullet or cut mullet will both work well.

Offshore this is the best period for king mackerel fishing pulling live mullet or menhaden in 40-90 feet of water.

North Grand Strand (Updated September 15)

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand have dropped and range from the low 80s in the creeks to about 77 in the surf. The water is very dirty.

The bite hasn't changed a lot since the storm even though the water has gotten dirty, but there have been decent numbers of small redfish caught inshore – before the storm they were a little hard to locate. Captain Patrick "Smiley" Kelly reports that his boat is now catching them in very shallow water throwing 1/4 ounce jigheads with live mullet, live shrimp or cut mullet.

Trout and flounder are still being caught, and the bull drum are being caught on dead high tide near the Little River jetties.

Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that there are lots of reds and black drum being caught off the pier in only 3-4 feet of water, with the reds running generally 30-35 inches. Plenty of 10-15 inch bluefish are around as well as the usual croaker, whiting, and perch. There is a king mackerel tournament off the pier this weekend.

Southern Grand Strand (Updated September 15)

Water temperatures in the Murrells Inlet area are around 80 degrees. Conditions were muddy until yesterday, when some crystal clear water came through (possibly pushed up from further south). It's unclear if that will last.

It doesn't appear that too much has changed at the south end of the Grand Strand after the storm, although Captain J of Fishful Thinking Guide Service (843-902-0356) did what he always did when it gets muddy... fished for black drum. Drum have super sensitive senses of smell and right now they are thick out by the jetties. Fresh cut shrimp is the ticket.

Except for emphasis on drum the pattern is about the same, and mullet are still everywhere. The bull red drum numbers are also getting better around the jetties.

Beaufort (Updated September 1)

Inshore water temperatures in the Beaufort area are down from a high of 88 to around 80 or 81 degrees, and clarity is pretty tough right now. On the fly dark colors like black and purple have the best visibility.

The redfish bite in the Beaufort area has been good, and Captain Tuck Scott of Bay Street Outfitters (843-524-5250) reports that in particular the tailing action has been very strong. It should get better as temperatures drop.

As water temperatures drop he also expects the reds to get more and more oriented towards chasing shrimp, and on low tide fish can already be caught in small channels in the flats on shrimp and artificials that imitate them. On both the dropping tide and the incoming drum are sitting around shell bars in places they can ambush prey.

Trout have been feeding well, and fish are feeding around swift moving water where they have some sort of obstacle that creates an ambush point. 3-4 feet is a good depth range. In addition to live bait 1/4 ounce jigheads with paddletail grubs, Gulp! shrimp or swimming mullet are working well.

Trout are also biting well at light changes (particularly in the morning) on topwater lures. Ladyfish and jack crevalle can also be caught the same way.

There are also a fair number of tripletail around, and on the flats and even over deep water if you see a dark spot it is worth looking to see if it is a tripletail laying on the surface. On spinning tackle they will eat a finger mullet, mud minnow, or live shrimp, or a shallow suspended twitch bait. A dark baitfish pattern is best on the fly.

Tarpon are around and guides have seen them busting bait.

Edisto Island (Updated September 15)

Inshore water temperatures around Edisto Island have dropped to around 81 or 82, and with 8 inches of rain during the storm the water is very tannic – although it is beginning to clear. Clarity is better in the North Edisto. In a few days Captain Ron Davis Jr. (843-513-0143) expects water conditions to normalize.

Before the storm fishing hadn't changed much from the last report, and since the storm there hasn't been much fishing activity on Edisto. The front beach only got power on Wednesday, with the rest of the island restored yesterday. Early indications are that with the amount of rain the numbers of shrimp will be down, but they are still there. Big schools of mullet are still running the beaches.

Migratory species like jacks and tarpon should be present through the end of the month, and about that time the bull red drum should get very active.

Offshore the wahoo bite has been excellent, and there are lots of fish along the ledge 60 miles out. Trolling the Edisto Banks area has been productive for fish like these two 45 and 65 pounders.

Hilton Head (Updated September 15)

Inshore water temperatures in the Hilton Head area should still be in the lower 80s, even after 4-6 inches of rain. The water is very dirty but starting to clear slightly.

Before the storm Captain Dan "Fishin' Coach" Utley (843-368-2126) reports that the bite was pretty similar to two weeks ago, meaning he was catching a lot of small redfish and the occasional bigger fish. They had two 31-inchers in the creek last week.

The trout bite was already tough before the storm, but this should set it back even further.

The most exciting new action is that bull red drum are starting to show up. For about a week there have been bull drum around the Highway 171 bridge over the Broad River, and they should be in the area through the latter part of October. Popular spots are around the major sandbars in the Broad River where anglers fish for cobia, at the mouth of the Port Royal Sound around limestone hard bottom areas, on the Hilton Head side of the Beaufort shipping channel, out from the docks of Spanish Wells in the Calibogue Sound, and at a variety of areas off Harbour Town depending on the tide. Later on in the season they will be around underwater submerged rock piles on the edge of the Savannah River shipping channel.