Saltwater Fishing Trends - October 5, 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, 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 October 5)

Inshore water temperatures on the north end of the Grand Strand have dropped to around 73 degrees inshore and about 77 in the ocean. Clarity is normal.

Fishing has been good in the Little River area, and Captain Patrick “Smiley” Kelly reports that the action for small redfish in the 15-17 inch range is very strong. They are chiefly catching fish on the lower end of the tides and with tons of finger mullet around cut or live bait fished on a 1/4 ounce jig has been working very well.

Flounder have been biting well recently, and while most of the fish are small they did have a nice 5-pound fish caught yesterday. Again finger mullet fished on the lower tides have been hard to top.

Trout action has been a little slow, and the best time to target specs has been on the higher tides. Black drum have been feeding well on shrimp and crabs on the outgoing.

In the Little River Inlet some big drum are being caught on the incoming tide on large mullet and menhaden. The bait run is still very much underway.

Cherry Grove Pier (843-249-1625) reports that earlier this week they had some spots caught off the pier, and bluefish, Spanish, whiting and croaker are pretty consistent.

Southern Grand Strand (Updated October 5)

Water temperatures in the Murrells Inlet area have dropped into the mid-70s. Clarity is very poor with strong northeast winds recently.

With muddy water Captain J of Fishful Thinking Guide Service (843-902-0356) adjusted and did what he does when clarity drops – pursued black drum. The fish have been stacked up by the jetties, and even on rough days they will eat cut shrimp. Drum can be caught at each stage of the tide; it's simply a matter of finding the right places around the rocks.

Flounder fishing has improved inside the creeks, with some better sized fish caught recently.

The redfish bite has been very good, and Captain J has been catching lots of 14-15 inch fish just below and right around the slot. Next year should be a great year for reds. Live finger mullet are the best bait right now, but once the pinfish leave shrimp will be effective. At the tips of the jetties bull red drum can be caught.

Captain J has picked up a few spot while drum fishing, a sign that run should start any day now.

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 October 5)

Inshore water temperatures in the Hilton Head area are around 80 degrees, with water clarity pretty low.

It's been a tough time for fishing with gale-force winds, and Captain Dan "Fishin' Coach" Utley (843-368-2126) reports that that about the only way you can fish is to get in the backs of creeks and fish around bends with fallen trees, docks, riprap and other structure. There are still a ton of small redfish around, and while most of them are 13-14 inches there are now some in the slot. Occasionally you will get a fish in the middle of the slot or bigger. There is an abundance of bait in the creeks, and with the best fishing for a couple of hours either side of low tide you can throw your net in a feeder creek early in the ebb and then have enough bait to fish the next few hours. Live shrimp may also pick up some black drum and trout, but black drum numbers have been inexplicably low. Trout were biting well until the water muddied up.

There are spotty reports on the big drum, but everyone is expecting them to make their way inshore soon.