Saltwater Fishing Trends - July 14, 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 July 1)

The trout bite has been pretty good recently, and Captain Rob Bennett of Lowcountry Inshore Charters (843-367-3777) reports that they are catching a lot of small fish to go with some heavier roe fish. However, he advises releasing these bigger fish – the meat is softer and killing them means killing literally thousands of future trout. Live shrimp under a popping cork are hard to beat.

While action for slot-sized redfish has been a little on the slow side, they are catching big bull reds at the jetties, around Dynamite Hole, and generally in deeper water.

However, by far the most exciting bite right now is for tarpon, and silver kings have showed up off the beaches, inlets and sandbars. This week Rob's boat caught a 110-pound tarpon after a half-hour fight!

The fish have followed the schools of menhaden here, but they will eat both live menhaden and live mullet. Rob advises fishing two baits on the bottom and two on the top, rigged on 8/0 to 10/0 circle hooks, just beyond the breakers.

A mile or two offshore Spanish mackerel fishing has been good, and just yesterday Rob's boat filled the box. Around the jetties, at Castle Pinckney, or just outside the Stono Inlet or North Edisto Inlet fish can be caught casting or trolling a 0 or 00 Clarks Spoon or Sidewinder.

Spadefish are very thick at the reefs where they will eat jelly balls.

Little River/North Myrtle Beach (Updated July 13)

Inshore water temperatures on the North End of the Grand Strand are around 80 degrees, and water clarity is pretty good for now.

The heat of summer has arrived in the Little River/North Myrtle Beach area, and Captain Patrick "Smiley" Kelly (843-361-7445) reports that as a result fishing is a little bit of a roller coaster right now. On days like today his boat had caught more than a dozen trout to go with redfish and bluefish by 9 a.m., but on other days the fishing is slower and they only catch a few fish.

Overall the trout bite continues to be about the best thing going, and early in the morning they are catching fish on topwater lures like Mirrolure Top Pups and Zara Spooks before switching over to live shrimp underneath a popping cork. Today they caught a 4-pounder on shrimp.

Redfish are eating Gulp! jerkshad and shrimp, and they are also picking up reds dead sticking baits around docks. In the Calabash River there are giant schools of pogies, and fishing these baits on the bottom around Tubbs Inlet, Tillman's Dock and Bonaparte Creek is letting anglers tangle with some big drum.

The black drum bite has slowed down in the summer heat, but they are still catching a decent number of short flounder as a by-catch. Overall it's been a down year for flounder, however.

Beaufort (Updated June 22)

Overall the redfish bite in the Beaufort area has been good, and Captain Tuck Scott of Bay Street Outfitters (843-524-5250) reports that on high tide the tailing activity has been strong. Redfish are gorging on fiddler crabs, and so on the fly Puglisi crab patterns, Dupre spoon flies, or most any weedless fly pattern is working well. Presentation is more important than the perfect fly, and Gulp! baits are also working well for tailing fish.

There has also been a good redfish bite on moving tides and particularly dropping water, and around creek mouths and oyster bars fish are feeding well on live shrimp, finger mullet, or mud minnows fished below a popping cork.

Trout fishing has also been pretty good on both the incoming and outgoing tides, particularly over oyster shells that have some water rushing over them. Live shrimp under a popping cork are hard to beat, and Gulp! paddle tail grubs in new penny color fished on a 1/4 ounce jighead are also deadly. Because of the heat trout are likely to be in a little deeper water in the 3 foot plus range.

There have also been some tripletail spotted on the surface, and these fish are likely to be lying on the top along with floating debris. They will eat a range of small artificial lures, particularly crab imitations. On the fly black deceivers are a good bet. While tripletail could be along the edges or flats, generally you will see them out in the middle of the river and so when you are running is the most important time to keep your eyes peeled.

Tarpon have not showed up en masse yet.

Edisto Island (Updated June 21)

Captain Ron Davis Jr. (843-513-0143) reports that Edisto Island-area inshore water temperatures are around 84 degrees – it got hot fast early this summer! Because of rain the last two weeks the South Edisto (the actual river) is not as clear as the North Edisto. Fish are eating well when you can find them.

Ron rates the inshore redfish bite as "fair," basically a result of numbers being down. When you can find fish they are willing to bite baits and lures. On the flats fish will take fresh shrimp or mullet fished on a jighead or Carolina rig, and the first couple of hours of the day there is also a good topwater bite. In the creeks the bite is pretty good early with cut shrimp or cut menhaden fished around docks, rocks, and trees found around bends in the creek.

The trout fishing was excellent, but now rates a good as it has gotten hotter. Lots of small sub-keeper sized fish have been caught to go along with some better fish. The first two hours of the morning there has been a good topwater bite, and after that mud minnows/finger mullet, live shrimp and DOA shrimp fished under a rattling cork in 3-5 feet of water have been working well. Live shrimp are the best bait with finger mullet second but there aren't a ton of either around in the creeks. Main river shell points and creek mouths are holding almost all of the fish, and while the particular tide has not been that important finding clear water is key.

Flounder fishing is fair in the inlets, but the hurricane last year has added a wrinkle. You can only get in and out of inlets like Townsend and Frampton with 3/4 tide or better, and most of the better fishing is at the bottom of the tide cycle. You either have to fish the weaker high tide, or commit to staying for a while and fish through low tide back to high tide again. Mud minnows and finger mullet on the bottom are both working, and there are a lot of small flounder around. At the nearshore reefs there are also flounder to be caught.

Inshore sheepshead fishing is good, although the sizes are a bit hit-or-miss with lots of small fish around. Because there are so many croaker and pinfish present fiddler crabs are a must, and you want to target docks with 6-10 feet of water at low tide. The best period is three hours either side of low water.

In the surf whiting fishing is good around turbulent sand bars at the mouths of inlets – you won't find too much on the plain beach. Tarpon are just starting to show up and will be here through September.

Just offshore Spanish mackerel fishing has been good in 30-40 feet of water. Look for birds diving and then cast small spoons at the fish. On the nearshore reefs the spadefish bite has been outstanding – so good that Ron says it is probably the hottest thing going. Any reef in less than 60 feet of water are holding the fish, and he says it is probably the best bite he has ever seen. Usually the fish are very finicky, but perhaps due to the lack of jelly balls fish are hungry and so they are very willing to eat a 1/4 piece of shrimp on a 1/0 or 2/0 hook either free-lined or cast with a small piece of split shot.

The offshore bite for wahoo, tuna and dolphin has slowed a lot, but the best bet is start out very early and troll until about 9:00 a.m. between 120-160 feet of water out to the ledge, and then bottom fish after that for vermillion snapper, black sea bass, grouper, triggerfish, etc.

Greater Murrells Inlet (Updated June 21)

Perry's Bait and Tackle in Murrells Inlet (843-651-2895) reports that they are still getting some good catches of flounder along the South Grand Strand, but they are receiving really strong reports on redfish and black drum. Captain J of Fishful Thinking Guide Service (843-902-0356) says that he is catching both species on pieces of shrimp fished over shell bottoms where there is some current. The shells can be live or dead, but the key is just not having a mud or sand bottom. The tide hasn't mattered much, and it will take some patience to weed through the pinfish but after a few minutes the drum show up and seem to run off the bait stealers.

Trout fishing has also been pretty good inshore, with plenty of 15-16 inch fish being caught on live shrimp and smaller live finger mullet.

At the jetties sheepshead fishing has been strong, and off the beaches there have been a lot of sharks, bluefish, ribbonfish, ladyfish and croakers caught. Before the storms pompano were doing well, but they have slowed down since the rain started.

Nearshore Perry's reports weakfish, gulf flounder and spadefish at the 3-Mile and 10-Mile reefs, although Captain J. says that at times it's been a little tough to catch spadefish with so much of their natural bait (small jellyfish) around.

Captain J. is having a lot of success trolling 16-18 miles offshore in 30-60 feet of water for king mackerel. Pulling live menhaden and cigar minnows over live bottom areas has been producing a good number of smaller 10-12 pound fish, while the artificial reefs have barracuda which often don't mix well with kings. Perry's has gotten good king reports at Belkie Bear.

Georgetown Landing Marina (843-546-1776) reports that they have had some bottom fish hit the docks, and the trolling trips have produced some spotty dolphin fishing. Blackfin tuna are in their traditional areas – the trick is just getting them to bite!

Hilton Head (Updated July 14)

Inshore water temperatures in the Hilton Head area are in the mid-80s and above, and clarity is good.

Considering the summer heat it's not surprising that one of the best inshore patterns going in the Hilton Head area is a deep bite. Captain Dan "Fishin' Coach" Utley (843-368-2126) reports that the creek shrimp have gotten big enough to use as bait and his boat has been using a slip cork rig to fish them in the deep bends of creeks, particularly those that have docks or trees. He is getting the bait down about 8-12 feet, and sometimes as deep as 15. This technique is picking up some big redfish, some legal black drum, and some trout. He has found some holes that are fishing best on the outgoing to low tide, and some that are most productive on the incoming.

Along the edges of the grass and oyster bars Coach has been catching a ton of juvenile redfish on the incoming tide. While this is obviously a good sign for the future, he is wary of handling too many of these fish that we want to grow up.

While there have been tons of big schools of mullet around, the tarpon sightings and catches have been sporadic. It's basically been a report of one here and one there, not huge numbers of them.