The water temperature has warmed significantly, which leads to a great flounder and trout bite. The Red Fish and Black Drum have also been migrating toward their summer hangouts: under and around docks. The best results for flounder have been mudminnows below a popping cork, and leader (that matches the depth of the water) with a circle hook. In other words, if you are in four feet of water, make your leader around four feet. When targeting trout, red fish and black drum use a live shrimp floating in the middle of the water column under a popping cork with a circle hook. You want your 2/0 circle hook set up parallel to the shrimps body, underneath the horn, be very careful not to hit the shrimps brain which is the black mass at the base of the horn. Finger mullet will also prove successful under a cork in the middle of the water column, hooking the fish through his bottom jaw and through his top jaw. When casting try and lead the fish by casting up stream and letting your cork float to the fish. Every so often pop your cork by taking the slack out of you braided fishing line, and jerk the rod tip slightly to make the cork rattle. Once you see the cork submerge try to not set the hook, elevate your rod tip and start reeling. The other method Charleston Boat Charters uses is a jig head rig with a live shrimp or Swim Man Z. The jig head with the best results has been a yellow 1/6 oz on 6 pound leader. When using a live shrimp, we take the end of the tail off and start the jig head through the end of the tail, exiting just before the head. With this set up you cast out and retrieve at different speeds and patterns, when the fish hits set the hook with j-hook jig heads. When using a jig head with a Swim Man Z artificial, you want to enter the artificial through the front end passing over the barb and out about half the way down the body.
The Sharks have taken over the Charleston Harbor! This month has the Atlantic Sharpnose and Bonnethead Sharks showing up to fatten up before having their young in the estuaries. The Sharpness Sharks can be easily lured in by using a piece of cut mullet on a 4/0-7/0 hook at the end of a 60 pound monofiliment or wire leader. The Bonnethead Sharks can be targeted using a big piece of blue crab. The best way use blue crab while targeting the bigger species of fish is to cut it in half rip off one of his legs. Then stick the hook in a leg socket and out the bottom white of their shell.
April has started to warm-up, not only air and water temperature but the bite warmed-up as well. There have been a variety of fish “waking up” for the season. The trout bite has been heating up and they have been eating almost everything; from mud minnows to artificials. You are almost guaranteed to catch a trout on a live shrimp this time of year, with most of our success coming at the bottom of a popping cork. While using a popping cork you want to shake the cork to produce a noise that closely mimics the sound a live shrimp would make. You can also use a Swim-Man Z artificial on a yellow jig-head; when using a jig-head you can change the speed of retrieval to produce a bite. Black drum have also began to hit hard, using the same bait and rigs as you use for trout. Flounder have also began to bite after a long winter nap. They have been hitting shrimp, but most of our success has come off of mud minnows at the bottom of a popping cork with a leader long enough to reach the pluff mud. The red fish are starting to congregate around structure and docks for the summer, but you can still find schools if you know where to look. The “bull” red drum have been inhaling blue crab either live or cut, mullet and shad. The end of April brought the sting ray and shark population back to the low country. The water temperature ranged from 65-72 degrees during the month of April, producing a great shark bite nearing the end of the month. This is when the water temperature was above 70 and the mullet have been in the low country for a solid two weeks. This produces easy shark fishing, using cut mullet on a 4/0 circle hook on 60 pound leader for Atlantic sharpnose sharks. The reason for the leader being a little heavier test is so the sharks will not bite through it as easily. If you want to target Bonnethead sharks you would use the same rig for your leader but instead of mullet you would use cut blue crab. Be careful though because the Red Fish will hit the same blue crab or mullet chunks, but they fight twice as hard!
March proved to be one of the best and most frustrating times to fish in Charleston. You can easily spot the “spot-tail”, it was a different story getting the Red Drum on the other end of the rod. We had most of our success with the slotted drum using a mixture of mud minnows and shrimp on a 1/0 or 2/0 circle hook, under a popping cork. The leader would be 6-10 pound test, the length would depend on the water depth, keeping the shrimp or minnow close to the sea floor. You could also use an artificial DOA shrimp under the cork; while under the cork, you want to make a lot of noise with the cork to draw the Red Fish in. We also had a lot of success using a yellow jig head with shrimp, jigging the bait along the oyster banks and spartina grass. The leader would be 6-10 pound test and about 18 inches long. We also had some success with the same jig-head rig using a DOA artificial shrimp. As for big “bull” reds, most of our success has been with cut blue crab or live blue crab on a 4/0 circle hook at the end of a 2 foot 60 pound leader. It seemed that once you had the Bull Red Fish eating, they would eat anything. So we would use pin fish, shad, mullet, finger mullet or whiting.
Captain Mike was at it again! Today the bait was plentiful at low tide, menhaden were schooling with finger mullet on the outskirts just up the Ashley River. He threw three casts of the net and caught plenty for the whole day. Picking up his guests at the City Marina, conveniently located near downtown Charleston South Carolina, they cruised out taking in local sights from the water. The destination was the Ravenel Bridge, one of the most iconic features of Charleston’s skyline. The fishing under the beautiful bridge was great for this team of anglers. As the tide was coming in so were the red drum, black drum and sharks! The team weighted their bait down to the ocean bottom with a one ounce weight on two foot leader and a circle hook. Within the first twenty minutes with lines in the water the first drum hit. A small black drum about 14 inches long caught with a finger mullet. The next hit was almost immediate, 22 inch Atlantic sharpnose shark. The fishing was great for an hour or so with the team reeling in an addition five fish; 3 black drum and 1 red drum and another Atlantic sharpnose shark. The tide had come in long enough where the fish were in and along the spartina grass. Mike quickly changed the rigs out, putting a float with a foot and a half leader to get the bait into the right depth of water with the results to show. The team successfully caught and released seven speckled sea trout and an alligator gar. The alligator gar is one of Captain Mike’s favorites to battle with. The alligator gar is one of the most unique looking fish found in the Charleston Harbor. They can adapt to different salinities, making it easy for them to go into brackish waters from their fresh water habitats. The alligator gar is among the biggest fresh water fish in North America and can be traced back over 100 million years ago. The trip was a success and the team went back to Salty Mike’s, right in the parking lot of the City Marina, to celebrate with a couple of beers and buffalo wings
Captain Mike was back at it again in the Charleston Harbor! Today he took out a nice family, a father and his two sons (12 and 14 years old). They cruised out in our custom 18 foot flats fishing vessel targeting speckled sea trout and redfish. When they started the tide was falling, so they were fishing around structure with bottom rigs. To bait the fish in the team used finger mullet along with menhaden, on a two foot leader with circle hooks. The anglers fought three redfish, 4 sharpnose sharks, a speckled sea trout and one mystery fish that was so big it broke the leader. Captain Mike speculated it was a bull red but the verdict will never be known. They spent about 4 hours in various locations around structure in the Charleston Harbor and up the Cooper River. At slack tide they decided to eat lunch, which was provided by East Bay Deli. By the end of the trip, the tide was now coming back in, so they took to the skinny water around the spartina marshes targeting fish on a float with a foot and a half leader. This is when the speckled sea trout started hitting. The youngest of the anglers, Mark, caught his first speckled sea trout. It was quite the fight for the young angler. Mark landed the fish and took a great picture with his prized fish. After the first hit the fish were in a frenzy. They landed 7 sea trout, 2 bonnethead sharks and a flounder in the matter of 30 minutes. The family had one redfish which fit into the slot, so they could keep the fish for dinner. Once back at the dock Captain Mike fillet the fish and gave a brief description of how to fillet a fish. He explained: “you cut close, but behind the pectoral fin, then cut along the top of the rib cage ending just before the tail. Then you cut the fillet away from the rib cage, clear through the bottom of the fish stopping just before the tail. Then fold the fillet back and cut the scales off and clean the fillet of bones and the red line that runs the length of the fillet.” Mike then gave our guests his professional opinion on a recipe to make his favorite style of redfish: grilled cajun blackened. If you have never caught a redfish, speckled sea trout, flounder or shark come out with Charleston Boat Charters! Our professional guides are experienced and friendly. We offer the best fishing that Charleston has to offer!
Another amazing day fishing in the Charleston Harbor. Captain Matt had three guests from Ohio who had never been fishing in the ocean before. We love to provide these first time anglers with great tips on how to land huge fish. They started their trip out of the City Marina, just minutes out of downtown Charleston, South Carolina at 7 a.m.. After Captain Matt taught a quick knot tying demo along with basic landing techniques, the crew was ready. As the saying goes early bird gets the worm. This was the case all morning long, from the third cast on the fish were in a frenzy! They were fishing around manmade structures targeting the red drum and speckled sea trout. These novice anglers hit on speckled sea trout, red drum (redfish), and Atlantic Sharpnose Sharks until they ran out of time. Being only a half day charter, they filled their 4 hour adventure with 13 fish total: 3 reds, 6 trout, 1 flounder and 3 sharks. The next task was to teach these anglers how to release the fish they caught back into the ocean unharmed. This great family learned a lot from Captain Matt and were successfully releasing every fish they caught!
They were on our custom 18 foot Famous Craft flats fishing vessel, loaded with lunch, water, soft drinks and of course Beer (Budweiser). They had a calm, comfortable boat ride out filled with music from our favorite Pandora radio station: Yacht Rock. For bait they used live mudminnows on a 3/0 circle hook with 20 ibl braid to a 20 ibl monofilament leader, on 7 foot St. Croix rods with 3000 Shimano reels. Later in the morning they switched their bait to cut menhaden, which produced the biggest red which was 25 inches. This is just beyond the slot in which you can keep red drum, with the other two being juvenile and too small on the other end of the scale. So our novice turned professional anglers were forced to grab their seafood dinner from Crosby’s Seafood in Charleston, South Carolina, one of the best seafood wholesalers in the area.
If you are looking to go fishing, plan a bachelor/bachelorette party or just want a relaxing day on the water with professional captains and top of the line equipment.
Captain Matt and Mike Luzon had a big fight with a school of redfish early this morning in the Charleston Harbor, which is one of the best times to fish. The fish are most actively feeding bright and early. Red Drum are often referred to as redfish, channel bass, spottail bass or reds. Red fish have to be larger than 15 inches but shorter than 23 inches in the state of South Carolina. This is to protect the species from being over fished. These regulations have been in place since the 1980s when the red fish were struggling as a species. Matt and Mike landed 10 redfish with 3 fitting the slot, so the Luzon’s ate well for dinner. Our Captains were not satisfied with just redfish though, so after releasing the two bull reds (28 and 30 inches) they caught on 4/0 circle hooks with menhaden, they started targeting speckled sea trout; using mudminnows on a 2/0 circle hooks and 4 foot leader. They had some good fights while the redfish stopped hitting. While targeting sea trout they fought a couple black drum. Black drum are the cousin to the redfish, often feeding with their heads down with their tails above the surface of the water. On an incoming tide both types of drum can be sight casted after you see their tales feeding in the shallow estuaries. Moving on from the black drum and sea trout they took to the sharks, landing a sharp nose and 3 bonnetheads. Bonnetheads usually get confused with hammerheads because they have the smallest cephalofoil of the Sphyrna genus. The largest of the sharks caught was the sharpnose measuring a little smaller than 3 1/2 feet. With the waters warming the Atlantic Sharpnose Sharks are going to be easy to target with menhaden. The ocean floor will determine the size of leader, ranging from two feet to nine feet.
Speckled sea trout were running with a following tide. Crushed some trout around Charleston Harbor using some cut bait on a deep rig today. Nothing major biggest fish was 22 inches smallest 13 inches. But they were fighters running the whole time while on. We did however lose one MAMOTH red fish (we believed). Had the glow of a red and the power too.