-Inshore Fishing Outline and Tips-
*This is a typical outline for the inshore fisheries of the Charleston and surrounding areas. This outline will hold mostly true and accurate with some variance in timing due to weather or some other natural occurrences.
December – March
-Air and water temperatures are typically lower
-Water clarity is usually very good
-Very little, if any, bait in the creeks
-Low water temps usually result in slower metabolism in fish
-Typical saying this time of year is LOW and SLOW when fishing, meaning fishing closer to the bottom in any type of depth and working the bait(live or artificial) very slow
-Best fish to target would be redfish, sheepshead, and black drum. Flounder and trout can still be caught this time of year but water temperature is going to play a vital part of how successful you will be that day.
-To target redfish, especially in schools, you’ll need to fish them around/closer to low tide. They can still be caught on a higher tide by fishing docks and structure.
-When temps drop in the late fall it makes the fish start to school up. Mostly talking about redfish, they will travel in schools so the fishing can either be really good or really bad. The key to winter fishing for reds is finding them, not spooking them, and finding what they want to eat.
-Sometimes you’ll have to figure out what they want to eat, but don’t hesitate trying dead bait(mullet/ shrimp) rigged on the bottom. Live bait and artificial baits will work for sure, just don’t be surprised if they can be picky at times.
-Speaking of picky, as you move into March the fishing can be frustrating at times. A lot of it has to do with being a transitional time of year with continually changing weather patterns. Don’t forget the typical blustery winds. You can go one day and catch twenty fish and do the same thing the next day and scratch. This is March for you.. It can prolong a little into April and May depending on the weather patterns.
April – June
-Air and Water Temps are finally on the rise!
-Baits such as menhaden(April), shrimp and finger mullet(May/June) will start to show
-Water clarity will start to get dirty the closer we get to June
-More of your migratory species will start to show up such as spanish mackerel, bluefish, sharks, tarpon, jack crevalle, and ladyfish. These will join the residential redfish, trout, flounder, and sheepshead.
-The options will start to get endless in what to catch and even in how to target them!
-Bait(live or dead) will still be effective and you will also find using artificials lures will be too!-Being that the water starts to get dirty pay close attention to the water clarity you’re fishing from spot to spot. Clarity can change significantly from one fishing spot to another so don’t forget to change lure choices. Darker colors in muddy water and more translucent in cleaner water.
-The creeks and inlets will be alive with above species and the sharks, bull reds, and tarpon will show in inlet mouths and at the jetties closer to May/June time frame
-Most of your jetties and inlet fishing for larger species will involve bigger baits and tackle. Large artificial lures have been a newer trend, catching redfish and tarpon on them, but the gold standard is live/cut bait rigged on a bottom rig with a circle hook.
-Being that temps have risen you can cover ,and be successful, the entire water column. Early morning topwater bites will produce many of the creek species with explosive action
-As the sun gets higher I’d switch over to a suspending or slow-sinking lure
-Fishing live bait under a float is a sure-fire way to be successful! Minnows or live shrimp under that float will do the trick.
July – September
-We are now in the full-on summertime pattern of HOT and more HOT!
-Temps can get pretty hot for the fish and for us.
-For most of your creek fishing you will catch a majority of your fish before 10am
-After that I would either fish late afternoon or target deeper water species
-Most of the fishing strategies you would use for June will still apply
Fish topwater plugs early or very late in day
As sun gets higher go to float fishing with live bait or subsurface baits
As temps get really hot during middle of day bottom rigs will produce more along with fishing deeper water
Water is still muddy and will continue to be until October time frame
-Toward end of September a lot of the migratory species will start to leave, usually being around the 75 degree watermark for them to leave
October – December
-Water and air temps start to cool
-Water will start to clear in early October
-The last bit of your migratory species will have left the area by November
-They don’t call it Red October for nothing: The bull redfish at the jetties, in the surf, and off the beach can be on FIRE!!
-Fishing is prime time everywhere
-If you’ve never used artificial lures this will be the best time to get practice in.
-Fishing is typically just plain GREAT, meaning its typically a numbers game this time of year-My personal favorite water temps are between 65-75
-Once water gets closer to 55 degrees the redfish will start to school up and make for great sight-fishing
-For trout and reds, when you catch ONE, you will typically catch more!!
-Live bait will start to leave the creeks closer to December
-Large mullet usually stay in creeks for most of year
-Other Factors to consider while fishing-
-For fishing you will typically always want moving water but you can have too much and too little. It will also dictate where or how you fish
-You basically have three different tide cycles (Neap, Regular, King)
Neap tides are a smaller tide swing and usually means slower moving current/tide
-At times you may find yourself fishing a spot with little to no moving water and the bite would probably be slow. You may want to reposition yourself to have more flow, which in turn should make for a better bite
-The water would probably be cleaner during this tide(in general)
-The tide swing would roughly be a difference of about 3-4 feet between low and high An example of a Neap tide looking at a tide chart would read something like this: Low 8:00am 1.2’ High 2:00pm 4.8’
Our regular tide swing in Charleston is 5.5’ of water.
-This generally makes for relatively clean water and good fishing
-You could probably fish most areas without expecting too much or too little current
An example of our regular tide swing looking at a tide chart would read something like this: Low 10:00am 0.2’ High 4:00pm 5.8’
A king tide is the most extreme and typically a harder one to fish
-The water is typically muddy and moving extremely fast
-This is one of the harder tides to fish but given the fact that we can’t change them and we all want to fish every day you should still go!
-Pay attention to where you are fishing. Staying out of direct moving water like an inlet or entrance to harbor will be best.
-Pay attention to the areas you are in or traveling to, especially on the low tide. King tides mean there will be less water at low tide than normal and more water than normal at high tide!
-If you do fish on these extreme tides it would probably be best to fish right around the changes of the tides because that is when it’s slowing down or moving at its slowest speed.
An example of a king tide looking at a tide chart would read something like this: Low 6:15am -1.02 High 12:30pm 6.5’
Wind will always play a factor in fishing whether its the spot you want to fish(casting into it) or the way it effects the tides.
While mentioning the different tides above the wind can affect how big or small the tides get.
Wind blowing out of any East direction will typically push more water IN on an incoming tide -OR- keep water from coming OUT on an outgoing tide.
The adverse effect will happen with any type of West wind. A strong west wind will keep the water from getting AS high as it normally would on a high tide and can PUSH MORE water out on an outgoing tide, at times even making it feel like a negative tide.
We hope you found this Fishing Outline to be helpful and we truly hope it will better your fishing productivity going forward. Please drop us a note, stop by, or call if we can be of further assistance. This is just a glimpse of what we want to share with you to make you more successful! Trust in us to help you and please contact us anytime for the most up to date fishing report!
Capt Mike Able
Haddrell’s Point Tackle Fishing Team