Typically, January and February bring the coldest water temperatures to our local waters. However, Winter has yet to make an appearance in the Lowcountry and the water is unusually warm. So, the fishing pattern is more like Fall than Winter. This is good news for anglers. Trout and Redfish are schooled up and feeding aggressively in shallow water.
On Saturday, it was super windy and rainy. With gale force winds blowing against the tide, there were some big waves in the Wando River. On the run to my first fishing location, I was thinking I should have brought by surfboard. Some of the waves look rideable. No worries for my Pathfinder 2500. The run to Hobcaw Creek was fast and dry. On breezy days, Hobcaw Creek is a good option because it has lots of trees that provide protection from the wind. After pulling up to a wind sheltered shoreline, I deployed the trolling motor and began systematically casting a Z-Man Finesse TRD (Hot Snakes) on a 1/5-ounce jig to oyster bars and irregularities in the marsh. Trout and Redfish were both in residence. They were not particularly large specimens but on such a windy and rainy day, they were most welcome. Nearly all of the strikes were aggressive and occurred in shallow water. The long-term weather forecast is for more warm weather. If the forecast holds true, fishing should be very good in the shallows.
The Cold-Water Fishing Class is full. The response has been overwhelming. Perhaps at some point this Winter, we will actually have cold water!
During the summer, our rivers and creeks can become pretty crowded. Especially, on weekends. With the heat index consistently above 100 degrees, the inshore waters can also be uncomfortable. In the Lowcountry, late summer is unbearably hot. Subsequently, I have been fishing more in our nearshore waters. Less people. Cooler temperatures. Lots of fish. What’s not to like?
While my Pathfinder 2200 TRS 22-foot bay boat handled the nearshore waters quite well, there have been times when I felt the need for something a little larger. So, this week, I took delivery of a Pathfinder 2500 Hybrid, which is specifically designed for nearshore fishing. Between taking delivery and rigging of the new boat, I have not been fishing much. Thankfully, Kyle Thaxton has been fishing in the Wando River and provided a great fishing report. Kyle says the Redfish are around and biting natural baits. Look for them along shallow depth transitions and oyster bars. Kyle loves to fish. Kudos to his Dad for taking him.
Yes, it is heat stroke hot. But, as Kyle reports, the fishing is still very good. Both Kyle and I recommend getting out early. Right now, the Charleston Harbor water temperature is above 85-degrees. The water temperature in the rivers and creeks is even higher (especially in the afternoon). High water temperatures can cause the fish to be somewhat lethargic. So, the optimal fishing time is during an early morning incoming tide. The influx of cooler water and low light conditions will often produce the best bite of the day. If by chance the bite does not materialize, at least you won’t get heat stroke!
Thanks again to Kyle Thaxton for the fishing report. Kyle, keep fishing with your Dad. Then, when you grow up and your Dad grows old, take him fishing.
Fishing this past week was slow. So slow, that I do not have a picture that goes with this article! That’s pretty slow. Poor fishing is usually followed by a series of bad excuses. Here are my top 5.
Excuse Number 1. Unusually high tides made for poor water clarity. When fish cannot see the lure, it is certainly hard for them to eat it.
Excuse Number 2. I hurt my back while helping my daughter move. This reduced my fishing efficiency. When your back hurts, riding around in a skiff is a lot less fun.
Excuse Number 3. After years of fishing (nearly every day), I have come to the realization that fish are simply smarter than me. Deep down, I think I always knew this. However, this week removed all doubt.
Excuse Number 4. It is hot out there. When the water temperature is 88-degrees and the heat index is in triple digits. Fish lose their interest in biting and anglers lose their interest in fishing. Well, at least I do.
Excuse Number 5. I am a big soccer fan and the World Cup was on. Subsequently, I fished around the television schedule verses the optimal time and tide. This is a sure-fire way to catch less fish.
As I look forward to the coming week, the tides will begin to normalize. My back is on the mend. Cooler temperatures are forecast. I feel a little smarter and the World Cup is over. It is time to go catching!
How do you know when it is Summer in the Lowcountry? Easy, you have a heat index over 100 degrees and severe thunderstorms pretty much every afternoon. Last week, I experienced both conditions, much more closely than I would have preferred. My brother-in-law, Mike Balduzzi, was visiting from Annapolis, Maryland. Mike loves to fish and is a very accomplished angler. So, we planned to fish as much as possible during his visit. On Wednesday afternoon, a heat advisory was posted and severe thunderstorms were predicted. However, the weather radar was completely clear. No thunderstorms were in the area. Given a clear radar loop, Mike and I decided to go fishing. Bad idea. Very bad idea.
After launching the skiff, we double checked the radar and it was all clear. It was however incredibly hot. Underway, the breeze made it feel much more comfortable. So, we ran a long way (well past the Highway 41 bridge). Bad idea. Very bad idea.
Upon our arrival at the designated fishing location, a very small and shallow creek, we spotted a few Redfish in a narrow channel. The water temperature was 91 degrees. The air temperature was much higher. In such hot conditions, it is difficult to get a Redfish to eat a lure. After several minutes in the creek, we were both drenched with sweat. I stopped fishing to get a cold drink. Mike kept on and to his credit got a fish to bite. While he was fighting the fish, we heard thunder off in the distance. After a quick picture, we released the fish and checked the Radar on our phones. A giant thunderstorm was forming right over Daniel Island. We decided to try and beat it back to the boat landing. Bad idea. Very bad idea.
The storm hit us about half way back. The rain was blinding and lightning was striking all around us. To make matters worse, a cold 30-knot wind began blowing against the tide and kicking up big and steep waves. Operating a small skiff in big steep waves is a bad idea. Very bad idea.
Thankfully, we survived the storm (just barely). Mike and I both agree that we were very lucky. So, take it from us. When the forecast predicts severe thunderstorms, fishing is a bad idea. Very bad idea.
In my mind, Fathers deserve more than a day. So, the bulk of last week was dedicated to me! Thankfully, my children Elliott and Maddie were willing participants. Probably, because they declare “Birthday Week”.
Of course, “Fathers Week” includes lots of fishing. On Saturday, there was a negative (extremely low) tide. Elliott and I decided to fish in small creeks, targeting Redfish that were concentrated into small areas due to the very low tide. This can be a dicey plan. Fishing in small creeks on negative tides usually equals getting stuck. However, my new Salt Marsh skiff was able to navigate through water less than six inches deep. We slowly and quietly moved into a tiny creek and spotted a couple of big Redfish milling around an oyster bar. Elliott said since it was Fathers Week, I could take the first cast. Once cast was all it took. I presented the Z-Man TRD (Geko rigged) and hooked up immediately. Fighting a big Redfish in a shallow creek can be a messy affair. With no place to run, the fish frantically sloshes about the shallows and splashes mud into the skiff. This one was particularly adept at splashing mud. For some reason, Elliott and I found this to be very funny. Eventually, the Redfish got tired of splashing us with mud and came to the skiff.
After a quick picture, we took several minutes to revive the fish. As it swam away, Elliott wished me a Happy Fathers Week. Upon returning to the boat landing, Maddie greeted us and took me to lunch (while Elliott cleaned up the skiff). Fathers Week was pretty good. I highly recommend it!
Rough seas and tough fish combined to put a hurting on me this weekend. On Monday, I was feeling so beat up that I actually skipped fishing! Fighting Amberjack on 30 pound class Shimano jigging tackle is a pretty good work out. Note to self. Go to the gym more often.
Wind and rain made fishing this week a bit of a challenge. The combined weather elements made for extremely poor water clarity. This shut down the Trout bite and made casting lures or flies to Redfish in the shallows nearly impossible. Fishing was tough but not nearly as tough as the drive from Mount Pleasant to Daniel Island!
On Sunday, my son Elliott and I set out to catch a Redfish on the fly. Conditions were not optimal. Shoot, they were downright awful. Light rain, strong wind and poor water clarity had us considering a change of plans. However, we decided to stick with the original plan. Regardless of how difficult it would be. Turns out, difficult was an understatement.
The water clarity was like chocolate milk. We could not see Redfish swimming in water that was less than a foot deep. Sight fishing was a total bust. Rather than give up the quest for a Redfish on the fly, we decided to slowly pole the shallows and cast to feeding activity (shrimp and baitfish jumping). This time of year, shrimp and baitfish are jumping everywhere. So, we ended up casting the fly literally everywhere. Back in the days when Elliott and I were tournament fishing, we called endless casting with no bites “grinding”. That is exactly what we did. Move and cast. Move and cast. Move and cast.
After a few hours of grinding, our spirits were low. I recommended that we quit and go eat a late lunch. Elliott was not ready to throw in the towel. We kept on. Move and cast. Move and cast. Move and cast. Then unexpectedly, a Redfish managed to see and eat the fly. Elation!
Fish was slow. But, it sure beat sitting in traffic!
After a cold and windy March, it seems Spring has finally arrived in the Lowcountry. The water temperature is now in the middle 60-degree range. Baitfish have returned to the creeks. Redfish, Trout and Flounder are actively feeding. Fishing is very good now and getting better with each passing day.
Last week, it was still a bit cool and breezy. However, the fish did not seem to mind. After a long and lean Winter, predators were making up for lost time and missed meals. Throughout the cold months, one of the most productive lures has been a Z-Man TRD Ned Rig. As an experiment, I plan to continue using the Ned Rig in the Spring. So far, results are promising. Redfish, Trout and Flounder have been crushing it. Bouncing the lure slowly along shallow depth transitions has been highly effective. In clear water, The Deal has been a good color. For areas with poor water clarity, the Bubble Gum color works best.
For the next few weeks, I will alternate back and forth between the TRD Ned Rig and my favorite lure the StreakZ 3.75. It will be interesting to see which lure produces best in a variety of conditions. If you would like to learn more about rigging and using both of these lures, please plan to attend my fishing class on April 21st. The event is being held at the Pierce Park Pavilion from 10:00 till noon. After the class, lunch will be provided. Additionally, there will be breakout sessions on casting, rigging soft plastic lures and tying fishing knots. The class is free. However, I am asking attendees to consider a donation to the Lucy Boyle Memorial Fund or the Respeck Initiative (that is working to restore our Trout stocks after the die-off caused by the snowstorm). If you would like to attend, please confirm your seat with an email to email@example.com.
Now that we have set our clocks forward, there is an extra hour in the afternoon to go fishing. Recently, Elliott and I took advantage of the additional daylight and released a few Redfish On The Fly. It was a little breezy but my Shimano Asquith 8 weight made presenting the fly effortless. The Reds were hungry. The sunset was beautiful. Another great fishing trip with my son.
The Ralston Creek boat landing is closed for renovations until the end of March. Thankfully, the Beresford Creek boat landing is still open. While it only takes a few minutes to launch in Beresford Creek and then run around Daniel Island to the Wando River (where I fish most of the time), I have decided to take the month of March and learn more about fishing in the Cooper River area. My first trips have been very promising.
On Monday afternoon, I decided to fish in Clouter Creek. The tide was falling and about an hour away from dead low. This provided me the opportunity to see oyster bars that are normally covered during higher stages of the tide. Most of the oyster bars were dry or in very shallow water. A few were in water between 1 and 5 feet deep. These were the bars that I spent a little time fishing around. Redfish were feeding near the shallow bars. I could easily seem them sloshing around. A quick cast of a StreakZ 3.75 on a 3/16-ounce Finesse Jig produced a solid strike. The Reds were not particularly large but they were hungry and plentiful. After releasing a few, I went in search of Trout.
The Trout were a bit more spread out. Most were congregating at the base of oyster bars in deeper water. Each deeper bar seemed to hold a fish or two. By hitting a few bars, I managed to release a decent number of Trout. The size of the fish was larger than what I have been seeing in the Wando. Most were 16 to 18 inches long and I released a few approaching the 20-inch mark.
I love fishing in the Wando River. However, the Cooper River area is growing on me!