Fall in the low country of South Carolina is my favorite time of year. Cooler weather, football, oyster roasts, what is not to love! The fishing is also at it’s best in the fall. Inshore, the shrimp are large and headed for the ocean – that means shrimp baiting season…unique to South Carolina. Also, the mullet run is in full swing, with huge schools of mullet running the beaches and creeks. The cooler water triggers the game fish that it’s time to forget about spawning and start fattening up for the upcoming winter. The biggest problem in the fall is trying to decide what to do with so many options!
I had a chance to scout some new water this Labor Day weekend, and put to use everything that Ralph has taught me about how to find the fish in a new area. We had many inches of rain the week before (remnant’s of hurricane Isaac) and a full moon – meaning that the tides would be very high and the water would be dirty and less saline than normal.
I was able to find clear water on the incoming tide and the bait was everywhere – along with striking fish – perfect topwater conditions. Each day began an hour before sunrise and I found redfish and trout very aggressive and eager to strike a topwater plug.
My first redfish struck my Skitter Walk plug and missed. I twitched it a few times and it came back and belly-flopped my plug. It immediately ran for the spartina grass. I followed it into the grass with my trolling motor, and then it left the grass into a side creek. It took about 20 minutes to land using my Trout Special rod (light tackle) but I eventually landed my personal best red at 34″ and on topwater. Ended the day with several nice reds and trout on topwater – a great day.
Sunday was a little slower but I still managed a nice red on top. I decided to try to catch one on a fly rod, but was not successful landing one despite a few good strikes. The theme for the day was losing fish. About 4 fish spit the hook – perhaps they were more of a reaction bite rather than a hungry gulp. Towards the end of the morning I was casting a bank and saw something roll. I went closer to investigate and saw what looked like a log. On closer inspection it was definitely a fish, but black. Maybe a black drum? It rolled on its side and I nearly lost my breath. It was a triple-tail of about 6 or 7 lbs! This is a rare fish for inshore, and one of the best eating – or so I hear. I cast my jig rigged with a Gulp Sapphire Shine behind it and dropped it right in front. He picked it up, turned, and bent the rod over double – and spit the hook! Nooooo! Oh well, another “one that got away” story.
Labor day I had my good friend and fishing buddy Ray with me. We hit a familiar flat and had a good bite. We found fish in a few places, and the highlight of the day was this double – a 27.5″ and 30.25″ red both on topwater.
What a weekend! The low country of South Carolina is one of the most beautiful places in the world.