Last Cold Water of Winter

Mid February is traditionally when our waters reach their lowest temps, then begin to rebound for spring.  This is the end of the “seasonal lag” where we get our coldest temperatures in North America.

Lately, the water in the Cooper River has been as low as 47F (surface temps).  I fished on Wednesday 2/17 with my high school friend Scott who comes down to SC a couple times a year.  A couple years ago he struggled with the basics of artificial lure fishing: feeling the bite, managing line, even simply casting.  But now, I’m telling you, he is a legit fisherman.  I was watching where he was choosing to place a cast, and he was spot on.  By this, I mean he was choosing to cast to points, rips, current breaks, etc. It’s pretty cool to witness his evolution.

But, I digress…So the day started out pretty darn good.  Scott caught an upper slot red on his first cast of the day!

On that subject, if you don’t know Ralph – that is a superstition of his.  He will always make his first cast to deep water then reel it in fast…. I don’t share that superstition but I’m sure he comes by it honestly and/or there is a story behind it….

Scott with Redfish 7
Scott with a beauty of a redfish
Rigged MinnowZ
Pearl MinnowZ on Gold Trout Eye jig

Redfish Trout Eye Shirt

Redfish release with DNR tag
Releasing a SCDNR tagged redfish

If you have read my prior posts on cold water fishing, this day completely reinforced them.  The fish wanted a pretty slow presentation, and we found them either not at all, or stacked up on deep structure.

Its always most productive, if you have two or more people fishing on the same boat, to throw different colors and profiles at the same time.  By keeping this up, and changing periodically, you can pretty easily find out what is the “hot” thing for the day.  Recently we have noticed that white colors have been working in the sort of chocolate-colored water with a little bit of clearness to it that we are finding in the creeks lately.  We fished an SSWA tournament last Saturday in brutal cold and windy conditions when we made that discovery.  I was lucky to land a nice 2.5 lb trout on a white lure – our first bite of the day.  We did well on white colors the rest of that day. So, I started out throwing Pearl white Z-Man MinnowZ on a gold Trout Eye jig and Scott chose to use a Gulp 5″ jerk shad in Smelt color.  We fished a long bank and found two distinct locations where redfish were holding.  Each spot yielded about 15 fish all within an area about 20 ft square.  Interestingly, the first spot held fish that were all in two very distinct and consistent sizes.  22″ and 15.5″, with most of them 22″.  No, I’m not going to tell you tourney fishermen where that was 🙂  The second spot, all the fish were right at 26″.  These fish were a lot of fun.  We had a few doubles and the fish were surprisingly fired up and willing to fight.

SSWA Feb Tourney Trout

So, as I said in prior posts, work these areas thoroughly, and when you find the reds, you will often find a pile of them.

Overslot double – trying to get ready before camera timer is tough

Later we moved up some creeks and found a few decent trout, 8 to be exact, with the smallest one about 7″ and the largest 18″.  The range of sizes was encouraging since many year-classes were represented in the creek.  This winter will have almost no trout die-off due to cold water it seems.  The bite was in the deep middle of bends in the creek and was barely perceptible, just a slight resistance.  The trout were caught on 3.75″ StreakZ in Opening Night color (ie. white).

Dave with Trout
Nice 18 inch February trout

Scott and I had one of our best days of catching, and made a few new memories.  I know he will be looking forward to his next visit!

Trout with StreakZ


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