Outdoors

Stokes: Fish are starting to bite around Lowcountry

rodcrafter@islc.netApril 20, 2013 

Fishing made a huge turnaround last week and most species are on their spring forge for food and habitat.

Spottail bass are hitting lures, baits and flies, which makes outings more rewarding. Tailing singles have remained elusive but large schools are running shoulder drops along the flats and shoveling shallows near grass banks.

Sheepshead are holding close to structure around deep water, and large returns are being taken. Rocks and old wood are excellent choices to drop a few fiddlers. While crabs are good targets, oyster and live shrimp are also showing good marks for these bandits.

Fish are focused on gorging themselves before another weather change. At the beaches and lagoons, a good number of anglers have found whiting and spots to be active. Small gold hooks tipped with red worms and thin cuts of shrimp are preferred.

Trout have returned to shallow water at 6-foot depths and are holding tight against the grass. Some nice catches of 20-inches-plus fish have been taken along feeder creeks where grass and sand banks join.

Flounder are in the mud and sandy shallows and are easily moved with a trolled rig for the purpose tipped with mud minnows.

OUTSIDE ACTION

There have been huge schools of stingrays along the boundaries of the channel markers, which is a sure sign large cobia are not far behind. Two were taken from the Combahee Cut on cut bait and two more hit, but were lost from channel markers in Port Royal Sound. The anglers reporting were after shark, but welcomed the addition to their trip.

Further offshore, catches have been slow to ink since most fishermen have spent their time on the water and not calling or making reports for those of us yet to make the venture.

Additional catches from deeper waters included wahoo and scattered runs of blackfin tuna. Peanut dolphin and a few heavyweights have broken the surface around floating grass and surface debris that creates shadows. The sheepshead bite is strong from offshore wrecks and structure. Strikes are hard, as the fish are holding on to baits longer for hooksets.

MOST ACTIVE

Presently, the big surprise is black drum. Large fish are being taken from deep holes and tapered drops close to oyster beds and bridge and pier pilings.

A cousin of the spottail -- or redfish, as some like to call them -- black drum are both large and plentiful. However, fish in the 5- to 10-pound range make better table fare.

Black drum generally show in good numbers during early spring to spawn and will hit crab, mussel, small fish on occasion, shrimp and oyster. Your rigs need to be strong and your backs stronger, as many fish normally are above the 60-pound mark or heavier. While they are also taken from offshore, large and plentiful catches have shown closer to shore structure recently.

ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY

The Coast Guard Auxiliary boating class will be held on May 4, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Waddell Mariculture Center in Bluffton. This course will satisfy your requirements for the SC Boater Education Card.

Contact Hal Blaisdell at 843-705-5424 or email vesselexaminer@hotmail.com.

CLOSING THOUGHT

"It is admirable for a man to take his son fishing, but there is a special place in heaven for the father who takes his daughter shopping." -- John Sinor

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