Stokes: Fish movements signal change in Lowcountry weather

rodcrafter@islc.netSeptember 21, 2013 

The majority of gamefish recently have made a few changes to the pursuit. They are moving rapidly between tidal changes to better fishing grounds and following their food source.

With numerous choices for meals, many fish pursued by local anglers have kept things on the edge. What was here yesterday may have moved tomorrow. This is a sign the seasons are beginning to change -- perhaps not in the grand manner of our more northern neighbors, but in the subtleties of the Lowcountry.

The first to recognize the difference will be wildlife and fish species. While shooting sports are more likely to be focused due to the migration, fish do not make such pronounced statements to those who seek their favor. They simply move to better conditions.

With abundant baits of shrimp, minnows, menhaden, mullet and other finned baitfish, many fish will follow their movements. And with the onset of cooler waters and weather conditions, fishing will show a marked improvement during the latter portion of the month.

Among the most active fish during this time are flounder, sheepshead, tarpon, spottail bass, blackfish, trout, Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, bluefish, snapper, grunts, jack crevalle, amberjack and a variety of sharks.

Both inshore and offshore as well as beachfront migrations anglers in their quest will be awarded a mixed bag for their efforts and a few surprises along the way.

Sunday Outlook

The best fishing times for Sunday will be 2:21 p.m. to 4:21 p.m. Weather conditions will be mild, with lows in the upper 60s and a southerly wind from 5-10 mph.

Shellfish Season to Open

The 2013-14 season for harvesting shellfish (clams, oysters and other bivalves) in South Carolina will open Tuesday, Oct. 1, and will remain open through May 15 unless conditions warrant otherwise by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

The recreational limit is two bushels of oysters and a half bushel of clams in any one day, limited to two calendar days per seven-day period. There is a maximum possession limit of three personal limits per boat or vehicle. Clams must be at least 1 inch in thickness.

Additional rules and restrictions may be found in the DNR Rules and Regulations, available where licenses are purchased. (The 2013 shrimp-baiting season opened Sept. 13.)

Feathered Flyers Targeted

The early season for teal will be Sept. 14-29, with a daily bag limit of six birds. Shooting hours are sunrise until sunset (not 30 minutes before sunrise, as with other migratory bird seasons).

Sept. 18-22 and Oct. 5 to Dec. 8 will mark the two-part season for marsh hens, including king, clapper, sora, Virginia rails, moorhens and purple gallinules. The daily bag limit for king and/or clapper rails, moorhens and/or purple gallinules is 15 birds per hunter. The sora or Virginia rail daily limit is 25 birds per hunter. Shooting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise until sunset.

South Carolina migratory bird and early season information may be obtained at www.dnr.sc.gov/hunting.html or by calling 803-734-3886.

Tackle Tip

Be sure you have fished the area thoroughly before moving. Often, fish are spooked with sudden movement or shadows across the surface of the water. They do not always leave but often remain still until the threat has passed. When you unexpectedly make surface shadows or noise, remain in the area and look around -- you may be surprised to find the fish looking back and as equally surprised as you.

Closing Thought

"If all politicians fished instead of spoke publicly, we would be at peace with the world." -- Will Rogers

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