February brings excellent fishing

  • Friday, February 15, 2013

Sandra Effler smiles with the biggest fish she’s ever caught. Early February can produce some good-sized redfish and lots of memories. PHOTO PROVIDED

Fishing this Febuary has been excellent. The redfish have been schooled up nicely and the sheepshead have been eating well all around the local waters of the Tri-county area.

Redfish have been schooled up in the hundreds along the banks of the ICW, Cooper and Wando rivers. It’s easy to spot these schools during the low tides. A trolling motor will make this an easy task by simply trolling up the banks lookin for the fish as they huddle up against the oyster beds, grass points and old structure.

You first want to determine which way to run the bank. Always try to have the sun directly behind you as you look out to these areas. It’s simple to spot the fish after seeing a group of them in the water. Sometimes you may not even have to see the fish to confirm they are there. You want to continually look for wakes and nervous water as you move forward.

Always try and pay attention to the birds in the area. Typically where the birds are you’ll find bait and fish. Once you see the fish try and decide which way they are heading. It’s time to start presenting bait to them. One key to this is to always get the bait out in front of the fish. Thus, not spooking them away.

Once you figure out that direction, I’ve been having alot of success with quartered blue craband cut mullet on a modified Carolina rig. This being about 1-inch of flourocarbon, 5/0 circle hook with 3/4 oz egg sinker. This rig gives you just enough weight to get the bait where you need it without making alot of commotion when putting it out in front of the fish.

Sometimes anchoring up next to where the school is moving back and forth is a great idea as well. Keeping the baits in the direction of the school. As the school moves towards you catching a few then waiting for them to come back down the bank again. Typically a school of reds will move within 100 yards of an area. This will have them continually coming towards the boat with a few brief minutes as they swim away after you hook-up.

If you notice they’ve become aware of the boat and aren’t moving as close to you, slowly move up the bank toward them again and set-up. If you can get another boat to anchor 50 yards away from you with the intention of keeping the fish in between the two boats the fish will continually bounce back from one boat to the other in what we call a ping pong effect.

This is a great strategy because you won’t have to wait as long for the fish to come back down the bank towards you after you’ve hooked up. Eventually the fish might shut down from eating and you’ll have to move on to another school of fish.

The sheepshead bite has been really good this winter inshore of the jetties. I’ve been hitting the docks and other structures two hours before low tide and two hours after low tide.

Only difference for me so far this month is the sheepshead have been feeding better on the oysters and clams. We’ve still been catching a few on fiddler crabs, but the majority of the convicts have been taking to the oysters and clams. The bite is somewhat different when using oysters and clams.

I always tell my customers when using them to really watch the line instead of feeling for a pressure of the bite like when using fiddler crabs. The sheepshead tend to grab the bait and swim off.

So, if the line is going up current it’s time to set the hook. Don’t forget that chumming is still a very effective way to getting the bite started at this time of year as well.

Like I always say, just remember that any day on the water fishing in the Charleston area can bring many a smile. Whether you’re catching fish or enjoying the beautiful weather, it’s always nice to be on the water.

(Capt. Brian M. Garris woul love to get you out on the water to enjoy the great resources we have here in Charleston. You can reach him at 843-200-9795 or 843-388-5093. Don’t forget to visit his website at www.reeldealcharters.com for more information or to book your time on the water.)

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