The Hunt for Fish

THE  Hunt for FISH

The hot, humid days of late summer make it a great time of year for wading or boating saltwater flats. An early morning or late afternoon high tide gives a sufficient amount of water for wading and boating to find an array of fish and other life. These flooded flats are often teeming with fiddler crabs and other small bait that many fish enjoy. Saltwater flats offer anglers the opportunity to hunt fish by sight fishing and to watch them take the bait you offer.

The most commonly targeted fish in the Lowcountry is the red drum. Many anglers along both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts pursue the bent rod from a redfish. Management of these fish through slot sizes, re-stocking, and the transition to a non-commercial fish have helped lead to the growth in population and recovery of these beautiful fish. Higher tides and flood tides make flats a haven for reds. Anglers will look for pushing wakes through the marsh or the glimmer of a tailing red. A tailing redfish, or tailer, refers to the tail of the fish breaking the water’s surface as it digs into the mud on the hunt for food.

Reds are known for eating mainly crabs, shrimp and other crustaceans but are always ready to try new baits, jigs and lures. I enjoy throwing a Redfish Magic spinnerbait with a Zman new penny paddlerz. Always make sure to cast your baits and lures in front of the fish. Casting onto the fish or in close range of the fish will spook them and sometimes run them away. Cast in front of the fish, bringing the bait slowly into their path, so they have the opportune time to attack the bait.

Rod and reel combos for fighting reds can range anywhere from an ultra-light rod with a 2500 reel and light line to medium rods with a 4500 reel and heavier line. Some anglers also like the option of fly-fishing the flats. For flats, my combo of choice would be a 7’2” Wright & McGill medium rod with a 2500 Shimano Stradic cI4+ using 15-pound green Power Pro. I enjoy this set up because it is a light weight combo that lets me feel what is happening on the end of my line and allows for a fun fight on a good redfish.

Speckled trout, like red, enjoy the marsh and flats as a means for food. Trout, a member of the drum family, tend to feast on shrimp and other crustaceans and choose larger bait as they grow in size. Zman trout tricks on a trout eye jig head are a great option for catching trout. The same combos used for fishing for reds are, more often than not, also used when targeting trout.

Another great option during high tides, for both redfish and trout, are top-water lures. There is a wide variety of top-water options in many sizes and colors. A Heddon Spook Jr. with a red head is always my go-to top-water lure.

Flounder is another popular flats fish in South Carolina. While anglers hunt for the motion of the grass or the shine of a blue tail, flounder lay in wait in a hunt of their own. Unlike reds and trout, they don’t chase their dinner, they wait for dinner to come to them. Sometimes when wading or poling a flat, you can snag a flounder if you set your lure along the bottom and reel slowly, bringing the dinner to them.

Whether wading or poling the flats, it is one of the most exciting and challenging ways to fish inshore in the Lowcountry. Be certain to keep up-to-date with all rules and regulations, and make sure to enjoy the hunt. Visit us at Palmetto State Armory in Mt. Pleasant and ask any questions or let us help you stock up for some flats fishing!

Courtney Downing

Palmetto State Armory