Late Summer Playbook | Fishing The Lowcountry

Lowcountry Kayak Fishing | Chris Tweedy | August 2021

August fishing in the Lowcountry brings with it a few unpredictable conditions, but with planning and flexibility, you can keep on catching even through the dog days of summer.

Quick-moving thunderstorms, the afternoon heat, hurricanes, tropical storms, powerboat traffic, inundation of rainwater to the creeks and rivers are all common in August. These variables (or combination thereof) can pop up to wreck havoc with planning your weekends or time off effectively.

Planning all week to chase shallow water reds up a creek only to find them missing in action when you arrive? Wanna go soak bait out in deep holes in Bulls Bay for big redfish and black drum when a steady North wind popped up on your dive to the landing?

If you kayak fish in and around the Lowcountry enough, you know exactly what I mean. Late summer weather is hard to call a few days out and meteorologists seem less capable than ever even predicting real-time local storms.

A solid game plan mixed with adaptability is the single best piece of intangible equipment you can carry in your quiver. As a kayak guide, I’m limited to a 5-hour fishing window with a customer and if something we plan for is not going right, we need to pivot on our game plan to make the trip work out.

Adaptability and not boxing yourself into a corner is the key to turning situations like these into lemonade. If you show up at the landing to entirely different conditions than you foresaw on your phone or in your mind ahead of arriving, being flexible and having what you need to do just that are essential.

Here are a few example of some quick changeups to consider if your original gameplan goes to heck, even if it’s on the way to put your boat in the water.

WIND on coast is higher than expected. 10-15mph winds can blow up to 25+, making kayak fishing a bear in the open water. This situation can usually be avoided by looking closer at the weather nearer your landing than your home. Wind in Summerville can be significanltly lighter than on the actual coast so if you drive from 40 minutes inland, check the wind at Charleston Harbor not at Charleston International Airport. If needed, change your launch location.

Places like Shem Creek, Bulls Bay, and the Wando River can offer access to both deep open water as well as some sheltered creeks with turns to break up the wind. Pick a spot that has flexibility built in. We’re lucky most of the public landings in town are only 5-10 minutes apart, so a move on the fly is always an option.

BIG STORMS and HURRICANES rip through and everyone is staying the fishing is turned off. Fish don’t go on strike, they simply ADAPT or MOVE, just like you should.

If there’s a huge influx of freshwater or mucky conditions and you’re fishing the same places you would on any normal day, the fishing isn’t wrong you are. There’s always going to be more salinity and less lingering effects from rain the closer to the actual ocean you get.

If a Cat 2 hurricane dumps 8 inches of water on us in 3 days, way up at Bushy Park is not the place to find your regular trout bite for a while.

Think and adjust, heavy rain will drive the fish deeper and closer to open water so places like the Harbor or the backside of the islands and off the ICW become the places where the water fish want will be found until conditions return more to normal.

HEAT has a big impact on us as well as the fish. The time of day in the summer, as much as the tide, can impact where fish will orient as much as anything. Move your fishing activities to when YOU’D want to be most active (very early morning, cloudy days, evening) and find time to go when you find it most comfortable and you’ll likely see the fish agree.

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Bringing it all together  

To make situations like these work, having what you need to cover a few fishing scenarios is the best advice I can offer. Unless I’m headed out with customers targeting something very specific (like flood tide tailing reds), I always have the gear I need to switch a trip from one gameplan to another in short order.

That means carrying more tackle in my truck than will be used for the trip and that cover a wide array of options that cover bait as well as artificial fishing.

I have a box ready to go with jigheads that can be used with either Zman plastics or thrown tipped with bait, various sizes of hooks to catch bream and sheepshead all the way up to bull reds and sharks, a selection of lead from split shot up to 2oz egg sinkers, various swivels, leader line from 10 to 40 lbs.

Having cast nets and minnow buckets with me allow for a quick change and the option to match the hatch on bait fishing. I’ll keep another box with hard-body lures like topwater, suspending twitch baits, and even crankbaits, spoons, cuda tubes, and spinnerbaits for finicky reds or if we see some Spanish mackerel busting on the surface.

The key is to think of anything you can possibly encounter and try to plan ahead.

I say to my fishing buddies and customers that we’ll take whatever we’re given in terms of conditions and whatever the fish and nature offer in terms of opportunity. It’s this element that will dictate your success.

Challenging convention is also paramount to growing as an angler and the tricky weather and patterns we deal with during the Lowcountry’s late summer offer the perfect opportunity to experiment with different techniques.

Get out there on the water and figure out what you can make work given what you know and whatever tools you have to work with, ou might be surprised by the results!

Reach out to me on the Coastal Angler Charleston Facebook page and share what you’ve learned in terms of adapting this summer and be sure to look for my video reports online or drop any questions you might have about your own experiences.

You can also hit me up if you need any help or have any questions!

Thanks for reading and tight lines,

Chris Tweedy, Owner/Operator
Topwater Kayak Charters

For a kayak fishing charter you will never forget give us a call at 843-906-7112 or check us out on Facebook or at



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