School is In for Winter Kayak Fishing!

Lowcountry Kayak Fishing | Chris Tweedy | January 2022

Wintertime fishing in and around Charleston provides anglers with tremendous opportunities to hone their presentation skills and learn to entice fish with skill rather than fresh bait.

It’s been a few months now since our charters put away the mullet and turned our focus to chasing redfish in the shallow creeks that warm at low tide on sunny afternoons with artificial baits.

Sight fishing becomes the norm and limits of trout can be found near deeper holes and along the banks adjacent to bigger waters. Finding the fish becomes the challenge and staying on them as the tide ranges forms the game.

The bite becomes picky and the strike zone for the fish shrinks a bit, so if you want to spend your time learning how to find the most popular inshore fish this winter, here’s how we do it at Topwater!

Our winter kayak charters for redfish can happen at most any tide with different strategies for where and how to find the schools of fish at high and at low tide.

Our high tide search is typically along the edges of flats and grass edges, places where a big school of fish can have some degree of protection from roaming pods of dolphins and diving birds.

Low tide finds us searching skinny water in the creeks, with how far you need to look depending on what your creek holds.

Some deeper holds on a creek that gets shallow on the bottom of the tide provides a great cover for fish holding up in the marsh at low tide, both for their own protection as well as forage and warmth, as the mud warms up in the mid-day sun on colder days.


It’ll be feast or famine if you’re not able to locate the schools, so look for active birds, moving/popping bait on the surface, or the telltale wakes of reds cruising with the tide.

If you can get up on the school, you should be able to pull several or more fish from it provided you can keep as stealthy as possible.

Speckled Trout
Trout are a little less predictable than redfish and the search can sometimes be infuriating for both the casual and expert angler.

On the higher end of the tide cycle, most trout success comes from beating the grass line in bigger current areas.

To accomplish this, we’ll set up a drift along a bank in the kayaks, working with the direction of the tide and look for water with the highest degree of clarity to find these visual feeders.

Along a bank, this clear water can be anywhere from directly against the grass to 10-15 yards off the bank, so if success eludes you within the 3-4ft line along the grass, make some casts to deeper water and see if they’re hoding just off the bank in deeper water or more current.

At the bottom of the tide, I’m looking for structure…namely areas in proximity to dead shell mounds, islands, and spots along the bank where the shells form a beach.

Again, the fish won’t always be where you think they should be, so cast to various depths and angles to help narrow your search.

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Once you find the fish and the bite slows, it’s a good idea to spread your casting around as they may adjust their holding place as the tide creeps in or out.

Now that we have some idea of where to look, what we use to get them to bite is up to you. I’m a huge believer in throwing your own confidence bait, whatever that is for you.

Anglers can swear by only topwater, only this jig, only this line, etc., but really it all works and especially so if you trust that statement. For me, Zman Minnowz profile paddletail baits on a ned-rig style jig offer the best result to me and my customers.

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Gulp, DOA, topwater, and hard-bodied lures also work and your proficiency and/or interest in a particular selection will go a long way toward your successful outcome.

Folks constantly ask what the specific weight of my jigs are and my answer is constantly just enough to get to the bottom and hold.

Color is the angler’s choice, and my philosophy is to present natural looking stuff in clearer water and crazy colors in stained water, simple as that. Colors catch anglers not so many fish, look at the 25,000 options that bass anglers need to catch one fish and you’ll see it’s all about marketing.

Best way to catch fish is to put the phone down and do it, as most folks on YouTube offer more fluff than any real skill they have to demonstrate.

Lastly, wintertime is no joke on the weather and conditions, so stay warm and dry and most of all don’t play games with your life jacket in cold water. Hope these tips help your winter catching and if not, you can always give us a call at Topwater Kayak Charters at 843-906-7112 for some help along the way!

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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