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July 1, 2012, Outdoors column by Matt Winter, Tideline magazine. Tips for Fourth of July fishing, jetties, dolphin offshore, trout

The boat ramps will be packed to the gills this week with Fourth of July vacationers heading on the water.

Stay safe out there, and be particularly careful on July 4. Fireworks displays will be rocking Charleston Harbor and the Cooper River at North Charleston’s Riverfront Park. Boaters can expect huge flotillas and a mad rush before and after the shows.

Be patient at the ramps, and stay on the defensive when you’re running. Don’t expect other boaters to follow the rules — there will be plenty of novices at the helm this week.

For those looking forward to spending some vacation time fishing, here are some best-bets for inshore and nearshore fishing, provided by a few of Tideline magazine’s best sources:

Scott Hammond, manager of Haddrell’s Point Tackle and Supply in West Ashley: If there’s a break in winds, small-boat anglers could cash in on a dolphin bonanza in just 100 to 130 feet of water.

Hammond took his center console out last weekend and ran into tons of life and “the prettiest colbalt-blue water I’ve ever seen it in 100 foot.”

While bigger boats fishing 50 to 60 miles or more offshore had a tough time finding fish, those just 25 to 30 miles offshore caught plenty of dolphin.

“These were pretty fish, too, not slingers,” Hammond said. “All 15- to 20-pound fish. Nothing big, but nothing small.”

Hammond’s great day included a few smaller wahoo catches, and they even saw a small but aggressive sailfish working their baits.

“The thing was still in diapers,” Hammond said with a laugh. “He was probably 12 to 15 pounds, tops. He was a cute little bugger.”

Hammond said all their fish were caught by trolling SeaWitch skirts rigged with small ballyhoo.

Capt. John Irwin, FlyRight Charters ( Irwin says the trout fishing’s been awesome, especially in the mornings.

“If you’re new to fishing and wanted to catch some fish, that would be pretty productive thing to do.”

Irwin recommends DOA Shrimp lures rigged under popping corks. Cast them up along the grass marsh grass and give them a good pop every once in a while.

The trout bite should be strong at just about any tidal stage, as long as the water’s moving at a good clip, he says.

Capt. Jamie Hough of Flat Spot Charters ( Hough didn’t hesitate when asked for his best bet for this week: “They need to hit the jetties with 20- to 30-pound tackle and a live well full of mullet or menhaden and some live blue crabs. Two of those three, at least.”

Hough says he’s been tearing it up at the rocks lately, catching giant redfish, sharks and black drum.

He recommends using stout Carolina rigs made with 2 to 3 feet of 60-pound-test leader, with a 4/0 to 5/0 circle hook at one end and a small but strong swivel on the other. Above the leader, thread an egg sinker on the braided mainline. Use just enough lead to keep the rig on the bottom — anywhere from 3 to 8 ounces, depending on current.

Try fishing at Dynamite Hole or along the inside curve of the south jetty. Look for areas where the water pushes through the rocks.

Cast the baited rig near the rocks, then “put it in the rod holder, sit back and have a beer,” Hough advises.

When a fish hits, the circle hook will do its job without the need to set. There should be no doubt when a 40-pound red or black drum hits.

The best part, Hough said, is that if the bite turns off at the jetties, “you’re only a hop skip and a jump from Morris Island.”

Reach Matt Winter, Tideline magazine editor, at 843-937-5568 or matt@

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