WINTER COLUMN: Pros dish tips for flounder, trout and reds at seminar series
Hundreds of anglers packed an auditorium at Charleston Southern University last weekend to hear tips from a panel of local and regional fishing experts.
The Salt Water Sportsman National Seminar Series, led by angling editor and television show host George Poveromo, covered everything from creek fishing to daytime drops for swordfish.
Here are some of the inshore tips offered during the all-day series. Lowcountry captains participating in the inshore discussion included Ben Alderman, Graham Hegamyer, Fred Rourk and Dan Utley.
For more advice from the seminar series, check out the upcoming edition of Tideline magazine, due to hit the streets in early March.
Flounder fishing heats up in May and peaks late fall, with some of the biggest fish usually caught near inlets.
Try targeting flounder on a dropping tide at the mouths of feeder creeks. They’ll usually face into the current, ready to ambush small fish and shrimp being flushed out. Cast up-current of the target zone and bounce lures and baits over it.
Fish shallow for flounder. You can catch relatively large fish, up to 5 pounds or more, in just a few inches of water.
The bigger the bait, the bigger the flounder. Flatfish are voracious, and even smaller fish will attack big baits. Mullet in the 6- to 8-inch range aren’t too big if you’re looking for “door mats.”
When casting jigs rigged with soft-plastic bodies, use as light a jighead as possible — just enough to keep the lure bouncing off or working across the bottom. Lighter jigheads help minimize snags.
Try different styles of jigheads. Since you’ll be fishing around oyster beds and other structures, look for designs that could help avoid snags. Wider, curved jigheads are less likely to angle into crevices, and some are designed to keep the hook point and soft-plastic body angled up and away from the bottom.
When a flounder “thumps” a bait, wait at least a few seconds before setting the hook. Flounder often take some time to eat the bait. When you do set the hook, set it hard.
Flounder usually aren’t alone. If you catch one, keep casting near the same spot.
Trout prefer relatively clear, moving water. Try fishing deep areas on the outside curves in a creek or river.
Fishing live finger mullet, mud minnows or shrimp under floats can be very effective for trout. Adjustable floats help cover the water column.
Use as light a leader as you can get away with when targeting trout. Fifteen- to 20-pound-test monofilament or fluorocarbon leader is more than enough.
Trout anglers typically rely on a variety of artificial lures, from topwater plugs and suspending twitchbaits to DOA Shrimp and the traditional lead jigheads paired with soft-plastic grub bodies.
When fishing artificials. bring a variety of color schemes and keep switching out until you find what the trout are biting that day. In general, fish dark-colored lures in dark water, light-colored in light water.
When you catch one trout, keep fishing that area. Most smaller trout (even keepers) are schooled up. Savvy anglers can stick with a school for some time, catching fish after fish.
Use a loop knot when tying on lures at the end of your leader or line. It will give the lures more action.
A clacking or snapping noise often attracts trout, so try rattling lures and rattle-style “popping” corks.
Trout have relatively delicate mouths and are quick but light strikers. You don’t need a strong hook set, and you should keep drags set light.
Fishing for trophy trout requires different tactics than fishing for smaller schoolies. Larger trout eat fish rather than shrimp, so try bigger topwater or suspending plugs and large, live baits such as croaker and mullet.
It’s easiest to pattern redfish on falling tides. As the water drops out of flats and marshes, reds concentrate in certain areas. As water rises, they fan out and explore for food.
When redfish are aggressively feeding in the summer and fall, almost any bait or lure can catch them. In cooler months, gauging the proper size and presentation of baits becomes much more important. Anglers often scale down the size of lures. They also fish these baits very slowly, sometimes giving them just an occasional twitch.
Redfish are homebodies. The same schools can be found in the same general areas throughout the year, often year after year. The Lowcountry holds a number of large bays and sounds with large schools of such resident bass. Savvy fishermen take the time to thoroughly learn one area and figure out how the reds move and behave at different tidal stages.
Fish shallow: Spottail bass tend to stay in a foot or so of water.
Be stealthy when stalking redfish in shallow water. There’s a reason most professional guides have poling platforms on the back of their flats boats: Even trolling motor can spook a school.
Reach Matt Winter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-5568.