Weather has been all over the place here in Hilton Head and Beaufort SC these last couple weeks of April, but we are still getting it done. Redfish, Speckled trout, and Flounder have been our primary targets. Lots of migrating fish moving in and water temps still slowly rising. Schools of bluefish, mackerel, and some triple tail have been seen almost daily. Cobia reports are just starting to trickle in so getting excited for May with some Tailing Redfish Tides on the way too.
When asked what I use for fly gear here in the LowCountry. Here is my explanation. Everything I use is for a performance reason. I like to use Clutch Fly Rods in 8/10/and 12 weights. Everyone who steps on my boat can usually get at least a couple extra feet with them. For me thats key. You have to get that fly to the fish. My reels are Nautilus for my 8 and 10wt. That huge arbor allows bigger pick up ratios but more importantly it allows your fly line to come off in bigger loops which has less tendency for knots during line management. Fly lines are also a huge part. By getting a new high end fly line you can usually get some extra feet right off the bat. Taper will depend on what you are trying to do. The taper on these Arc 99 is a little heavy on the front end. This allows the rod to load with less line out of the tip. Whether beginner or advanced, it brings speed up to those 20-50 foot shots. This tends to be the majority of my conditions. When paired together, (Clutch Tactical Fly Rod and Arc Fly Line) I have found a deadly balance. For me, I have not found a better combination for most of the conditions I fish. Stay tuned for Leaders and Rigging coming soon. #golocofly
Hilton Head’s other grass Tailing reds on grass flats elude most tourists.
June 05, 2014 at 9:00 am | Mobile Reader | Print
Bryan Bowers The better tailing flats for reds are those not too close to popular boat ramps.
Folks from all over the world head to Hilton Head every year in search of one thing; golf. Golf courses, condos, shopping centers, jet skis, and likely the greatest concentration of Ohio license plates outside of Ohio pretty much sums up the Hilton Head experience for most visitors. A lesser known fact is that Hilton Head is also home to some of the best tailing redfish flats in the state.
Hilton Head is sandwiched between the Calibogue and Port Royal sounds and has several small inlets and large creeks that are highways for reds searching for forage on the numerous big flood-tide flats. While all of the flats will contain tailing reds at times, some flats are naturally better than others. Doing a little homework before heading out, experienced anglers regularly find dozens of tails-up reds shortly after leaving the boat landing.
Capt. Mark Nutting (LoCoFlyCharters) credits most of his success to doing homework before scouting out new areas. He said, “I use Google Earth like everyone else, but mostly I use nautical charts when searching for good tailing flats.”
Why use an old fashioned chart when a desktop offers such easy access to maps? The answer is in the available details.
“With a chart, I can see the gradient of the bottom and what the lead-up to the flat looks like, and I can easily find the areas where fish will stage before and after the flood” said Nutting (843-540-7302).
The staging areas are usually pockets of short grass on the edge of the flat or wide, shallow and grassy creeks cutting into the flat. Reds do not just pop up on a flat after it is covered in water, but rather, they will push through the grass on the rising tide searching for fiddler crabs and other critters that are easy pickings in skinny water.
By finding those areas where reds stage, an angler can add to the hours available for sight-fishing instead of just when the water is on the flat.
“The rule of thumb for fishing a tailing tide is an hour-and-a-half before the top of the tide and after, but fish will be in the shallow pockets around a flat for some time before and after, allowing for many more opportunities,” Nutter said.
As soon as the water starts to flood the high grass — or approximately three hours before dead high tide — Nutting is searching those shallow pockets near the flat for reds. The same goes for the outgoing; as long as water is still on those shallow pockets, chances are reds are, too. Many anglers consider tailing tides a two to three hour opportunity at most, but Nutting has found a way to stretch it to almost a full day of sight fishing.
Opinions on the best tide height for tailing reds in the Beaufort/Hilton Head area vary, but the general consensus is 7.5 to 8 feet at the Savannah River entrance. Local angler and fly tier John Holbrook, who does most of his tail-searching on the flats on or near Hilton Head, has come to rely on weather conditions as much as tide-chart predictions for determining when it is go time.
“A lot of time, people won’t even think about flood-tide reds when the chart says it will only be 7.0 or less, but the wind is a big part of tide height, and if it is blowing from the east, offshore, it will be a lot higher than predicted inshore” he said. “Some of my best days chasing flood-tide reds have been when the tide-chart prediction was low but the wind east, and on those days, I had my choice of flats without ever seeing another angler.”
Fortunately, reds do not read tide charts, nor weather reports; their movements are never dictated by what is supposed to be. Any day can be a good day for tailing reds. Even when the water is not high enough to flood the firmer walking flats, the staging areas Nutting likes to target will still hold tailing fish. Also, reds like to push shallow and are not scared to get a little sun on their backs if it means a crab dinner, so anglers on foot can often find a tail or too on the deeper edges of a flat.
High fishing pressure on reds makes sense, but in actuality, the pressure is quite low, at least on the flats farther away from the landings. These lesser-educated reds will readily eat a number of artificials and flies and are much less likely to spook from a poor cast, skiff, or wading angler. Let the hordes of visitors to Hilton Head have their golf and shopping, the real sport is just off the course and often in plain sight of the greens.
Fly Fishing and Spin Fishing the Flats of Hilton Head, Savannah Georgia, and Beaufort South Carolina has been hot and cold. Low Tide has been key, but with great tailing tides on the horizon we are looking forward for some sick tailing redfish here in the low country. Crabs and bait are in full bloom which means we got sweet fishing to come. If your not on the books give this Hilton Head fly fishing guide a call at 843 540 7302.
As we move from our transitional stage with our fishing here in Hilton Head, Beaufort, and Savannah. We are catching fish of all sizes. Warmer temps and baitfish flowing in brings a sense of excitement of things to come. The bite has been turning on and when the wind calms, downright awesome. Stay tuned to a #GoLoCofly fishing season…..
Hilton Head fishing on the Fly
Fishing this winter has been holding strong so far. With great days on the water for trout and redfish in the Hilton Head / Beaufort area. One can only hope we get a nice year with out a trout kill to target some big trout on the flat this season... Photo of Bryan O'Dell Manager of Rivers and Glenn Savannah up to catch a bunch of redfish on fly....
Ryan and Sean are two best friends from Atlanta and Charleston. They make there way down to Hilton Head Island a few times a year to chase what ever swims with me. We had a blast on light tackle and fly catching well into double digits on redfish. Our days on the water are always fun and filled with adventure. #GoLoCoFly
Ryan Rice (Fly Line Media) from Charleston came out in the boat for some red fishing in Beaufort South Carolina. We had a blast going into double digits on fly. Fishing has been good lately and hope it stays for awhile.. #GoLoCoFly
The Hilton Head and Beaufort Chronicles
Winter is upon us…..
As we head into winter I am reminded of the constant changes in our fishery from one season to the next. Seven to eight foot tide swings, both a blessing and a curse, prove challenging in our everyday fishing. Redfish tail on those upper tidal ranges and school up on the lower. Each of our seasons, due to weather, water clarity, and tides, brings its own set of techniques as we constantly change to keep those reds sipping bait imitations. Winter is upon us, marking the lull of tailing redfish in the grass. But with that lull, comes the beauty of huge schools; and seeing five hundred fish on a flat is a wonder in itself.
As our water temperatures drop, the reds become lethargic. Bait flush out of the rivers heading for the “southern cross”, and dolphin hone in on schools of redfish as their primary table fare. Schools become even tighter. As water clarity increases, and temps drop, the reds become as tightly packed as sardines in a can. We no longer have a few eyes to worry about spooking, but a thousand.
One way we can get increasingly lethargic fish to eat art imitating life is to slow down our retrieve. With gin clear water, I like to use more natural-looking flies, and much smaller ones than I would use at other times of the year.
At this time of year, pressure waves from the boat become critical. As we cast those wands and shift our weight back and forth to get those long casts, the movement sends vibrations that fish can feel. I’m sure if I was a red I would be wondering what a great white shark is doing on my flat. Stealth is key. Minimal noise and movement is vital to success.
Every season here in the Low Country brings its own set of marvels and wonders. Winter is one of those seasons that fascinate me. Just how many redfish we have here becomes evident when all of them suddenly school up to enormous sizes. Our redfish emerge from the woodwork and stage up in various places. The sheer quantity is an ecstasy for the eye gazing upon coppery red hues in skinny water.
Some of my best days fishing are in these cold months ahead. They are unique from our other seasons and a little more sporadic. Each season in the Low Country keeps us on our toes as Mother Nature urges us to consistently adapt our ways in order to lure our reds to that "just right" fly. This is just one of the many reasons why I’m so passionate about pescando con moscas. Here is to a loco fly-fishing winter in the Hilton Head/Beaufort stomping grounds and to catching that blue tinted tail in one of those massive schools of redfish.