Spring Fishing

Enjoy an excellent season catching sheepshead and other plentiful fish in local waters.

Photo by Miles Altman

Article by Miles Altman, Bayrunner Fishing Charters

love March. The cold, gloomy winter weather has passed, and signs of the promise of new life are showing across the Lowcountry.

Unfortunately, the crazy deep freeze we had this winter ended the best trout fishing spree we’ve seen in probably 10 years. Limits of large speckled trout were being caught easily, and many anglers finished their trips with the legal limit.

South Carolina’s Department of Natural Resources is asking anglers to release any trout they may catch through September in an effort to help the survivors rebuild the stocks we enjoyed so immensely this fall. So much for the bad news: let’s get back to the promise of spring.

Sheepshead Fish

My favorite fish to catch, bluewater species aside, is the sheepshead. This master bait thief, the most cunning and clever of the inshore species, is currently biting. To coin a worn-out phrase, the best method of hooking one of these tasty battlers is to “hook him before he bites.” Sporting a set of molars that can crush mussels and barnacles with ease, the sheepshead makes taking a tasty fiddler crab off your hook a relatively simple endeavor.

Fiddlers are irresistible to these stocky black-and-white stripe bruisers, so they are the preferred bait. Recommended methods to reel in sheepshead include fishing alongside bridges or pilings with a short leader and an egg sinker above the rig, just enough weight to hold in the current. I use this same rig on the offshore reefs where, if anchored above the structure, you just drop to the bottom and raise the sinker off the bottom just enough, keeping tension on the line along with a keen eye on your rod tip for the telltale tap of a bite.

Once you’ve seen it, chances are you’ve been taken, lol. Rebait and repeat. With an abundant supply of fiddlers and some practice, you’ll enjoy a great battle and some of the best eating fish you’ll wrap your lips around.

Enjoy fishing the waters surrounding Hilton Head Island this spring. See ya out there!

Capt. Miles Altman of Bayrunner Fishing Charters has more than 42 years of experience fishing the waters surrounding Hilton Head Island. Don’t miss the new Finatic boat, which accommodates up to 12 passengers and features a special 3-hour shark/dolphin eco-tour trip. Contact Capt. Miles at (843) 290-6955 to book an unforgettable inshore or offshore charter fishing trip, departing from Shelter Cove Marina.