Some 40 miles off the coast in 90 feet of water, a network of coral, rocky ledges and outcrops holds some of the best fishing available.
Huge American red snapper, grouper, amberjack, triggerfish and a myriad of other smaller snapper and grunts await the fisherman with the ability and means to make the journey.
“Chicken” rigs, two hook bottom rigs, baited with cut squid, entice the vermillion snapper, porgies, grunts and triggers (all excellent table fare) to bite. Larger live baits, like live pinfish, menhaden or scad usually produce the big American reds, grouper or amberjack. Stout rods and reels with heavy drag settings are needed for these larger fish.
The water is much clearer there, a clear green with a hint of blue, unlike our near shore waters.
This mid zone that lies between the beach and the Gulf Stream often holds many surprises for the angler. I have caught redfish, normally an inshore denizen, and sailfish, normally a blue water fish, here. Cobia and flying fish are often seen along with huge sharks. Once I even saw an oceanic sunfish (which remains one of my most memorable trips).
One of the best things about offshore fishing on Hilton Head is the chance to escape the crowds that now make inshore fishing somewhat less than pleasurable. Forty plus years ago when I started fishing these waters, it was rare to see a few boats. Now there are hundreds out there on any given day.
Back then people practiced good manners and sportsmanship.
If you pulled up to your “spot” and someone was fishing there, you went and fished another drop. Now people seem to find nothing wrong with dropping anchor 15 or 20 feet away, casting their bait or lure right where you are fishing. This is not proper etiquette. You should not anchor anywhere that puts you within their casting range. There’s still a lot of water out there, work on finding new spots.
Enjoy the winter, get offshore and do some bottom fishing … if nothing else the solitude is worth it!
Written by Captain Miles Altman of Bayrunner Fishing Charters, who has more than 42 years experience fishing the waters surrounding Hilton Head Island. Don’t miss the new “Finatic” boat, which can accommodate up to 12 passengers and features a special three-hour shark/dolphin eco-tour trip. Contact Miles at 843-290-6955 to book an unforgettable inshore or offshore charter fishing trip, departing from Shelter Cove Marina.