December Fishing Report for Hilton Head, SC

Hilton Head Redfish

As fisherman one of our greatest challenges is to read conditions out on the water on a daily and sometimes seasonal basis then make changes in the way that we fish in order to figure out how fish are migrating and feeding. Experience is one of the our greatest allies in this endeavor as it allows us to look back on past fishing trips to read present conditions. For example; maybe last year at this time we found a group of fish stacked up within a particular cove on a specific tide and wind and though we have gone back there time and time again we only find those fish there on those particular conditions. This scenario won’t hold true for all spots or groups of fish but the general point is that fishing conditions continuously change and some of the changes can be anticipated but mostly not so much…that’s why its called fishing and not catching right? This year we have gotten a real curve ball with the El Nino event, this is one of the strongest El Nino’s in recent years and we have already seen some of its effects on our fisheries and will likely see more changes over the next few months. For us in the Low Country, we have seen increased cloud cover, rain and higher than normal water temperatures per the time of year. From my observations over the past few months it seems like everything is more or less a month behind schedule which is consistent with the current weather pattens.The fish don’t necessarily understand what an El Nino is, they just react to their surroundings so don’t be surprised to see fishing patterns different than normal well into the new year.

Inshore Fishing:

December offers us some of the best inshore fishing of the year with speckled trout and redfish feeding heavily in preparation for the oncoming winter months. For the specks, I would recommend working the grass edges with weighted curly tail jigs. Cast your jig toward the grass line and allow it to settle to the bottom before retrieving back to the boat. With cooler water temperatures we should have increased water clarity which will allow us to do some serious sight fishing for reds using both light tackle spin and fly fishing gear.

Nearshore Fishing:

Out on the nearshore waters we will still have some good opportunities to catch bull reds as they leave the Sounds and work their way further offshore. Moreover, the wrecks should be coming alive with good numbers of sheepshead, black sea bass and flounder. For the sheepshead a live fiddler crab on a Carolina rig is hard to beat as these fish are well know crab eaters that are generally found holding tight to hard structures. Black sea bass will eat most anything that you put in front of them to include dead/live bait, jigs and even flies and as for the flounder it’s hard to beat a big bull minnow!