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Ready, Set, Bait

By Geoff Bennett for The Island Eye News

The angler is John Davidson from Pittsburgh, PA. The 10lb redfish was caught with cut mullet fished on the bottom.

One of the warmest winters on record has our fishery set to get going early this year. You could even say it never fully turned off as days in the 70s have kept water temperatures far higher than normal. Bait fish that are usually nonexistent have been present and kept the redfish active. Trout should be ramped up and ready to go in March. It’s time to break out your rods and reels and get ready for a great season!

Having spent the last few months laying low and avoiding dolphins, redfish are no longer just focused on simply surviving, but now on feeding as well. Low tide will be the best time to focus on big schools of redfish that can number in the hundreds. These fish are still pretty wary, so a quiet approach is very important. On many days, it pays to settle in one spot when you find a school and wait for them to return to you instead of pushing them away.

When these reds are being spooky, I’ll try to disturb them as little as possible by keeping my casting to a minimum. This is a time to fish with bait on the bottom.

I’ll put a chunk of blue crab or frozen mullet on a size 3/0 circle hook and just let it sit until the redfish swim over it. Make sure the barb of your hook is fully through the bait and exposed. Place your rod in the rod holder and wait for it to whip over once the circle hook sets itself.

As trout begin to appear, popping corks cast along grass banks and over oyster beds will be a good bet paired with mud minnows. I usually pair a size 1 circle hook with an 18”-24” fluorocarbon leader. While there is no shortage of options, I use oval shaped corks that are heavier and can be cast further. When using a popping cork, do your best to keep slack out of your line and when that cork goes under just reel to set the hook. You’ll find that the circle hook seldom misses as long as your line is tight.

See you on the water!

 For a decade, Capt. Geoff Bennett has operated Charleston Charter Fishing providing light tackle charters. Clients choose from a full menu of artificial and live bait fishing options with charters tailored to their desires. USCG licensed and insured, Capt. Bennett is committed to providing a safe and enjoyable charter to anglers of all skill levels and ages. For more information, call Capt. Bennett at 843.324.3332, visit his website at  or email him at

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