Springtime Fly Fishing along the South Carolina Coast
We are fortunate to have year around fishing options in South Carolina and one of my favorite times of year for flyfishing is in the Springtime when the water begins to warm and the redfish become more active in the shallow waters. Near my home waters of Winyah Bay, the water clarity is generally more favorable between the last few remaining cold fronts the big moon tides which can serve up some of the best flyfishing of the year.
Redfish are the primary target in the shallow creeks and bays as grass shrimp and fiddler crabs begin to emerge from the soft muddy flats. Fly patters vary this time of year but my three favorite flies are the tried and true white Clouser Minnow, black and purple redfish toads, and a hand tied fly I like to call the “Carolina Crab”. This crab pattern is very effective as water temps hit the 60 degree mark, coincidentally when blue crabs begin to molt and they become soft crabs which is a stable part of a redfish diet in Springtime. A typical fishing day may start off with light winds in the am but my lunch time the sea breeze often brings challenging winds so a 9ft, 9wt fly rod is my first rod choice. I also equipment all my fly fishing trips with 7wt and 8wt outfits to have ready for other species like bluefish and sea trout.
Tripletail are becoming a reliable fishing option in April and May and they are a lot of fun to catch on fly fishing gear. Light color, slow sinking flies are needed to present the fly to these fish that appear to be floating under the surface of the water. Tripletail are excellent eating fish that hold their own when it comes to a good fight, therefore they are a popular target for a lot of my fly fishing clients.
Just offshore of the South Carolina coast, False Albacore can be found as they begin to migrate back north. Albacore are generally found in 68 degree water temps in the 40-60ft depths. Sardine flies and clouser minnows with a tad bit of flash are good fly options for South Carolina Albacore. Cobia also begin to show up in April and May which are also a popular flyfishing target on my Springtime fly fishing trips. When we target cobia, we will “run and gun” to find schools of menhaden just off the beach. The nearshore wrecks from 40 to 80 feet of water will also be holding cobia. Black and purple eel patterns are a hot fly for Cobia along the South Carolina coast. Another popular species only found around the wrecks are Amberjacks which never give up easy to fly fishing anglers.
As Summer Time draws near and the muggy nights return, tarpon will begin to show up as they migrate north from tropical waters. Some of my best tarpon fishing days have been in early June as we sightfish to migrating tarpon on the beach. When flyfishing for early season tarpon, a 10 or 11wt rod is enough to handle 50-80lb fish, but encounters with 100+lb tarpon are not out of the question so a 12wt may be needed in some cases. Fly patterns vary this time of year and I have an assortment of colors and size flies that I like to use depending on the conditions.
The downside to fishing in the Spring time is that we often have a lot of windy days, big tides, and heavy rain events but if you time it just right, chances of having a memorable fishing trip are very good. If you are a fly fisherman planning a trip to the South Carolina coast during the Springtime, feel free to reach out to me for more information about fishing this time of year.
-Capt Jordan Pate