May 12 2016
When picturing fishing charters in Hilton Head, most of us think of large boats heading off the coast for some deep sea action, which is true for the most part. Whether it’s fishing the inshore areas for some Redfish or offshore for some Cobia or Amberjack, most fishing charters around Hilton Head fish from the boat.
However, at certain times, another unique type of fishing for Red Drums (a.k.a. Redfish or “Reds”) opens up.
Called “Tailing the Tides” by some charters, this type of fishing involves wading around glass flats in really shallow water that occurs during particularly strong high tides.
Continue reading for a brief description of this type of fishing, along with additional information on how fishing charters interpret the tides around Hilton Head when targeting Redfish.
If it sounds a bit precise, that’s because it is. However, once you get used to presenting your bait in the right way, catching Redfish this way will be way much more fun.
At certain times during the lunar cycle, the full and new moon specifically, the high tides around Hilton Head are higher than normal. This causes flooding in marsh grasses that otherwise stay dry, at least relatively speaking.
Bait for Redfish, specifically crabs, love these areas since it shields them from predators, except twice a month when the tides wash in the Redfish who feast on literally thousands of crabs and snails.
Since the water is so shallow, anglers can see the tails of redfish rise out of the water as they enjoy their dinner. This is why many veteran anglers and fishing charters refer to these as “tailing tides.”
When wading around these grass flats area, anglers will see the Redfish’s unique tail with the black dot as it swims in the flooded grassy areas. When they spot what looks like a good Redfish, they will cast their bait so it lands just in front of the Redfish. Since the bait is supposed to imitate a fish’s prey, the Red will think it’s just another crab and take a bite.
While it’s only available at certain times, “Tailing the Tides” gets you up close and personal with the grass flats and Redfish.
If you go ask 50 charters in different areas on the effects tides have on fishing in their areas, you will get 50 different answers.
On the Atlantic coast from Florida through Hilton Head and the rest of the Carolinas, the tides can change the water level 4 to 6 feet during each cycle. When the surrounding area is so flat, this change can lead to some significant currents as the tide rolls in and out.
One benefit for anglers is that this frequency of tidal change makes the Redfish more predictable. As explained by professional angler Ben Alderman:
“These reds travel the same exact routes to and from their low- and high-water haunts with such punctuality, it’s amazing.”
Alderman goes on to explain how he can easily know the exact time a group of Redfish will pass a particular spot on the incoming and outgoing tide. Since the timing for the tides is consistent (…the same tide today occurs 50 minutes later the next day), fishing charters can simply figure out what time they should arrive at their favorite spots for Reds.
If it’s a low tide, the Reds will congregate in whatever water is available. However, when the water level starts rising again and pushes the fish back in, these big groups will begin splitting up as the fish disperse.
In the end, the Redfish are more active during tide changes since this is when their food is on the move. Professional anglers and fishing charters around Hilton Head explain how Reds will sit at the edge of a grass flat during a high tide and wait for the water to get deep enough for them to swim in.
When they do, you can “tail the tide” for some up close and personal Redfish action. There are several fishing charters in Hilton Head who offer these specialized trips and can coach you on properly spotting and presenting your bait. Click here to learn more or contact Capt. Shannon O’Quinn to find out when the next “Tailing the Tides” trip will be.