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Fall Fishing for Redfish in the SC Lowcountry

Two guys stoked on a big fish

Late Fall in the SC Lowcountry brings cooler temps to the area. This also brings cooler water temperatures, which effects the behavior of local plants and animals, as they are preparing for winter. On Hilton Head Island, we notice the birds migrating, the dying of the spartina grass above the water level to preserve its root system, and the spawning of smaller fish that provides nourishment for larger ones preparing for the winter ahead.

In the Hilton Head area, one particular fish that displays interesting behavior this time of year is the Redfish. A part of the state’s heritage, this local fish is also known as Red Drum, Spotail Bass, Channel Bass, or Poisson Rouge. Known as the most famous sport fish in SC., you can easily recognize a redfish because of the spot pattern it has on its tail which is meant to confuse predators as to the location of the fish’s head. Redfish are found in Hilton Head’s waters year-round, but their unique life cycle brings the largest variety of the fish into our waters in the late Fall.


Tips for Red Drum Fishing in Hilton Head Area Waters

Redfish are typically divided into two groups according to their size and age. Weighing in around 10 pounds with a length of 12” to 27”, these “Puppy Drums” can be any color from brown to copper to gold depending on the habitat of the fish. Muddy habitats produce darker color fish while sandy habitats have a lighter gold coloring. They typically live in tidal marshes until they reach the age of 4 to 5 years.

With the abundance of shrimp and small fish in the salt marshes in the late Fall, the Puppy Drums are what folks are fishing for when kayak and flats fishing. In November, the Puppy Drums head to the marshes to catch their prey and to stock up on nutrients for the upcoming winter months. This brings them closer to the water’s surface, where fisherman can actually see them and catch them.

The second group of Redfish is the older, massive “Bull Reds”. These large fish range from 30” to over 5 feet and weigh 25-40 pounds. The largest Redfish on record as being caught was offshore in the Outer Banks. It weighed 95 pounds and was found near Hatteras. Bull Reds have the same spotted tail, but often have a lighter color in tones of reds, pinks, and yellows.

At around 4 years of age, the Redfish grows very fast in a short period of time. Due to this extensive growth spurt, their instinct beckons them to move to deeper offshore waters where they will live for the rest of their lives. Bull Reds are now protected offshore, so fishing for them in the Fall is such a popular activity as Bull Reds come closer inshore to spawn. This is yet another reason to visit our area this time of year.

Learn more about the amazing local Redfish from Outside Hilton Head’s expert guides. Get outside fishing this November for the best catches of the year!

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