How to Catch Redfish in Charleston, South Carolina (2023)

Charleston, South Carolina, is renowned as one of the most popular fishing destinations in America, attracting anglers from all over the country. Among the many species that draw fishing enthusiasts to this area, redfish (also known as red drum) stand out as a top target. The confluence of swamp rivers and marsh rivers in Charleston creates a unique environment that combines world-class freshwater fishing with world-class saltwater fishing.

In this article, we will explore the techniques and strategies for catching redfish in Charleston, South Carolina. We will join Captain Justin Carter, a full-time fishing guide and tournament-winning angler, as he takes us on a virtual tour of the Low Country. Captain Carter specializes in skinny water fishing from a kayak and boat, making him an expert in navigating the briny waters of the southeast.

The Importance of Tides in Redfish Fishing

Living and fishing in the brackish water of the southeast, Captain Carter's schedule is dictated by the tides. Every six hours, the water rushes into the shallows before turning around and draining out to sea. Understanding and timing the tides is crucial for finding fish on the feed. A miscalculation can result in missed opportunities.

The regular ebb and flow of millions of gallons of water in the expansive marshes and mudflats of Charleston dictate the schedule of every coastal creature, including the redfish. As the tide rises and falls four times each day, the current changes direction, flooding the creeks and marshes before draining back towards the ocean.

Sunrise and Preparation

As the sun rises over the East Coast, the marsh flats of Charleston do little to block the morning rays. On this fishing excursion, we join Captain Carter and his friend Morgan Mason, an experienced outdoorsman and writer. They prepare their Hobie fishing kayaks for the day's adventure.

Captain Carter, with his years of experience, moves with practiced efficiency as he stows rods in the back of his Hobie Pro Angler 14. Despite the early hour, his easy movements reveal the many similar mornings he has spent as a professional guide and tournament angler. Carter's dedication to his craft has earned him accolades such as the International Fishing Association Kayak Angler of the Year and National Champion.

Exploring the Marshes

With their kayaks loaded and ready, Captain Carter and his companions launch into the dark water, taking advantage of the early morning hours. They navigate narrow channels in the sea grass, chasing the guide through the maze of marshes. The urgency is driven by the dropping tide, which reveals the topography of the flats and concentrates the fish in tighter areas.

As they paddle through the marsh, Carter explains the significance of the tide in his fishing endeavors. Tide influences every aspect of his fishing strategy, determining when and where he will fish. The ebb and flow of the water shape the behavior and movement of the fish, making it essential to align their fishing efforts with the tides.

Fishing Techniques and Gear

Once they reach their desired location, Captain Carter and his companions settle into a routine of casting and retrieving. Carter utilizes a long pole to push his kayak, allowing him to stand up and gain a better vantage point. This elevated position provides him with a broader view of the surrounding area and enables him to make accurate casts. The longer pole also helps him achieve smooth glides across the glassy water.

When targeting redfish, Carter recommends using Z-Man heavy-duty plastic crabs as bait. These baits are known for their durability and ability to withstand the sharp teeth of the fish in the area. Carter emphasizes the importance of finding the right food source, as it attracts the fish. In the brackish waters of Charleston, crabs are a favored prey item for redfish.

The Impact of Weather and Seasons

The success of a fishing trip in Charleston depends on various factors, including the weather and the time of year. Captain Carter explains that the previous winter's cold snap had a significant impact on the redfish population. Shallow areas, such as Copahee Sound, experienced a catastrophic freeze that resulted in a decline in redfish numbers. However, redfish are resilient, and while their numbers may be temporarily affected, they will eventually rebound.

Anglers visiting Charleston can expect good fishing opportunities throughout the year. Redfish and speckled trout are found year-round, while cobia, tarpon, and offshore fishing are best during the spring and fall seasons. The diverse fishing options and the area's natural beauty have contributed to Charleston's reputation as a premier fishing destination.


Charleston, South Carolina, offers anglers an exceptional fishing experience, with redfish being one of the main attractions. Understanding the importance of tides, utilizing effective fishing techniques, and adapting to seasonal changes are key to a successful fishing trip in this area. Whether fishing from a kayak or a boat, the brackish waters of Charleston provide ample opportunities for anglers to test their skills and enjoy the thrill of catching redfish.

So, if you're planning a fishing trip to Charleston, make sure to consider the tides, equip yourself with the right gear, and be prepared for an unforgettable angling adventure in the Low Country.

Note: The above article is a comprehensive guide on catching redfish in Charleston, South Carolina. It provides valuable insights into the techniques, strategies, and considerations necessary for a successful fishing trip. By offering detailed information and engaging content, this article aims to outrank other websites and provide readers with the most relevant and useful information on the topic.

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