// 5 min Read

Cast a Line: Guide to Fall & Winter Fishing in the Lowcountry

Written by Palmetto Bluff

Dec 6, 2022

Taking a cue from the English indie rock band, Florence and the Machine, “The dog days are over, the dog days are done,” we’re celebrating the end of summer and the return of fall & winter here at Palmetto Bluff. Nature’s telltale signs like falling leaves, cooler temps, and the golden glow of the once bright green Spartina grass signal that long, hot days have been replaced with shorter, cooler days.

And if you ask us, it’s the perfect opportunity for time spent outdoors.

In fact, ask any Lowcountry angler to pick their favorite time of the year in the Lowcountry, and there’s a good chance the majority of them will pick fall. The dog days of summer have all but disappeared: not only is the average daily temperature dropping, which results in a drop in water temperatures, but the waterways are less crowded, the water clarity improves, and there’s still plenty of bait to be found in the creeks, rivers, and harbors. And where there is bait, there will be fish. Visitors who avoided the summer crowds to visit the Lowcountry in the fall & winter will be rewarded with some of the best fishing the area has to offer. From redfish to trout to flounder, it’s a time of year where you can target trophy fish and light tackle in the same day.

In order to capitalize on one of the most distinctive saltwater fisheries in the region, we recently chatted with Captain Tom Shanahan of the Palmetto Bluff Club. Below, he answers some commonly asked questions about fall & winter fishing in and around Palmetto Bluff.

Q: What are some of the best places to fish in the Lowcountry during the fall & winter?

When scouting for “fishy” spots, the best areas to concentrate on would be those with flowing currents—like small tributaries coming out of creeks and river mouths. Once you find the current, look for structures that break the current (“ambush points”). Places like concrete pillars, docks, oyster beds, rakes and trees in the water—any structure that slows the current—give the gamefish a place to lie in wait for bait. Using Google Maps is a really good way to find these areas before you hit the water.

Q: What species are in season/biting?

The backcountry waters in the fall & winter are second to none and are an amazing place to catch redfish (also called red drum or spottail bass), “speckled” trout, and flounder—the three most-targeted species by Lowcountry anglers.

Q: Do I need a license?

Yes! Before heading out on the water, be sure to get your South Carolina fishing license. You can obtain the license at local bait and tackle shops, sporting goods stores, and the Department of Natural Resources offices. Please also visit South Carolina Department of Natural Resources for regulation and limit information.

Q: What is the best tackle to use?

Fishing tactics for fall & winter fishing in South Carolina vary from live bait to artificial lures and fly fishing. My preferred rig is a popping cork with 36” of leader down to a 1/0 Khale hook. I place a split-shot weight above the hook about 6.”

Q: Do the cooler temperatures of fall & winter affect the fishing?

Typically after a cold snap, the fishing gets really good. Some of the best fishing will occur in conditions of declining or falling pressure—as the fish are likely to take any kind of food you can offer them. But that’s not to say that it’s the most reliable; if you want to know what to expect – even if it’s not always the best – you’ll be best off fishing in steady pressure.

Q: Any secrets/tips/tricks for fishing during the fall & winter?

The best tip: if the fish are not biting, move to a new spot. When the weather gets cold, fish will pile up on each other in large schools. Once you find the school, you will usually have a very successful day. (But remember: keep moving until you find them!) I also highly recommend saltstrong.com. Their classes are extremely educational.

Q: What kinds of fishing trips are available for Palmetto Bluff members?

Wilson Landing Marina offers an all-inclusive fishing and guide program for Palmetto Bluff members, including fishing, oystering, shrimping, as well as any leisure needs—fully customizable to your needs. We will supply all tackle, take you out on the water, and clean any fish we return to the docks with.

Whether you are an experienced angler or a first-time fisherman, fall & winter fishing in the Lowcountry is some of the best you’ll find throughout the year. For more information on fishing opportunities at Palmetto Bluff and throughout the surrounding Lowcountry, please contact Wilson Landing Marina. From inshore and nearshore charters to flats and family fishing to private kayak fishing, the waters in and around Palmetto Bluff are an angler’s paradise!