Last year's mild winter was a nice reprieve for South Carolina's speckled trout after cold-water kills in back-to-back brutal winters wiped out a lot of specks. This spells good news for Palmetto State anglers, and one place the trout are healthy and biting is Bulls Bay near Awendaw.

Gary McElwain of Awendaw has been having a lot of success lately catching Bulls Bay specks, and the majority of his fish have been keeper sized.

"I went out (last) Monday and caught 20 during the last hour of the incoming tide, and 13 were bigger than 14 inches. I caught most of the fish on a D.O.A. Shrimp under a popping cork, and a few on a lead-head jig," McElwain said. 

While some anglers enjoy fishing at dead low tide, McElwain spends that time scouting out areas with good-sized oyster beds.

 

"They're exposed at low tide, and I just make a mental note of a few locations. I'll start fishing one during the incoming tide so I can keep an eye on the oysters and make sure I'm fishing right on top of them. I've been catching trout all around these oyster beds," he said.

 

McElwain said his fishing improved a few years ago after getting a tip from a fellow angler he met on the water one day.

 

"I had always anchored within easy casting distance, and I would catch a few here and there, but I noticed another guy one day who seemed to struggle to reach the oyster bed with his casts. But, he caught more trout out of that hole than I'd ever caught from one spot," McElwain said. "So now I anchor a good long cast away, and it seems to help."

 

McElwain also has another trick that helps put trout in his boat.

 

"Some days, you can just toss your bait right to the middle of the oyster beds, pop it a little, and catch trout. But other days, you have to really work those beds. Cover the middle with your popping-cork rig, then the shoreline edge of it, and then the other edge of it. Spend a few casts a little farther from the oyster bed than you think the fish would be. You'll be surprised at how many you'll catch 10 feet or so away from the oysters," he said.

 

To find out what other fishermen are doing in the state, check out the fishing forum