According to inshore fishing guides up and down South Carolina’s coast, redfish are biting like mad. But if you want a unique redfish trip, head to the Palmetto Dunes Lagoon on Hilton Head Island, where bull redfish are ready and willing to battle anglers in much closer quarters than they’ll find in the inshore creeks and inlets.
Fishing here is akin to fishing in a farm pond, except the fish here aren’t bluegills and bass, but a good mixture of saltwater fish, from flounder to tarpon. It’s saltwater for sure, but it’s calm as a pond, and surrounded by a mixture of wooded areas, a golf course, and residential homes.
The top bait for redfish in the lagoon right now, according to Capt. Trent Malphrus of Palmetto Lagoon Charters, is live menhaden, which he catches with a cast net in the lagoon. Malphrus runs a 1/0 to 3/0 hook one time through the top lip of these baitfish, then casts them to likely spots with no weight on the line.
Likely spots for redfish can change daily, Malphrus said, but he has a number of fishing holes he checks throughout the day until he finds them. Several bridges cross the lagoon at different spots, and fishing near the bridge pilings is always a good place to try. Other likely spots include along the banks near downed timber and overhanging trees.
It’s common in the lagoon to catch multiple redfish in the 30- to 40 -inch range, all from a section as small as common bedroom. If one redfish is there, others are there too, said Malphrus.
“When you catch a good one, you want to work that same area extra hard. There are more big fish right there,” he said.
One thing anglers must do differently when fishing the lagoon over fishing inshore is to tighten their drags down, Malphrus (843-301-4634) said.
“When fishing inshore, there’s usually not much for redfish to run into or wrap around. In the lagoon, it’s like fishing in a lake with lots of downed timber in the water, vines, and posts to wrap around. These fish will wrap you up and break you off quickly, so you’ve got to have that drag tightened down hard, and get them away from that cover right away,” he said.
Fishing in the lagoon isn’t open to the general public, so there are two ways to fish here. Staying in one of the hotels or rental homes in Palmetto Dunes gives you access to fish here, but the best way to get the full experience is to book a trip with Malphrus. His knowledge of the lagoon, his top-notch equipment, and his electric-powered Carolina Skiff all give you the best opportunity to learn more about fishing in this lagoon and catching some of the biggest redfish you will ever catch.