Freshwater anglers love to chase largemouth bass around docks this time of year, and anglers targeting redfish could learn from their strategies. It’s plenty hot out, and any type of shade is a reprieve so concentrating on docks makes sense. That makes the Stono River a July hot spot.
Guide Stephen Fields of Charleston Fishing Company knows about fishing docks. He grew up bass fishing in the Upstate, competing in bass tournaments before moving to the coast to chase redfish full-time. He said many saltwater anglers will pitch a bait or two around a dock, but few analyze and concentrate on docks the way their freshwater counterparts do.
Fields said summer reds like to concentrate on docks, especially those near relatively deep holes where they can hide at low tide when the water disappears from the their wooden havens.
Fields said the key is patience and fishing slowly with live bait. But he said you need to cover a lot of ground quickly when using artificials, especially at high tide.
“The water temperatures are up this month, and just like us, the redfish feel the effects of it. They move less and eat less, at least during the heat of the day,” he said.
Any type of live bait will do, whether it is shrimp, mud minnows, or menhaden. Whatever the prominent baitfish is in that particular creek is always a good choice. Fields likes to anchor down, cast as close to shore as the water level allows, and he tries to get the bait under — or at least very tight to — the dock.
Fields also like casting artificial lures like LiveTarget’s hybrid shrimp, and their soft-plastic shrimp. Z-Man Trout Tricks are also good choices. Fields said he also love to throw spinnerbaits.
Anglers should try to cover as much area next to the dock as possible on each cast, so facing the dock, anglers should cast down one side and work the lure back, keeping the lure as close to the dock as they can. It doesn’t hurt to have your lure bang up against the pilings.
At high tide, Fields will pay close attention where the dock meets a grass line close to the bank, and he prefers to cover these areas with the artificial lures. Anglers should get as many casts in here as possible, and shouldn’t be afraid to run their lures into and through the grass.
“It’s hot, but the redfish still eat. On most days, you will have some time that is fruitless, but if you stick it out, the bite will turn on at some point. You have to be persistent, try to fish early in the morning and late in the evening, but don’t give up if you have a dry spell. Keep making casts, try to be there when the tide is moving one way or the other, and change lures or bait often if one isn’t producing,” said Fields.