The top 5 targeted fish for Kayak fishing in Charleston, and the places to get geared up.
Having a basic understanding of the fish that live in the area you are targeting is essential. Once you understand what fish hunt and eat, their favored tides, and temperatures, you are one step closer to landing that trophy. Your next step is gearing up with the right rod and reel, bait, and kayak for a successful adventure. We understand dozens of fish species and dozens of reasons to pick over the other, but we want to share our favorites. We will also give you our favorite fishing merchandise suppliers, regulation site, and our favorite kayak dealer. We could go on for days worth of information about each fish or piece of gear, but we hope you find these simple, useful tips and essential knowledge helpful. In the end, we want to hear what favorites you have as well. Let's get into our fishing list and into where you can get outfitted for your catch of the day!
#- 5 Channel Catfish
This #5 spot is easily the hardest to fill. There are so many great fish, but this fish has earned my respect even though I hate catching them. The fight a large Channel Catfish can put up can be truly unique. These pale blue whiskered fish are smooth-skinned and covered in a bio-slime that acts as a protective shield to the fish. These fish average around 16 inches and about 2 pounds, but as a full-grown 20-year-old adult, they can weigh over 50 pounds. They are nature's garbage disposals eating small fish, medium fish, large fish, any fish it can get in its mouth, along with shrimp, mollusks, and plants. These fish are found in large rivers, ponds, and lakes and are incredibly hearty fish, allowing for a wide range of salinity levels. These are solid fighters and will eat just about anything you put on a hook.
Combine a great fighting fish with a creepy smile, and you have the Sheepshead. These odd fish are equipped with incisor and molar like teeth giving them a human-style dental structure. The body is often silver or greyish and stripped with 5-6 vertical blackened bars. Their life cycle as mature adults are between 2 to 5 years. The average size of the Sheepshead is around 14 inches and about 3 pounds in weight. The state record, however, is a hefty 16 pounds. These fish love to hang around structure and can be found
year-round, mainly among piers and pylons. The Sheepshead's specialized teeth allow for a diet of small fish and shrimp but are designed to crush crabs, mussels, oysters, and barnacles. We find the best baits are fiddler or mud crabs on a 2/0 circle hook. Once on, there is little chance of them getting away, be ready for a fight.
#3 - Southern Flounder
These flat odd-looking fish have both eyes placed on the left
of their bodies and range in multiple shades of browns with spots. Flounders are masters of the ambush. Their flat body and sandy color allow for a near-perfect camouflage. These predators average 12-14inches and typically weigh in between 1-2pounds, but can grow up to 16 pounds. The lifespan of these flattened fish is roughly five years for males and 7-8 for females. These beasts are found along mudflats and tidal creeks, waiting for their prey to pass by. Flounders can be found mostly during the warming and cooling months of the year. As colder weather approaches, they tend to move more offshore. Their diet consists of smaller fish, such as mullet, spots, minnows, shrimp, and even blue crab. If you can't find live bait, specifically mud minnows or finger mullet, try a 5-inch white Gulp Mullet with a 1/4ounce trout eye jig.
#2 - Speckled Trout or Spotted Sea Trout
Trout almost seem to glow with a hue of several bright colors, broken up by small dark specks covering the top half of the entire fish from head to tail. These gorgeous fish come armed with two large canine-style teeth in their upper jaw; never put your fingers in any saltwater fish's mouth. Speckled trout live for up to ten years, and average around 14inches and weigh about 1.3 pounds. However, they can grow as large as 10pounds and put up a tremendous fight. Large adults are found in grassy beds near tidal creek mouths and channels. Spring and fall are the best times to catch these beauties, and during the winter months, they may tend to move into deeper waters but can still be in the marshlands. When rigging up your rod, we suggest using live bait, mimicking mullet, croakers, and mud minnows. If you can't find live bait, try using a Z-man slim Swimz 3 inch Soft Plastic Paddle Tail with a Z-man Pro ShroomZ 1/4 ounce Jighead.
#1 - Red Drum or Spot Tail Bass
Our #1 pick for Kayak Fishing in Charleston are these magnificent fighters, the Red Drum. These beautiful fish adorned with a reddish-copper casting on top and a bone-white belly below are the marshlands' real prizes. They are easily recognizable by the large "False Eye" placed along the body's back, commonly at the tail's base. The average length for these run around 18 inches and weigh approximately 2.5 pounds. However, they can have a life span of 60 years and quickly grow to over 40 inches and weigh over 50 pounds. If you hook up to one of these monsters, you and your kayak are going for a Charleston saltwater sleigh-ride. You can find Red Drum throughout the year, but the real season starts as water temperatures drop. Red Drums are vicious hunters and eat several baits and are attached to noise and breaking water. Fish along the marsh reeds during low tide as Red Drums will dig in the soft mud hunting for food. Here is where your popping lures or corks come into play. Try live or fresh bait if possible; shrimp and mud minnows are my go-to favorites for these monsters.
Where can I buy fishing supplies?
Haddrell's Point Tackle and Supply
When it comes to finding the right rods and reels, fishing lines, lures, and fishing advice here in Charleston, you can always rely on our local Haddre's Point Tackle and Supply store. These guys know their fishing and are willing to hand out helpful tips and tricks to improve your fishing game. They have two locations in Charleston, one in West Ashley and one in Mount Pleasant, and they are our #1 fishing merchandise center.
How do I get a fishing license and find out the legal limits for fishing?
South Carolina Department of Resources
This state regulation center and legal resource contain all you need to know about the local species and how to stay within the law's boundaries while kayaking and fishing. Make sure you purchase an annual fishing license for saltwater before booking your trip with Carolina Kayak Fishing Adventures. For legal compliance and guidelines, this is our #1 site.
Are you looking to purchase a Lightning Strike Kayak?
LC Angler's Paddle Sports
In Columbia, SC. is our go-to dealer when looking to increase our Lightning Strike kayak fleet. Jeff gives his customers excellent deals for kayaks and deals in several brands, but is the only dealer in the state for Lightning Strikes. Jeff also deals in kayak accessories and safety devices and is an avid kayak angler himself. Jeff is your one-stop-shop for kayak knowledge, advice, and merchandise.
At Carolina Kayak Fishing Adventures, we love to fish, but more importantly, we love to help others learn to fish and encourage a deeper appreciation for nature and exploration. We are a catch and release company, promoting the local eco-systems' protection and encouraging a healthy fish population for the future. Thanks for letting us share our favorite fish and our favorite places for supplies and information.
Now that you know our top 5 fish for kayak fishing the saltwater marshes, what do you think? Please leave us your thoughts and how you would rank each of these local fish.