Hilton Head Surf Fishing - Best Bait and Tackle stores
I am new to surf fishing in Hilton Head. I used to fish quite a bit in the New Smyrna Beach, Florida area. I fish primarily at Folly Beach. I have cauht plenty of Whiting but that's about it. I use shrim cured in salt. Can anyone advise me where the best Tackle shops in my area are located? I need some help getting educated on what to use, etc. Thanks!
I have been living here for about 3 years, and was brand new to surf fishing when I moved here. I have been trying to learn but have had little success at all from the beach. It could be just me and my lack of skill, however I have don't a bunch of research and what I have read indicates the beaches on HHI are too shallow without good sloughs for good shore fishing. The only thing I have ever caught off the beach were a few Rays.
I haven't found a local bait and tackle shop with local knowledge like you find in Florida, or to some degree Charleston. There are a couple over towards Beaufort that have friendly helpful people, but they cater more to the offshore group there also. If you find anything please let me know. I really enjoy surf fishing, but would like to make it surf catching once in a while.
The best tackle shop in HHI that I have found is the West Marine store on 278. The guys in there do cater to the off shore crowd, but they have plenty of gear suitable for the surf. Prices are not bad either. The Walmart near Indigo Run also has a good selection of salt water tackle.
Finding someone really knowledgeable about surf fishing is another matter. I have been fishing there 20 years+ and the only people who really know surf fishing are some of the locals who don't have their own boats.
My own experience in the surf at HHI suggests that you need live bait. This time of year, mullet are coming down the beach in small to large schools. Get a cast net and learn how to throw it. Catch some mullet in the surf and use it as live bait. In August and Sept, there are blues, ladyfish, and Spanish mackerel following the mullet when the water is on the clear side. I fish the last two hours of the outgoing tide and that seems to work well for these species. In Oct, there will be redfish (spot or puppy drum) following the mullet. Fish for these on the incoming tide. Also, live mullet are rarely taken by rays.
I prefer to filet the mullet into two pieces of meat. Work a 3/0 hook through the flesh then skin, then back through the skin and out the flesh. This hooks the filet twice through the skin with the point of the hook coming through the flesh side. Works very well for blues. I use a two drop rig with a 3 oz pyramid on 20# line.
Although the mullet will be found close to shore, your target species tend to be in shoulder deep water or so.
I don't fish in the restricted swimming areas on the beach. This is basically any area with a lifeguard visible. Although it is unlikely you will catch a shark this time of year, anyone with children in the vicinity will be very upset with you for doing so. And a lifeguard will end your fishing day.
Don't forget your license. The sheriff has been checking for licenses regularly the last few weeks.