Professional photographer and outdoor writer, Andy Hagedon travels the world from his home in Charleston, South Carolina. When he’s fishing in Charleston, Hagedon has a difficult time deciding where to launch his kayak. “The Lowcountry of South Carolina offers access to trophy largemouth and striped bass only a few miles from redfish, trout and flounder,” he says. With great fishing in every direction, Hagedon often makes his choice minutes before leaving the house. “Many mornings, I’m in the garage when I finally decide where to go.”
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At first light on a nearly perfect fall day, I decided to grab my saltwater tackle and head out for redfish. Three rivers flow from Charleston into the Atlantic Ocean. I can access six launch ramps in a 20-minute drive. On this day, I picked the Wando River.
Kayak Fishing in Charleston, SC
The sun was rising and the tide low. A quick pedal across the river and I lined up on a riprap bank. The point creates an eddy, attracting fish and providing me cover from the river current.
After my first few casts with a topwater lure didn’t produce, I considered changing lures. Then a speckled trout slammed the plug. After I released the small silver and spotted trout, I made another cast and caught another trout. In a dawn flurry, I caught a dozen small trout and missed as many blow ups.
With my fill of trout, I let the rising tide carry me upriver and behind an island. I drifted with the current, casting at the grass along the edge of the marsh. The Wando River produces monster redfish—my biggest was 43 inches, with average fish running 23 inches. In fall, when the reds are bulking up for winter, a bladed jig can produce a ferocious bite.
Holding the rod high to clear the oysters, I danceD on the pedals to put pressure on my adversary.
Alone on the water on a beautiful day, I didn’t mind making cast after cast, searching for more than an hour. I switched colors and sizes of Z-Man SwimmerZ and Diezel MinnowZ looking for the right combination. After a hundred casts, I got the bite I’d been waiting for.
Charleston Redfish Hits the Lure
I saw the water swirl a couple feet away from my lure as a big redfish bolted over to attack. Anticipating the bite, my heart stopped just before the fish hit.
I felt a thump and I leaned back against the weight of a nice redfish. The fish felt me, too, and made a run for deeper water. Braided line peeled off the reel while the red pulled me away from the bank. Holding the rod high to clear the oysters, I danced on the pedals to put pressure on my adversary.
The sleighride lasted just a few minutes before I landed a 30-inch redfish. After removing the hooks, I took a minute to admire the orange and golden fish. Then, with a swing of its iridescent blue tail, the redfish splashed goodbye and scooted off to its murky home.
Charleston Kayak Fishing Tips
Casting topwater walk-the-dog style lures or leadhead jigs with a soft-plastic tail. I prefer a spinning combo for working a popping cork. For bladed jigs, topwater and paddletails, I use a baitcasting setup. I use a seven-foot, six-inch rod with a 7:1 reel. I spool the reel with 20-pound braid and two feet of 15-pound test fluorocarbon leader. I keep the leader short and let the braided line protect me from breaking off in the sharp oysters.
Pedalling in reverse allows me to position in the current and hold off the bank. Standup fishing makes it easier to spot redfish in the shallows. Use a stakeout pole for quick stops.
Where to Launch
Bushy Park on the Cooper River. A launch on one side of the road accesses freshwater. On the other side of the road, another ramp drops into saltwater. For information on local fishing, check out the Lowcountry Kayak Anglers group on Facebook.
Where to Stay in Charleston
Grab an Airbnb on lower Lake Moultrie to fish the Lowcountry lakes or drive an hour to the inshore saltwater action. To be closer to the salt, camp at the Mt. Pleasant KOA and fish the upper Wando or Intracoastal Waterway behind Isle of Palms.
Where to Eat in Charleston
Fans of barbecue need to check out the world-class brisket at Lewis BBQ, the chef is a disciple of famed Franklin BBQ in Texas. Then, check out the whole-hog, pulled pork from Rodney Scott’s.
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Other Charleston, SC Attractions
Tour Z-Man and Shimano headquarters—the buildings are across the street. History buffs can tour the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier and Medal of Honor museum at Patriots Point.
This article was first published in Kayak Anger Issue 44. Subscribe to Kayak Anger and get the magazine delivered to your front door. Download the Kayak Angler Magazine+ app to seamlessly glide between the digital archives, the latest articles and videos or browse the digital archives for your desktop here.
Fish for bass one day and redfish the next day. | Feature photo: Andy Hagedon