The slight, almost imperceptible tug on the rod tip signaled the sheepshead had taken the crab in his mouth. Pulling back gently to tighten the connection I waited for the second tap. At this point, history has taught me that it may be too late, the crab crushed and the fish gone, but there it was, another light tap!
Setting the hook quickly the classic tug and war battle was on. Bending the rod double on surging runs and taking drag, the sheepshead did his best to return to the structure below. After several minutes we finally had color, the black and white striped master bait thief was close. But they never give up easy and the fish took line again and headed for the depths.
Back and forth he went until finally the fish was close enough to slide the net under. Weighing around eight pounds, the sheepshead was mostly grown, while weights in the double digits are possible, few are caught over the ten pound mark.
Sheepshead are present year round in the low country but March is a banner month for this fishery. A member of the snapper family, they rank in my list of favorites to catch Difficult to hook due to their feeding habits, a real scrapper when it comes to fighting and last but definitely not least- they are delicious on the plate. A large set of teeth, almost human like, are used to crush barnacles, crabs and other hard shell critters.
The preferred bait for most anglers are fiddler crabs. The most common rig is a fish finder rig, a sliding sinker rigged above a short leader with the hook at the end. Dropping the crab over structure until the sinker hits bottom, then reeling the sinker up a foot or so allows the angler, if he’s lucky, to feel the light tap or tug when the sheepie takes the crab in his mouth. Only seconds pass before the sheepshead crushes the crab, spits the hook and then he’s on his way. Needless to say you need a good supply of fiddlers if you want to seriously sheepshead fish. Fresh clams and live shrimp are also productive baits.
One of the things I like most about March is that sheepshead are the harbingers of the season. They kickstart our local season, keeping us busy until the cobia show in late April and May, but that’s another month and another story. Now it’s time to catch the sheepies!
P.S. A note for our guests and residents of northern origin, these are not the same fish as the freshwater species you know from back home.
There is so much to do when visiting us this spring! For those of you counting down the days until you arrive to gorgeous Hilton Head Island and Palmetto Dunes, we’ve compiled a spring to-do list for you. See how many you can complete and let us know:
What’s missing from our Palmetto Dunes To-Do List? Is there anything your family cannot leave the resort without doing?
To book your Palmetto Dunes vacation this spring, visit www.palmettodunes.com or call us at 866-650-4130.
Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort was recently the centerpiece of a Golfing World video during which on-air reporter Cara Robinson explores Hilton Head Island, checking out much of what the area has to offer, both on and off the golf course.
Cara’s visit includes hands-on seafood preparation instruction from Andy Love, executive chef at the Old Oyster Factory, as well as enjoying a massage at the Westin Resort’s Heavenly Spa.
But the video’s highlight comes in the tall, lanky form of Palmetto Dunes’ always-entertaining Golf Professional Clark Sinclair, who steals the show during his lengthy segment with Ms. Robinson.
Filmed while the duo tackled the beautiful, challenging 13th hole on the Robert Trent Jones Course, Sinclair mentioned the numerous renowned golf course architects represented locally, not only at Palmetto Dunes — which features designs from not only the great Trent Jones, but also George Fazio and living legend Arthur Hills — but around Hilton Head Island as well.
Ms. Robinson asked Sinclair which of the three Palmetto Dunes layouts was most suitable to beginning golfers. Sinclair told her that each of the three Palmetto Dunes layouts was player-friendly IF the golfer selected the proper tee box from which to play.
“The Palmetto Dunes golf courses are all amenable to everyone, depending on which tees you play,” Sinclair said. “Some (golfers) consider the Hills the most challenging of the layouts for beginners, but it is still a short course. The other two courses are good for everyone depending on which tees you select.”
“They are all in good shape as you can see,” Sinclair added. “They are a lot of fun for everyone.”
Near the end of his segment, Clark provides Cara a nice, experienced read on her putt, allowing the show’s host to secure a par on the hole.
“Welcome to Palmetto Dunes,” says the smooth Sinclair.
“I want to play with you more often,” Cara replies with a laugh, “if I get a par on every hole.”
We are so blessed here with many days reaching the 70's and sometimes 80 degrees in winter. Trout fishing has been great this season, getting a limit of ten per person has been easy a lot of days. They are hitting almost any artificial you throw at them and live bait is always good.
Reports of large "gator" trout are common and large flounder seem to be more plentiful. Redfish are with us year round and this time of year can be caught inshore and offshore. While artificials will work in the creeks for the redfish, cut mullet, live mud minnows and shrimp will all but guarantee some lively action. Fishing around docks and oyster beds on either side of low tide seems to be the best method for these battlers.
Sheepshead fishing around the docks and old pilings is also great this time of year. Live fiddlers and clams the favorite baits of choice for these convict striped fish. Master bait thieves you have to be vigilant for the ever so subtle strike. Not many fish can top the sheepshead for table fare, which has earned them the nickname "river snapper".
Sheepshead can also be caught at the nearshore reefs but black sea bass pose a problem in winter. Also hard to beat for the table the black sea bass are out of season this time of year and while you can literally catch hundreds on a trip now, but…you have to release them all.
While many over slot reds are being caught in the creeks the really big boys will be off the beach. This time of year searching for the gannets diving on bait schools will help you locate the bull redfish. Once you locate them place squid, menhaden or cut mullet beneath them and hold on! Averaging 30 plus pounds look for at least two or three if not more scorching runs out of these guys.
One other option this time of year is up the Savannah River. In late December and January the striped bass run up the freshwater rivers and offer a rare treat for those that seek them. Trolling big Cisco Kids or similar lures along the banks with stout tackle can produce fish twenty pounds and up. Be careful of large ships passing as the deep draft of these ships will pull the water six feet or more from the bank. All in all there is plenty of good fishing this time of year, so don't put those rods away!
By Guest Blogger Captain Miles Altman
Book a fishing charter with Capt. Miles by calling 843-842-7001. Bayrunner Charter Fishing is offering a 3-3-3 special in Jan and Feb…3 hours, 3 people for 300!
There is always one or two in every golf group: The nattering naybob of negativity. The buzzkill. The constant complainer. The guy (or gal) who, no matter how hard you work to arrange a perfect trip, they are always going to find a problem.
Fortunately Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort has got you covered by offering the appropriate elixir to silence the most irritating of whiners.
Here are a half-dozen complaints you may have received from Mr./Mrs. Nattering Naybob — and the perfect answer from Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort.
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1) Why do we play the same type course each day during our trip?
Palmetto Dunes features plenty of golfing variety without leaving the premises. Guests may choose from three superb courses, each one distinctively different yet challenging. The Arthur Hills Course was built on a series of rolling dunes and takes full advantage of the natural beauty of this South Carolina sea island. The scenic Robert Trent Jones Oceanfront Course, home to one of the most stunning oceanfront holes in the Southeast, is a “Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary” for its commitment to providing a sanctuary for wildlife. The George Fazio Course, Hilton Head Island's only par-70 layout, presents a challenge to any accomplished golfer: a series of long par 4s guarded by bunkers and water hazards. Veteran golfers regard the Fazio course as Hilton Head Island's true championship course.
2) Why do we have to get up so early since the courses are an hour away?
When you're at Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort, you roll over in your luxurious accommodations and as soon as you can shake a stick, you’ll be on the tee box of one of our three award-winning layouts. Palmetto Dunes experienced a three-peat when its George Fazio Course was named the 2014 South Carolina Golf Course of the Year. The honor also means all three of the Palmetto Dunes golf courses have been named as South Carolina’s Course of the Year. In 2003, when renovation work by Roger Rulewich was completed on the Robert Trent Jones Oceanfront Course, it was named it the year’s South Carolina Golf Course of the Year, an accolade the Arthur Hills Course corralled in 2009.
3) Why is the weather so miserable?
One of America’s great resort Meccas from the second half of the 20th century until today, Hilton Head Island rests luxuriously along the Intracoastal Waterway and encompasses 42 square miles of semi-tropical, Lowcountry geography warmed by the Gulf Stream and framed by palm trees, live oaks and rolling dunes. Springtime blooms early and fall departs late in Hilton Head’s perennial climate. There are days in the middle of December that edge up to the high 70s and low 80s.
Yet, Hilton Head’s hidden secret is that once summer has come and gone, most of the tourists have gone, too. Which is what makes the months between November and February — when the average high temperature on Hilton Head is 62.5 degrees — one of the most popular times of the year for locals and savvy out-of-towners.
Of course we all know, the island’s “hottest” resort these days is Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort, which — no matter what the season — is simply one of the most family-friendly Shangri-La’s around. Palmetto Dunes offers a number of appealing Winter Golf Packages and “Golf-Buddy getaways” that include accommodations at either of the resort’s two hotels, or in its golf villas and homes.
4) Why is my golf game so bad?
Palmetto Dunes does not cater to the advanced golfer only. Permanent junior tees at the Jones Course allow younger golfers and beginners to tackle a beautiful, 2,625-yard layout, while the Fazio Course also caters to juniors, with markings of 150 yards or less on the course. Indeed, novices, juniors, men and women alike can learn from some of the best golf instructors in the sport at Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort.
There is a free golf clinic and demonstration every Monday at 4 p.m., as well as a daily golf clinic featuring the stroke of the day at the Jones course. Private lessons are available from an assistant professional, head professionals and the director of instruction. With a student-instructor ratio of 6:1, the clinic offers nearly individual attention. Former PGA Tour player Doug Weaver, the resort’s highly regarded director of instruction, has been making the game more fun and easier for guests for years. Golfers also may want to take advantage of “The Custom Fitting Experience,” a free swing evaluation and club fitting offered by the resort.
5) Why do we always eat at the same place day after day?
Culinary repetition is certainly not a problem at Palmetto Dunes. Big Jim’s BBQ, Burgers & Pizza is a family-friendly restaurant located at the Robert Trent Jones golf course clubhouse. Open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Big Jim’s serves signature Southern dishes, including barbeque, gourmet burgers and grilled pizza, as well as soups, salads, seafood, steaks and ribs. It also offers a kid’s menu, as well as a wine and beer menu. The restaurant has big screen TVs, expanded outdoor seating overlooking the Jones course, a fire pit, Happy Hour specials from 4-7 p.m. daily and live entertainment seasonally on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 6-9 p.m.
In addition, located just off the Intracoastal Waterway and directly across William Hilton Parkway from Palmetto Dunes, picturesque Shelter Cove Harbour serves as a popular waterfront dining, shopping and entertainment destination. Patterned after a sunny Mediterranean villa, Shelter Cove Harbour and Marina is alive with activity day and night, along with some of Hilton Head’s widest variety of world-class cuisine. Choose from more than 20 shops, boutiques, galleries, restaurants and cafés.
6) Why is there nothing to do after the round?
Play More. Do More. Get More. That’s the promise Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort fulfills every day for thousands of vacationers, golfers, tennis players, beach lovers, groups, and nature lovers. Palmetto Dunes has been a favorite vacation destination for decades, providing one of the richest vacation experiences in the country with more award-winning activities than any other resort in the Southeast.
Ranked the No. 1 family resort in the United States and Canada and one of the Top 25 World’s Best Family Getaways by Travel + Leisure magazine, Palmetto Dunes features activities and experiences for every member of the family. In 2013 the resort’s Tennis Center — ranked among the 50 Greatest Tennis Resorts since 1975 by Tennis Magazine — was named one of the Top 10 Tennis Resorts in the World by TennisResortsOnline.com, which also ranked Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center No. 4 for junior tennis programs.
Hilton Head Outfitters offers canoe or kayak rentals, as well as bike rentals, beach chairs, loungers, umbrellas, coolers and boogie boards. Fishermen may select a fly rod or light tackle to go after large redfish, trout, bluefish, flounder and black drum. The calm waters of the 11-mile inland lagoon system that runs through Palmetto Dunes present countless opportunities for fishing, bird watching and enjoying the beauty of nature. Guided paddling trips led by trained interpretative naturalists provide an introduction to the habitat of herons, osprey, dolphins and fiddler crabs. Outfitters guides also provide kayak lessons for beginners.
Palmetto Dunes and the surrounding area of Hilton Head Island offer more than 50 miles of paved bike paths that are ideal for exploring. There is even an underpass for crossing busy Highway 278 to access Shelter Cove Harbour and Marina from the resort. Guests may rent bikes, accessories and more at Hilton Head Outfitters to explore the island and to cycle along the beach. Hilton Head Outfitters delivers bikes for free for guests staying at the resort – or anywhere on the island – making bike rentals easy and convenient.
Family Ski Day lets guests learn how to water-ski or stay upright on a kneeboard or wakeboard. The full package includes transportation from Shelter Cove Marina to a secluded area for private instruction for all ages and skill levels. A more relaxing option includes three hours of tubing.
Palmetto Dunes packs more excitement into a day than most children can handle. From three miles of beach to biking, fishing, canoeing and kayaking, kids love visiting Palmetto Dunes. Don’t miss opportunities for golf, tennis, boating, sport crabbing, exploring, nature tours, water skiing, surfing, paddle boarding, kayaking or riding the Big Banana Split, an unforgettable water sled.
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When you're planning your annual beach trip, you want everything to go just perfectly so you'll have wonderful family memories for years to come. But with kids of different ages and sometimes grandparents along for the trip, too the planning part can be slightly challenging.
Here are 8 secrets from the staff at Palmetto Dunes for planning the perfect family beach vacation:
1) Choose a villa or home rental
Over and over we hear from families who stay at Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort how much they love staying in our Hilton Head vacation rentals and homes. Families can spread out instead of being cramped in a hotel room and enjoy some down time between activities. Plus, you have access to a full kitchen and a washer and dryer, which makes packing so much easier.
2) Reserve early
Be sure to reserve your Hilton Head beach vacation as soon as you can to ensure you get your first choice of Hilton Head vacation rentals, as well as the best rates. That also goes for our Hilton Head bike rentals, kayak rentals, tee times at our three championship Hilton Head golf courses and more, especially during busier seasons.
3) Sign up for our emails
Looking for a deal? You're sure to find the best ones if you subscribe to our emails. We regularly share inside tips and savings just for our past guests and subscribers. You'll be the first to know about the latest offers and events at the resort.
4) Check the events calendar
Before you arrive – or even plan your vacation – check to see what's going on at the resort on our events calendar. We have activities year-round, but if you have a specific event or activities for a certain age group in mind, you can plan your visit around that schedule. During summer, enjoy HarbourFest at Shelter Cove, and during spring and fall, there's Music & Taste on the Harbour. We also regularly host golf and tennis clinics, summer surfing lessons, live music at the oceanfront Dunes House restaurantand more.
5) Don't over-schedule
When you come to Hilton Head Island, there's so much to do, you can wear yourself out! We highly recommend choosing just one main activity per day, such as golf, tennis, a nature cruise or kayaking, and allowing plenty of time for relaxing at your vacation home or villa. That's what makes it a vacation!
6) Get bikes
Hilton Head Island is the perfect place to ride your Hilton Head bike rentals. With 50 miles of paved paths to explore, there's always somewhere new to go. You'll be happy you're not sitting in traffic, and you'll get a firsthand view of our beautiful scenery. Plus, you're getting exercise, too! Safely ride to the Dunes House, the General Store, the Tennis Center or any of our 3 golf courses within Palmetto Dunes. You can also pedal through our safe passageway under the highway to Shelter Cove Harbour.
7) Learn a new skill
Why not come back from vacation with a new skill? Palmetto Dunes offers ample opportunity for learning a new skill or sport. Take a class at the Palmetto Dunes Golf Academy, hone your golf skills at our three varied golf courses, each of which has been named the South Carolina course of the year, or take a lesson at the Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center. Learn to surf during the summer with our Hilton Head surfing lessons or take a Hilton Head fishing charter and learn how to fish from the Lowcountry experts. Crabbing is another great activity for all ages!
8) Go grocery shopping
Since you're staying in a vacation home or villa, you have access to a full kitchen, and it's incredibly handy to be able to pop back for a snack or enjoy breakfast in the villa before you head out for the day. Head to the new Kroger or Whole Foods close by upon your arrival or use a Hilton Head grocery shopping service like Hopper Shopper or Grocery Run and have your rental stocked before you even arrive!
What are your tips for a great beach vacation? We want to hear them!
For more information about booking your family beach vacation at Palmetto Dunes, visit www.palmettodunes.com or give us a call at 866-650-4130.
What’s your favorite resort in the south? We hope it’s Palmetto Dunes! It seems that it is for many of you, as Conde Nast Traveler just announced we landed at No. 13 on their Reader’s Choice Top 25 Resorts in the South. South Carolina dominated the list with seven resorts, including us, represented.
For the Reader’s Choice Awards, Conde Nast Traveler asked nearly 77,000 readers to vote on their favorite cities, hotels, resorts and cruise lines to help inspire others about the best places to travel around the world.
To determine the rankings for the awards, which began back in 1988, the magazine hires a research firm to tabulate the results. In order to be eligible for an award, a candidate must receive a minimum number of responses.
Readers are asked to judge each individual candidate on a set of criteria relevant to their category, based on a standard five-point scale: excellent, very good, good, fair and poor. The mean average determines the final score and thus ranking.
Why is Palmetto Dunes a top U.S. resort? Let us count the ways! Golf, tennis, 3 miles of beach, a beautiful inland lagoon system, shopping, dining, fishing, kayaking, bike riding and the list goes on…
Why do you think Palmetto Dunes is one of the best resorts in the south?
by Captain Miles
Fall is a special time here in the Lowcountry for many reasons, the weather is better, the crowds thin...and the bull redfish swarm inshore waters. The bulls, 20 pounds upwards to the 50 pound mark are here or offshore all year, but this time of year they come close in big numbers with catches of 20 or more fish in a trip not at all uncommon.
The strength of these fish is incredible, rivaling any other fish its size short of an amberjack or tuna. I usually fish heaby spinning reels with 50 pound braid and even with a heavy drag they will strip line off at an alarming pace, and do it several times in a battle. I have fished lighter tackle but the lengthly battle takes a toll on these big fish and they must be released, the law being everything over 23 inches must be returned to the water.
The smaller redfish also invade the creeks this time of year offering the best light tackle sport available. Shrimp, live or dead, cut mullet and menhaden all are favorite baits when fishing inshore. The "slot" or keeper size is 15-23 inches and by SC law you may keep three fish per person. Not only are redfish a blast to catch, but they are delicious. Before Chef Pail Prudhomme introduced "blackened redfish" these fish were locally known as spot tail bass or puppy drum. Officially, their proper name is red drum. Coloration is usually a deep burnt orange or copper across the back with a single spot at the base of the tail. Some fish have multiple spots from the tail to the middle of the fish. A strong and broad tail and thick shoulders give it all the horsepower it needs to make your day.
Good conservation and our local mariculture center have provided some of the best stocks of redfish I have seen in forty years of fishing this area. Al Stokes and his crew at the Mariculture Center have been boosting the local population with their work for years. The proof is in the pudding whether you want to light tackles redfish in the creeks or chase the big bulls, now is the perfect time.
At Wine Tasting Wednesday, every Wednesday in October from 5-7 p.m. at the inside room, guests can try new wines paired with sumptuous cheeses while enjoying a beautiful oceanfront view.
The event is $10 per person first come, first served and will include different wines each week. For example, on October 15, featured wines will be:
Wine distributors will also be on hand to answer your most burning wine questions J.
Come enjoy wine and cheese on your fall Hilton Head vacation! Stroll over or ride your bike from your Hilton Head vacation home and meet us at the Dunes House. See you there!
The fall forecast for Hilton Head Island? AWESOME! We want you to come on down and enjoy the mild weather, Carolina sunshine and great activities that make autumn a wonderful time of year to visit Hilton Head Island.
Here are 7 of our favorite fall activities on Hilton Head Island and at Palmetto Dunes:
1) Music & Taste on the Harbour – Is there anything better than live music outdoors with a beautiful view? We put it all together at Shelter Cove Harbour & Marina, located just across Highway 278 from the Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort. Every Thursday, through October 23, Shelter Cove will feature live music from local bands along with light appetizers and drink specials from Shelter Cove restaurants. It’s a free event, so don’t miss the fun!
2) Fishing – It’s hard to top fall fishing on Hilton Head Island. The red fish are especially abundant, because they spawn, forming large schools, during fall. We have more than 6000 red fish, ranging in size from 1-40 pounds, stocked in our 11-mile inland lagoon, so you’re bound to catch one. If you’d like to have some “reel” fun, head out with Captain Trent Malphrus, who knows all the right spots, on one of our Hilton Head fishing charters!
3) Biking – With the milder temperatures, it’s a great time to hop on a bike and explore the 25 miles of paved bike paths within the resort or venture beyond to the more than 50 miles of paved paths across the island. Stop by Hilton Head Outfitters for the perfect bike rental, options for kids and all the bike accessories you’ll need.
4) Kayaking – Another great activity for all ages here at the resort is kayaking or canoeing. Enjoy a peaceful paddle in our lagoon system and take in the beautiful natural surroundings and golf course views. Hilton Head Outfitters rents kayaks and canoes, including singles and doubles for families who want to bring along young kids. You can also fish from our kayaks and canoes.
5) Beachcombing – Autumn can be the perfect season to search for shells. The beaches are not as crowded and the sun isn’t beating down on you quite so much. Keep your eye out for various shells, shark teeth and even the occasional Native American artifact! Here are more beachcombing tips for Hilton Head Island.
6) Golf – Challenge your best friends to a round – or several rounds – of golf at our three varied, championship Hilton Head golf courses. We offer lots of benefits for groups, such as stocked beer, logoed merchandise and access to our TripCaddie app that lets you track scores and even award trophies! Get a group golf quote here.
7) Tennis – You can work up a sweat playing tennis at one of our 25 courts in a hurry, but in fall you won’t be quite as soaked. Enjoy some of the Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center fall tennis tournaments like the Banana Open Challenge, take a Hilton Head tennis clinic offered daily or try our Cardio Tennis class for a real calorie-burning workout!
What activity are you most looking forward to this fall on Hilton Head Island? If we can help you plan your fall Palmetto Dunes vacation, visit our new website at www.palmettodunes.com or give us a call at 866-650-4130.