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.
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.
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.
If you like to fish, but are looking for an even bigger adventure, try shark fishing. Captain Miles Altman and Bayrunner offer shark fishing charters out of Shelter Cove Marina throughout summer, a great time to hunt for sharks.
Around Hilton Head Island you can find many different types of sharks like Atlantic sharp nose, blacktips, spinners, dusky, lemon, bull and tiger sharks. Captain Miles says that at times in the summer, it’s hard not to catch one! “You haven’t been to Hilton Head until you have caught a shark,” he says.
Captain Miles says sharks can be lots of fun to catch, and kids especially will enjoy the battle and later bragging rights. What kid wouldn’t love to share a picture of his freshly caught shark with all his or her friends?
Blacktips and spinners like to add an aerial aspect to the battle, says Captain Miles, while bulls and tigers offer a brutish slugfest guaranteed to leave you with some sore muscles. Expect to have a bent rod by the time you’re finished!
Check out this video of a huge 10-foot tiger shark caught in Hilton Head after a two-hour fight.
Fishing with Captain Miles is a great experience, as he’s been trolling the waters of the Atlantic for more than 40 years and knows just where to find the best Hilton Head sharks.
The Bayrunner is a 24-foot boat that holds four people for a 3-hour evening shark fishing excursion. Book your shark fishing charter by calling us at 866-650-4130. W can’t wait to see your pictures!
A must-do on any Hilton head vacation is a boat charter. You just simply have to see Hilton Head Island by water and enjoy its plentiful fishing. Just across the road from Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort is a deep water marina at Shelter Cove where you can find a variety of Hilton Head fishing charters from offshore fishing to shark fishing and crabbing.
Here’s a few that you can choose from on your visit to Hilton Head Island:
Hop aboard the Bayrunner, a 24-foot boat holding a group of four, and head out with a captain with more than 40 years of experience trolling the waters of Hilton Head. Learn how to hook a catch, reel it in, clean it and cook it. Watch their video:
Gullah Gal & True Grits
The 34-foot Gullah Gal and True Grits hold up to 6 people each for anywhere from a 3-hour to a 10-hour fishing excursion. You’ll head about 15 miles from shore to find monster sharks (up to 1000 pounds!), barracuda, sting rays and more, as well as enjoy wildlife like dolphins, eagles and osprey.
Board the brand new 26-foot Finatic with 10 of your closest friends for the fishing adventure of a lifetime! They offer 3-hour trips and have a dolphin guarantee, ensuring that you’ll see one of these friendly creatures. They specialize in shark fishing and also offer a Tuesday night HarbourFest fireworks cruise.
A great activity for kids, crabbing on the Crabber J takes you to Broad Creek where you’ll learn how to catch a blue crab and then release it. Whoever catches the most wins the world-famous Crabber J T-shirt! Each trip is an hour and 45 minutes. Call them directly at 843-422-5110 to book.
To book a Hilton Head fishing charter, give us a call at 866-650-4130. Here’s hoping you reel in a big one!
Hilton Head Island is a romantic spot for any couple’s Valentine’s Day getaway. With beautiful beaches, the Atlantic Ocean and stately moss-draped live oak trees, the natural charm of our Southern island is simplistic romance at its very best.
But our destination offers more than just a beach retreat for couples; Palmetto Dunes gives you plenty of active adventures to enjoy together in the outdoors, as well as many options for dining and accommodations.
Here are 7 romantic ways to enjoy Valentine’s Day at Palmetto Dunes:
1) Take a tandem bike ride – Wait until sunset and then enjoy a beach bike ride together on one of our tandem bikes from Hilton Head Outfitters. Or traverse our more than 50 miles of paved bike paths across the island, exploring the beauty of Hilton Head.
2) Kayak through our peaceful lagoon – Our 11-mile inland lagoon system, which winds through our golf courses, offers a peaceful respite and a perfect opportunity to spend quality quiet time alone. Kayak together on a one-hour or two-hour ride, seeing plenty of birds and wildlife along the way.
3) Enjoy a picnic by the beach – Pack some yummy food from the Palmetto Dunes General Store and enjoy a romantic picnic by the water. Listen to the waves crash and enjoy the sea breeze. If you’re lucky, you might even catch sight of a dolphin or two.
4) Watch the sun set as you eat dinner – Head to one of several Hilton Head restaurants in Shelter Cove Harbour and enjoy your dinner as the sun sets over Broad Creek. Try ELA’s Blu Water Grille or Bistro 17 for starters.
5) Enjoy several nights in a luxury Hilton Head vacation home – We offer a range of Hilton Head vacation homes, small or large depending on what you desire. Choose from homes with pools, ocean views, patios and Jacuzzis for the ultimate in romance.
6) Take a dolphin or sunset dinner cruise – There’s plenty of romance to be had on the water. Shelter Cove Marina offers several sunset cruises, dolphin cruises to get up close with our native mammals, as well as nature cruises for bird-watching and more.
7) Play each other in tennis – With each night you stay in one of our Hilton Head vacation rentals, you receive two hours of complimentary tennis court time at the Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center. Take on your significant other in a tennis match and polish your tennis skills together. Did we mention you’ll burn calories, too?! We hope you’ll consider spending your Valentine’s Day with us this year. We offer several romance packages designed for couples, including our Honeymooner’s Escape, Mini Moon and Anniversary Celebration. Give us a call at 866-744-7558 to plan your Valentine’s Day getaway to Hilton Head Island.