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.
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!
Over the last month, we had several travel bloggers visit the resort with their families and they blew up social media with all the fun they had! We wanted to share a recap of their families’ activities and outings to give you an idea of what you and your family can enjoy the next time you’re on the island.
For this post, we wanted to share the adventures of Malise Terrell with Carolina Mama and her family of four, including two teenage boys, who visited in early November. They were pleased to find weather warm enough (68 degrees!) for several dips in the ocean.
The Terrells enjoy tennis, so they decided that some evening tennis court time would be just what they needed after their drive from North Carolina. Their family played after dark on our lighted courts, which just require a token from the Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center to operate.
They also headed to the beach with some fishing rental gear from Hilton Head Outfitters to see what they could reel in. No catches this time, but they enjoyed the view and the time together!
Biking was a top activity for the family, using Hilton Head bike rentals also from Hilton Head Outfitters, which were waiting for them when they arrived at their vacation villa. The crew took a ride down the beach and up to the beachfront Dunes House, as well as explored the resort.
The Terrell family loved their Hilton Head vacation rental and Mom was especially fond of her comfy chair and quiet spot for reading, as well as the gorgeous master bath at newly-renovated 714 Barrington Park just a short walk from the beach.
Of course, our favorite picture had to be the boys holding light sabers on the beach, perfect timing with all the talk of the new Star Wars trailer and very controversial new light saber!
Follow Malise on Instagram to see all of her pics and call us at 866-650-4130 to book your own family getaway to Palmetto Dunes!
Afraid Hilton Head Island prices are beyond your reach? Think again! Palmetto Dunes, especially in the off season, which includes the holidays, may be more economical than you thought.
From October 2014-March 2015, we have rates for a two-bedroom resort view villa starting at only $159/night! And unlike a traditional hotel room, you get a full villa with many of the amenities of home like a full kitchen and dining area and a washer/dryer, which makes packing so much easier. Our villas also have TVs, wireless Internet access and many have porches, balconies or decks to enjoy Lowcountry views, as well as gyms, pools and elevators. Additional bedrooms and ocean views are available for a higher starting rate.
Plus, when you book through Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort, you get even more value for your nightly rate, including two free hours of tennis daily and 20% off resort dining and items at select retail outlets. Our guests also receive preferred rates and priority access to our three championship Hilton Head golf courses and golf lessons, Hilton Head tennis clinics, Hilton Head bike rentals, kayak rentals, fishing charters and more.
Got a pooch who wants to join you at the beach? No problem! We offer several Hilton Head pet-friendly accommodations during this season.
Always dreamed of spending the holidays watching the waves crash after your turkey dinner or opening gifts? These prices remain the same during Thanksgiving or the December holiday break, too – an amazing deal!
Fall and winter are wonderful seasons to visit the island with much milder temperatures than you’ll find up north and all the same fun Lowcountry activities available. Take a look at our recent blog on 7 Fall Activities to do on Hilton Head Island.
Let us know if we can get that $159/night rate locked in for you and your family! Give us a ring at 866-650-4130 and browse our Hilton Head vacation rentals to find the perfect vacation home for your visit.
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.
Right across the street from Palmetto Dunes is Shelter Cove Harbour, our Mediterranean-style marina, dining and shopping village. Ride your bike beneath Highway 278 to access the marina or hope a ride on the free Dunes Buggy during the summer season.
There, you’ll find many different unique boutiques, gourmet restaurants with waterfront views and all sorts of fun activities that you can do in and around the harbour and marina. Here are 7 of our favorites:
1) Take a Hilton Head fishing charter – Several different fishing charters operate out of Shelter Cove Marina, including Gullah Gal, True Grits and Bayrunner. You can choose to go inshore fishing, offshore fishing, wreck fishing and even shark fishing!
2) Go jetpacking – You only live once (#YOLO), so why not give jetpacking a go? It’s definitely a bucket list item. Blast off over Broad Creek with HHI Jetpack.
3) Rent a kayak – The waters of Broad Creek are a great spot to explore via kayak. Look for dolphins, birds and even the occasional otter and manatee as you navigate our waters with your Hilton Head kayak rental.
4) Go parasailing – Get a view of Broad Creek from above with Parasail Hilton Head. Get 10% off your ride using code “Web.”
5) Ride a bike – Rent bikes from Hilton Head Outfitters and pedal over from Palmetto Dunes. Explore all Shelter Cove has to offer from restaurants to shopping to views and entertainment by bike!
6) Try stand up paddleboarding – Outside Hilton Head offers stand up paddleboards, or SUP, for rent out of Shelter Cove Marina. It’s one of the fastest growing water sports and a total-body workout that uses your core, legs and upper body as you balance and paddle through the water. If you’re really daring, try SUP yoga!
7) Go water skiing – Get the whole family in on this activity. With Family Ski Day, you get several hours to tube, water ski, wake board and knee board for up to six people.
What activity would you most like to try at Shelter Cove Harbour and Marina?
There is no shortage of ways to have fun with your friends on Hilton Head Island, but here’s one way you may not have heard about: a Hilton Head party fishing boat. Gather a big group of up to 60 family and friends together and get ready to explore the beautiful marshes and waterways of Broad Creek while competing to reel in the biggest catch.
Available out of Shelter Cove Harbour across from Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort, the Captain Hook is a 70-foot boat that can be chartered by groups. Billed as the “largest and most comfortable party fishing boat on Hilton Head Island,” the Captain Hook has a full galley, enclosed cabin, shaded sitting areas for fishing, two clean restrooms and plenty of room to catch some rays on the top deck.
Choose which type of Hilton Head fishing charter you’d like to enjoy aboard Captain Hook, including inshore shark fishing, offshore wreck fishing or night shark fishing with HarbourFest fireworks on Tuesday nights. The trips range from 3 to 5 1/2 hours and start at $53/person and $43/person for children 12 and younger for a three-hour tour. The cost includes bait, tackle, rod and reel rental, instructions and fish cleaning. A fishing license is not required.
Plan to bring your own small cooler (beer in cans is allowed) or purchase food on the boat, including hot dogs, pizza, cheeseburgers, candy, beer, water and soda. The food bar is cash only. You can also buy T-shirts onboard as a souvenir of your trip! Plan to wear shorts or long pants, a T-shirt, swimsuit, jacket, hat, and sneakers or boat shoes. No flip flops, please.
To schedule your Hilton Head party fishing charter, give us a call at 843-785-1700. Have a blast!