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Marsh Fishing: How to be successful

Marsh Fishing: How To Be Successful

Marsh Fishing: Where You Need To Be Fishing

One of my favorite places to fish is in the marshes of South Carolina all the way to northern Florida. I specifically have a lot of experience fishing the marshes of Charleston. When out in the middle of the marshes you feel one with nature. The tranquility of the sounds, the smell of the pluff mud mixed with saltwater, and the excitement of catching large fish is enough to get anyone's blood pumping. Species I love targeting out in the marshes are redfish, sea trout, flounder, black drum, and sheepshead.

Fishing The Salt marsh

Nothing Like Fishing The Salt Marshes (Photo Credit: Explore Georgia)

The salt marshes are composed of a very complex Eco-system that is essential to marine life. All over you will find oyster beds perfect for holding food for inshore species. Bait tend to use the oyster shoals for protection which is why species like redfish will hunt them for their next dinner. The salt marshes do not just produce fish, they can often make a headache for inexperienced anglers. In the marshes, there is always the chance to get lost in unknown creeks, fish the wrong tide and get trapped, run aground on oyster shells, and fish the wrong areas. It takes an angler who is aware of their surroundings to fish the marshes successfully. In all of my experience, I have learned several pointers that I thought would make you a better inshore fisherman.

Redfish School in Salt Marsh

Redfish School On Oyster Bed In Salt Marsh (Photo Credit: Winyah Guide)

1) Know Where To Fish In Salt Marshes

 Finding the fish is half the problem. Once you know how to find them, you can worry about more important issues like knowing what they are feeding on and what to use to catch them. There are certain areas in every marsh that anglers should target. By targeting these marsh hot spots you will have more success at finding and catching fish.

  • Mouths of Marsh Creeks: There have been so many times I have been out in the marsh and have see trout and redfish boils at the mouths of a creek. In the marsh bait fish like mullet, shrimp and other fish tend to move into the grass to feed at high tide. This is one reason you see redfish at high tide tailing in the grass. When the tide is retreating, many of the species will populate in the mouths of creeks waiting for the baitfish to be swept by them. Redfish and trout have become excellent hunters at these ambush points. Fish around the current because the fish will sit outside of the current. Some of my biggest fish have come from fishing the mouths of marsh creeks.
  • Oyster Shoals/Oyster Bars: The first thing you will notice at low tide is the vast amount of oyster shoals that are in the marsh waters. These are perfect areas to fish. They tend to hold shrimp, baitfish and small crustaceans that fish love. Fishing these areas at tides where the oyster bar is covered with water is your best times. You will have the headache of it sheering and shredding your line. I guarantee you will lose a few hooks, but the reward of fishing this area.

  • Honey Holes: In every creek, I would fish out in the salt marshes I would find deep holes that would hold the fish. Certain times of the year I always knew there will be fish in these holes. No matter if you are fishing high or low tide, these deep holes hold water. These holes help protect fish from water temperature changes that occur in shallow waters. Baitfish will swim through these holes which always brings in the fish you are targeting. Once you find your honey holes these will be the first places you fish almost everytime.
  • Flooded Shoreline: If you love fishing the marshes, then you will love fishing flooded shorelines. The majority of the time you can sight fish the shallows and look for tailing reds. Anglers will pole around in these flooded areas for their chance at landing a redfish. Redfish target these areas at high tides because they can find an abundance of food such as shrimp and crabs in the marsh grass.
  • Choke Points: The last prime area for fishing within the salt marshes are choke points. These are areas that drain into the creeks. It is this draining that brings shrimp, mullet, and other baitfish out of their hiding in the grass and allows for reds and other species of fish to feed. Often times look for bottlenecks or bends in a creek that you know everything up creek must go through this specific point. Posting up and fishing the bottom with live bait or floating shrimp for trout can yield good results.

2) Know How To Fish The Salt Marshes

Fishing For Redfish

Nothing Like Fishing The Marshes (Photo Credit:Fly Cast Charters)

You now know the areas you should be targeting. That is half the battle. Knowing how to catch the fish can make or break your fishing trip. The first thing all anglers must do is know the tides and use currents to your advantage. This is a strategic advantage because baitfish often go with the currents. Game fish redfish, flounder and trout use currents like a dinner bell. They will post up right outside an area of current and wait to ambush their prey. A good rule I always go by is finding the water movement and you will find the fish. When the tide is falling, you want to be fishing downstream. When the tide is rising you should be fishing upstream. At slack tide it will be hard to find moving water, so get in position to fish the tide falling.

I guarantee you will have great success fishing the salt marshes with live bait. Many anglers do not prefer to use live bait and will choose to use artificial baits. This allows you to cover more ground and find the fish. When using live bait you are waiting for the fish to come to you. This can make for a slow day of fishing. Often times by covering a lot of ground you will increase your chances of catching fish. Fishing with artificial while keeping live bait on the bottom is an excellent way for covering all your basis. 

If you are in a new area of the salt marsh it is a good idea to see your surroundings at low tide. This will allow you to locate your points at which you will fish and help you identify any obstacles you may experience. You want to be safe and protect your boat so scouting a new area can be critical for a successful day fishing. 

If you have any questions or comments we want to hear them and answer them. Feel free to leave us a comment below or email us at Send us your marsh fishing pictures to be featured on all of our social media pages. Maybe you have a tip that we have not mentioned we would love to hear it and share with our readers. If you have always wondered what it would be like to fish the salt marshes then we hope you find this article informative.


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Walter - May 19, 2022

Hey I’m fishing off the dock in Georgia saint simons island how should I fish that what kind of bait or rig and how should I cast out

Jay - June 13, 2018

Those are two different ways of fishing. Personally, I would fish the gulps first because I love fishing with jig heads and artificial! Commonly you will have the best luck on live bait (what the fish are eating) like netted finger mullets, mud minnows, and live shrimp. If you want to work and move around all day and find the fish then throw artificial. If you want to go out, relax and have a beer then use live bait on the bottom! Good luck! What part of Jacksonville are you fishing?

George Dahlquist - June 11, 2018

I live on a canal in the south Jacksonville Beach area and fish the marsh areas around here. I mainly use Gulp baits and have mud minnows, live shrimp, and blue crab available. Just wondering which live bait you prefer and go to first?

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