Spring is finally here and brings with it some great fishing. Springtime is a great time to fish, and now that the water temperature is above 75 degrees many different species have arrived in our local waters.
Gliding around the back creeks I have begun to see large schools of mullet and other baitfish. I have also seen bonnet head sharks in the shallows eating crabs and small shrimp.
This time of year it is also quite common to see multiple stingrays swimming on top of the water. When you see them hanging out on top in groups it means they are mating. There were so many groups one morning, I could have scooped them with a net.
Just a few weeks ago you could drop baits down in Calibogue Sound and not get a bite for hours. Now those baits won’t last long at all.
Some of the different species biting are bluefish, stingrays, whiting, bull redfish, and it also won’t be long before cobia start making their annual appearance.
One thing that is rarely talked about is all the different shark species that also arrive this time of year.
As I mentioned earlier, bonnet head sharks, commonly confused as hammerheads, have appeared in the shallows.
These sharks are a great fight on light, especially for younger children. Bonnet heads reach up to 4 feet in length and can weigh up to 25 pounds.
Another type of shark that moves in during the spring is the Atlantic sharp nose. They also put up a nice fight, and sometimes they can be so thick that as soon as your bait hits the bottom they rip through it.
Another shark to catch, although not commonly caught, is the hammerhead, which has a different shaped head than the bonnet head. Hammerheads put up a great fight and can grow in excess of 15 feet, although it is rare to catch them above 3 feet because inshore waters serve mostly as nurseries, and adults move offshore when they mature.
A few other types of sharks that make an appearance are the black tip and dogfish sharks. Both of these sharks are normally the smallest caught inshore and can usually be caught from just about any local pier.
The best part of the spring for me is soft shell crab season. When the water temperature reaches a certain level, female crabs begin to molt and they lose their shell.
Because the crab is not hard you can cook it and eat the whole thing. If you have never eaten a soft shell crab I strongly suggest it. It is truly a Lowcountry delicacy.
Chris Shoemaker, owner of May River Excursions, is a nature and fishing guide in Bluffton.