Friday, November 4, 2011

Dawn Patrol With Lowcountry Fly Shop

It's little secret that the redfish on the South Carolina coast have been somewhat of a nemesis for me for the past couple years.  Though I haven't been able to concentrate on pursuing them as much as I would like, (read  real job, real wife, and two real children) the few trips that I've done have been doomed with tides that went to high to fast to find tailing fish for any length of time, a trout set or two, and the just the process of learning the marsh game.  This isn't to say that I haven't had a great time learning this new angle on fly fishing and I figured from the start that I'd have to earn it by trying.  Getting to know a few of the local guides got me closer on each trip as well.

The genesis for all this started at the Fly Fishing Film Tour stop in Charleston where I met Michael Bruner from Lowcountry Fly Shop.  The store had just opened and we talked about doing a trip once things settled down a bit.  Then this past August I met up with both Michael Bruner and Scott Davis (co-owners of Lowcountry Fly Shop) at IFTD in New Orleans and once they found out that I was still "redfishless", said they could change that for sure.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Fast forward to this past Monday morning, with the sun slowly easing up, where I met up with Scott just outside of Charleston.  I loaded gear onto Scott's East Cape flats boat and he asked "Did you bring any glass?"  I replied "Hell yeah..." and put together the Steffen 8' 8/9 weight that I figured would be about perfect for pursuing redfish on the fly.

The tide was low but rising and Scott figured that the redfish would be feeding in shallow as they were waiting for the water to rise enough to move into the marsh grass to eat some more.  As soon as Scott cut the motor and climbed up on the poling platform he started calling out fish here and there as several redfish were chasing bait fish and shrimp in the shallow water.  Scott looked down to the left side of the boat, and not thirty feet away, saw a redfish in less than twelve inches of water and said "There's one."  I saw the fish move as well and  I dropped the first cast a little to far to the right, the second cast a little short, and the third cast in the zone.  Strip...strip...and I felt a sharp tug.  STRIP STRIKE!  I then watched as the redfish bent the glass rod over as he ran to deeper water.  I made sure to clear the line, since the last thing I needed now was fly line wrapping itself around the handle of my fly reel and popping this fish off.  I battled what felt to be a decent redfish for several minutes before Scott carefully netted it.  We took a few photographs and I eased what I still believe to be the most beautiful redfish back into the water and watched as it quickly swam out of my grasp.  A celebratory fist bump between Scott and I and he was back on the platform and said "Okay...let's find another one."  We hadn't been on the water twenty minutes and I had already caught my first redfish.  I was elated and spent the rest of the morning with a smile of disbelief on my face.

The next few hours were spent poling and cruising looking for tailing redfish as the tide rose into the grass flats.  Crabs, which give reason for redfish to tail and devour them, had been in shorter supply than most years so finding tailing fish was tough though we observed a couple of very large fish with half their bodies out of the water which was quite impressive.  With the lack of crabs the redfish instead chase bait fish and shrimp and are a bit tougher to find that way.

Scott and I both had a few bumps on different small shrimp patterns and I had another redfish lunch on my fly but immediately cut off on an oyster bed.  Oh well.  I wasn't disappointed a bit.  By noon we were off the water and stopped at a chicken joint for a quick lunch before Scott headed back to the shop and I rode back home a couple hours away.  On the ride back all I kept thinking over and over was that I was no longer "redfishless".  Now I can't wait to get back. 

Check out the Lowcountry Fly Shop website and Facebook page too.  If you find yourself in the Charleston, South Carolina area and wish to spend the day on the water with Scott or Michael give them a ring at 843-388-5337.


Randall said...

Great write-up Cameron!!!

One of these days I'll hopefully be able to target Reds...

Cameron Mortenson said...

Randall...get over on this coast. We'll do a trip together.

hjackson1989 said...

Nice write up man! Congrats!