After who knows how many blog postings that have had
absolutely nothing to do with fishing, here one is! Yes, I went fishing.
We joined up with our daughters and their families at the exotic
location of Hunter’s Island just off the South Carolina coast. This was to be my first ever opportunity to
cast a fly into salt so I packed my 8 weight and the few Clouser patterns I had
on hand and we headed for the beach.
In past years our Memorial Day reunion has taken place a lot
closer to home here in the mountains and the fishing was for trout and
bluegill, so in addition to a change of prey, the change of scenery was really
anticipated. And the scenery did not
Many of the scenes from Forrest Gump were filmed in and
around Beaufort, and the Vietnam battle scenes were filmed right on Hunter’s
Island – and it didn’t take long to see why.
When we entered the road to the campground the landscape changed from tidal
flats to big time jungle. It was beautiful
in a very wild and inhospitable way.
Arriving at the beach was pretty impressive too. They have nine foot tides here and arriving
at low tide we saw about 400 yards of white sand between us and the surf.
A week before leaving home I had called Bay Street
Outfitters in downtown Beaufort to ask about the fishing and was able to talk
to a guy that sounded very knowledgeable about the fly fishing in the
area. I asked about fly patterns and got
some good info on the redfish opportunities.
I told him I’d pick his brain further when I arrived in town. So our first stop was to the fly shop.
He wasn’t there. He
was guiding in Russia and the help I got was of questionable value. My next stop was at a hardware store to buy a
license and the advice I got there got my attention. The clerk told me that they had been catching
bull redfish right off the beach of the island.
That’s more like it!
With that information it didn’t take me long to hit the
beach. After puzzling over the type of
bugs that inhabit this jungle island –
- and scarring off a few raccoons that had a fondness for
watermelons – I headed across the sand for the beach. I was fascinated by the patterns the tides
had left in the sand. They reminded me
of the satellite shots of the sands on the Arabian Peninsula that I’ve studied
on Google Earth from 50,000 feet. A
different cause of course, but the effects were remarkably similar.
Okay, so while others in the family (the sane ones) were enjoying that other
thing that beaches were made for, I went fishing.
I walked the beach and fished for about two hours and never
saw a fish. So much for the advice I got
from the clerk. I began to realize that without
some really expert advice I was doomed to failure. It’s a big ocean out there and finding fish
in it aint gonna be as easy as spotting trout in a mountain stream so I stopped
into a visitor center, picked up a few brochures and called the one that
bragged about their kayak rentals and fly fishing knowledge. I was assured that yes, the reds were there,
they were biting and that they could put me on them. Chad and I arranged to meet up with them on
I should have known that something was amiss when Lenny, our
guide, rigged up a spinning outfit and placed a bucket of fresh shrimp into his
kayak. Turns out that he has never fly
fished and they have never guided anyone that had! Oh well, we're here – lets launch these things
and get after it.
Lenny said there was a good weed bed just up past some
docked shrimp boats so we began paddling north – against the incoming tide. (When you are told that the tide is nine
feet, please understand that it moves much like a river. And understand that an outboard motor is advised
if you are out of shape.) We paddled for
about a mile to reach the designated “Hot Spot,” always watching for tailing
redfish. Do you see them in this
Neither did I. Not
from this view or any other. The only
signs of life I saw during our three hour cruise were some herons and few
egrets - and a guy standing on the bow of a passing shrimp boat. Forrest, was that you? Captain Dan?
Lenny said he caught two stingrays with his shrimp, but Chad
and I hooked nothing, and the trip back to the launching point – against the
outgoing tide - was just as tiring as the trip away from it. Would I try this again? Absolutely…but only from a flats boat piloted
by an experienced and highly recommended fly fishing guide.
In spite of the disappointment and the sore arms, the day
was beautiful. I’d go again tomorrow,
especially if I might have the chance to see a few of these…
Shirley and I had a great time…