It must have been back in mid October when my wife mentioned we had a chance to go to Hilton Head for vacation. I am a self admitted trout snob in the fly fishing world and not much of a beach person at all. I tend to hate heat and humidity and just really don’t do to well being out in it. So basically my wife who grew up in Mobile Alabama did her best to sell the idea too me with talk of fishing and staying right on the water near a small creek that last time they were there had lots of fish activity that she was not sure what it was but she did a decent sales pitch and I said fine but one day is dedicated to some time with a guide trying to catch Redfish.
I will admit my competitive preparation side took over pretty quick and by Thanksgiving I already had a respectable selection of flies tied for the trip. By spring I had a guide trip booked with Mark Nutting of LoCo Fly Charters I was official pumped to fish the salt for the first time. I tried not to let this fact on too much to the wife since this was a family vacation.
I quickly figured out once I got to our condo that we were staying right on a pretty good fishing spot. We had a small creek that feed into the sound that was just loaded with bait fish so I knew there had to be some fish in it. I also quickly noticed the girls seemed interested in fishing so we headed to Walmart and got a cheap outfit and some bait to give it a go and for me it would let me know what was in there. The first night the eldest and I caught a couple fish on shrimp and missed a bunch. The next day our luck changed when at low tide we found a beat up old minnow trap that was washed up on shore. This proved to be the difference maker!
After we figured out the fishing behind the house some and I personally even got a low country slam (redfish, sea trout, and founder) one morning. I was ready for the guide trip. I will admit it was fun and I learned a lot on the trip I only caught one lady fish but the views alone were worth the price of the trip. I honestly did not realize how hard casting off the front of a flats boat is. Being a bigger guy I never really felt all that steady up there and by the time I got my sea lags the tides had changed and the trip was over. I missed a handful of redfish and that only served to get me wanting to catch one on the fly even more.
With only a couple day left and not much time with good tides and other family plans I knew my shots at them would be limited. On Friday morning I woke up and headed out to see what was going on in the creek at low tide. I was blown away when I noticed a half a dozen or so decent size redfish and ended up missing one that morning. One looked to be in the high 20’s size wise so just getting them to check out my fly that morning was a rush. After those misses and a few spooked fish I figured my chances were pretty slim to get a my redfish on the fly after that.
On Saturday morning the day we checked out I knew I had to get up early and give it one more shot with low tide when I could see the fish. I took my rod out with a Kwan fly that I tied over the winter tied on and hoped to see more red’s in the creek. Quickly I noticed one working the far bank 50′ feet down the creek. It was a tough cast but I got close to it on the cast but noticed it was headed the opposite direction so it never noticed my fly. After that I said ok might as well walk the short section of creek and see what else is in here now. I did not get very fay maybe 10 feet when I spotted a pair of redfish cruising right toward me down the creek. I made a cast leading them by 7 feet or so and hoped for the best. In an instant the lead redfish seemed to speed up and turned right toward my fly and inhaled it on the 3rd strip! It was fish on! Somehow during the fight I managed to call the wife on the cell phone so she could come out and help me land it. That had to make for a comical scene to anyone watching I am sure. The fish made a few good runs and tired out. Once I had that fish in hand and the wife took a couple quick pictures I was on cloud 9 the rest of the day. Sometimes the fish that you spent months thinking about and preparing for ends up being more magical than you imagined. Other times you are disappointed. In hind sight how I caught this fish could not have happened any other way. It was fun to share the moment with family and it made the last day more memorial than just packing the car and heading home would have been alone. It was my last cast into the waters of South Carolina for this trip but it will not be my last cast for redfish.