Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Weekend in Beaufort

Last weekend a client and friend of mine, Max, brought some of his buddies down for a few days away, and while I don’t really know how much relaxing they actually did, I know they played hard.  They started with a house rental they found on vrbo that had this great view…
After the three of them settled in we made plans for where to meet up in the morning to head out to fish.  The first day Max sent out Paul and Ted to fish with plans to rotate himself in the following two days so that each of them would get to fish two out of the three days.  We started off doing some sight casting to reds and within 5 minutes Ted had a really nice fish on.  

This day was the strongest redfish day of the weekend with tons of hookups, most caught and some lost in the thick grass they were held up in.  Paul finished with the largest redfish of the day just shy of 30 inches.

They headed to Bricks on Boundary for some lunch and had a drink at Hemingway’s that evening, before heading home to grill a few redfish filets and prepared for the next morning of fishing.

The second day it was Max and Paul in the boat.  Paul has been in my boat many times and I refer to him as ‘Paul the Professional’ because he doesn’t look like he is doing anything special but the fishing luck he brings is undeniable.  Though Paul brought this nice red in from a massive school sitting over white shell, it ended up being a day full of nice trout.
Lunch was found at Panini’s right down town this day and they again ate like kings at their rental with some trout filets.

The third day was Max and Ted and finally we were given some calm water to look for Cobia but the tide movement must have been a little fast for them to get up top.  I guess we needed ‘Paul the Professional’ for some added luck with those brown fish.  We did get into some trout, jacks, and reds on a nice point after the water stopped being slick. 
Their final lunch in Beaufort was at Plum’s downtown before heading out of town on Monday morning.  These guys were great to hang out with for a few days and I look forward to getting them back on the water in the future.  

Friday, March 1, 2013

Orvis Endorsed

Yesterday our new Orvis Endorsed hats and stickers came in and it always makes me reminisce a bit.  The first guide hat that I got to wear and first sticker that went on my truck was 9 years ago in 2004.  Since then a lot of memories have been made, sponsorships have been added, articles written, guide rendezvous attended, fish caught, and most importantly one of a kind outdoor experiences have been had.
On the surface, an Orvis Endorsement reads as an advertisement for guides, lodges, and outfitters.  Next to my relationship with Bay Street Outfitters, from new guide to head guide, the Orvis Endorsement has been the other strong constant in my nine years of guiding, so I have good reason to believe that the endorsement runs deeper than just advertising.

Often I am asked the question, "how do you become an Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide?"  Most often this question stems from my endorsement sticker inside my Maverick flats boat being in view while we are cruising from spot to spot.  I always give a pretty detailed description of how I came to be an Orvis Guide.  I also give a description of the continued relationship, and how the most important function of the endorsement is that there are some checks and balances on us as guides.  I hold a close relationship directly with Orvis and often fish with employees, board members, and other Orvis representatives.

When looking for a guide, I refer to a friend that I know has fished where I'm going and see what type of experience they had with their guide, before I even look to websites.  A strong reference from a friend is powerful in choosing a guide.  If I don't have someone as a reference for an area, I am left with two options; one would be to go to google and search the area for whatever website pops up, the other would be to find a way to verify the guide or lodge has creditability through a reputable source.  The first option won't tell me very much, for certain, because there are plenty of good website designers out there.  The second option is difficult to pinpoint; over the last few years more and more attempts at 'endorsement' type websites have popped up, where people pay a fee to have their advertisement slapped online, though they have never met each other.  An Orvis Endorsement holds more credibility than that.  
With clients that come to fish with me because of their experiences in the past with Orvis Endorsed operations, I am frequently reminded how nice it is to be part of such a strong reputation.  Over these 9 years I really appreciate the consistency of my endorsement and look forward to the continued relationship in the future.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Ask and You Shall Receive

This week has been tough as a guide because wind and rain has dominated the week but the days in-between have been the other extreme.  Yesterday morning I was out with a great client of mine, known to his family as Kool Uncle Kenny, aka KUK. He drives down to fish with me as much as he can around his busy schedule, and has fished with me for quiet a few years now.  I have been able to watch him grow as a fly caster and therefore watch him grow as a fish catcher!

We found hundreds of fish right off the bat up around thick oyster mounds that just kept working the same pattern down the bank and then back up, so we were able to get multiple shots.

Ken pulled a nice 23 inch fish from this school after laying out his best cast of the morning, to that point.

We pulled out from behind the shells as things were getting a little skinny and went on to found a different school of fish on a more open mudflat.  Originally the school was moving away from us so instead of pressing them we took our time poling so they could settle in.  We started a conversation about taking trips to fish in other regions of the country and KUK ended the conversation with the statement, "I would like to catch a 30 plus inch redfish in this boat first though, before taking any trips anywhere else.  I have a history with this boat."  About two minutes after that statement we were in casting range of the school and just as KUK reached the fish they lifted just a bit and I thought they were going to spook but instead one creamed the fly as the school was pushing away.

While we were fighting the fish another flats boat came motoring in, closer then any I have ever had before.  The boat owner proceeded to pole closer, heading toward the water between my boat and the bank.  We had a few words in which I asked him if my boat was camouflaged and he told me that he did me the favor of pushing some fish toward me.  I would have been better with that if he didn't pick those fish up with his engine running.  KUK and I went back to focusing on the fish we had on and just ignored our new company.  When my hand felt the large diameter of KUK's fish, I laughed thinking on two minutes earlier..."catch a 30 plus inch redfish in this boat..."

Ask and you shall receive…the fish measured dead on at 32 inches and 13 pounds.  KUK was about as excited as I have ever seen him.  It was a moment in my boat I will always remember.

When the other engine started up and left the flat, the school got really unsettled and we were not able to even somewhat approach them any more.  We moved onto one last spot and proceeded to increase the number of total fish caught to more than any other day we had ever fished together on the fly.

Next on KUK's list is a Cobia and a Triple Tail, I look forward to it!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Never 9 Years.

It was a crisp cold morning on January 25th and as I was sitting waiting on my client, Paul, at the landing, I had no idea that I would have one of the strangest realizations of my entire 9 years of guiding later that day.

We took off a little ahead of schedule, meaning the tide was a little too high to see fish on the mudflats, so we headed to some white shell.  After looking there for a bit and seeing limited life, we headed a little closer to the ocean where the tide would be lower.  Pulling out of a little creek that was low already, we arrived onto a mud flat, and it wasn't long until we found a nice school of about 200 Redfish.  

Paul was casting one of my Loomis Greenwater spinning rods with a shallow water twitch bait on it and on the first cast he made he locked in on the fish pictured here, which I watched rise right out of the center of the school to eat.

We hooked and released quite a few more fish.

 The school stayed pretty happy until a large yacht came through the cut, slowed down for a few seconds and then sped back up, as if he was trying to push the largest possible wake he could, which forced me to sit on the tower and my client to step into the bottom of the boat until the wake passed.  The fish moved up to the next little cove and seemed to settle down a bit, so we pulled up and placed a few more casts to the school, which was more split up now.  Three casts in I saw the white mouth of a nice fish open to take the lure, Paul set and the fight was on.  This final fish ate about an hour and half after the first fish we caught; we took a few pictures and released it. 

Paul gave me his email address when we got back to the landing so I could send over the photos that evening.  I pulled out a few images and was getting ready to send them when I took a harder look at the first and last fish of the day.  I noticed that both fish had the same wound on the dorsal, the same parasite on the back dorsal and one on the pectoral fin.  The final nail in the coffin was a white line through the spot on the tail.  It was the same fish!

I can't say I have never had this happen, but I have never been able to prove that it happened or even had reason to believe it did.  Looking back there are quite a few details that make hooking the same fish incredibly amazing; I wasn't exaggerating about there being 200 fish in this school, the schooled had moved over 100 yards while we caught a few out of it, the fish were more spread out, the fish fought harder the second time around, and the rest of the school had lock jaw when this final fish ate.

I don't think I will forget this day anytime soon, but most of all it just goes to show how out on the water you never stop learning things and new experiences seem to be infinitely possible.  

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Cobia Fortune

We have had good cobia fortune in my boat this year but today might take the cake.  It wasn't the largest cobia of the year and it wasn't unique for the fact that the angler in my boat had never caught one, in fact he is the 5th one I have had this year that has lost his 'Cobia on the Fly' virginity.  Instead, fortune came because of a different fish and a litter bug.

Chuck and I started the day at 845 this morning with five fly rods in the boat. We bought some time until the tide would be low enough to sight cast by blind casting with an LC shrimp, thank you John Holbrook for that fly. We hooked a nice red that ate as it came to the boat, making it difficult to get a good hook set. After a short time of pulling off line from the reel, the fish came unglued. A few minutes later we hooked into a doormat of a flounder that if he had been a buzz saw would have separated the boat right at the console as he darted under and out the other side. Though he ripped some fly line from the reel, he too came unglued.
In the next two locations we found no shortage of reds…hundreds of them. We changed flies twice but never made one eat. So I said lets pull out the 10wt and see if we can find a Cobia. I was explaining what we would be looking for and on cue one came up as an example; it was pushing due west across the river. I reached over Chuck’s shoulder to point out the wake but as soon as we pulled closer the fish disappeared. Again a push, and again it disappeared. The third time this happened we moved a little closer to where the push was and momentarily got a fairly close look at a 25 plus pound Cobia but didn’t get a real good shot at it. The next fish cruising wouldn’t let us get close before it would go down so we moved on. For the next 45 minutes we saw a few sheepshead cruising, some bait and as always hundreds of jelly balls but no sign of a brown fish. Chuck said, “let’s go fish for some reds again, we might spend an hour looking for a Cobia and when we find it I might not capitalize.”
“Alright” I replied. Putting the 10 weight away we headed off to another flat. After getting up some speed I looked over to the right at a black bucket floating upside down bobbing in the subtle slick waves. I spun the boat and said, “Triple Tail.”
“You see one?” Chuck asked.
“Not a Cobia, a triple tail right with that bucket.”
I pulled the eight weight out with a redfish toad, a good triple tail fly, and identified the triple tail to Chuck. He put his first cast a little wide right and it wasn’t long before the triple tail caught sight of the boat and retreated under the bucket. At that point I instructed Chuck to cast past the bucket and let the fly sink a bit before stripping it back, hoping the hidden fish would dart out and grab it.  As Chuck cast, I glanced up river seeing what appeared to be a kamikaze fish pushing right toward us. I reached for the 10 weight as I said, “There is a Cobia coming!” Closing fast, the cobia moved just a little left of center, so Chuck and I switched rods. “You see it?” I asked.
Chuck replied, “Yeah I see it,” which was another way of saying, “what do you want me to do?” The fish sunk and disappeared.
“Put it to left of where he just was and strip.”
I took a quick look back to the bucket to see if the triple tail was still there. He was, and was zoned in on the toad as it was sinking. I looked back to Chuck’s fly just as the cobia lifted out of the depth pushing a wake that screamed, “here I come!” The fish punished the fly and Chuck didn’t hesitate to give the most successful strip strike of the day. I removed the redfish toad from the water and away from the triple tail to say thanks for making us stop the boat. No bucket equals no triple tail and no triple tail most likely means I never would have seen that cobia.

An early statement from Chuck said, “it appears they fight a little sluggish.” The just legal fish quickly changed Chuck’s opinion on that, and was followed with him making statements such as “we don’t have fish that can bend a rod like this at home...unless I am using my 3 weight.”
We got him in, took some photos and then lipped the fish with a boga next to the boat as it idled along until he was strong enough to swim away on his own.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


I got a phone call Thursday evening from a client of mine who wanted to take advantage of the 5 to 10 mph forecast for today. The forecast yeilded exactly those conditions. He was coming from Savannah so we planned to meet on the Savannah side of Beaufort to fish from Chechesse River landing.

The fish seemed to be a little more spooky today but we were able to pull a pair of 24" fish from two different schools. Both fish were caught on an LC Shrimp and my clients 8 wt. Loomis GLX.

Quote from the day:"I am a little unhappy that that fish ate...I was having such a great time watching all those fish swim around." This was said after we hooked the first fish out of a school of a hundred plus reds in the winter crystal clear water.

Friday, January 6, 2012


In the past I have only posted blogs that were more telling of what I have learned on the water, experiances, or instructional type posts. This year I am going to do some of those but I also want to give a better understanding of day to day how the fishing is. So I am going to write a blog, as often as I can, about each day we fish. Good or bad.Today was a good day to start. Tim O'Leary, Fishing Manager of the Orvis Outlet store in Manchester, VT was here in Hilton Head for a visit and wanted to get out and fish one day. We looked at Wednesday which started at a temperture of 24 degrees and desided that the 5 to 10 mph winds out of the west on a warmer Friday would make things much more enjoyable.

We left the landing at 9:30 and headed out to go find Tim's first redfish ever. After poling most of the first flat we had a dolphin come crusing down the outside edge and cut infront of us about 50 yards down the flat. I told Tim that most likely the fish were right where that dolphin was heading in and he will turn them down here toward us. Sure enough that dolphin made me look really good! We pulled one out of the school then and found them a second time 100 yards behind us and pulled one more out.

We went to two more spots and pulled out two in the first spot and found limited fish in the second with no hookups there.

Final count was 1 fish around 19inches, 2 just shy of 24inches, and one nice 27inch fish, all caught on John Holbrook's LC Shrimp pattern with an 8wt. Helios.

Things I was reminded of during the trip were that if you are not actively catching a fish then you should always have more than enough line stripped off the reel to be able to cast immediately and that winter reds will often test your patients in your search because they are in such tight schools.

One thing I learned is that if there is a spot you have a gut feeling is holding fish before poling to far with a blind spot from the sun you should zig zag the boat to see into that blind spot.

All and all a great day and it was very nice to see someone get their first redfish(or 4) on the fly.