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Tailing redfish on fly

Monster 15 pound red on fly!
 
South Carolina offers flyfishing clients many year round opportunities, but most of our flyfishing centers around redfish. Redfish have a reputation as easy dumb targets in some areas but not in South Carolina. Our redfish feed mostly by scent so fooling them with a fly can be tough some days. Other days they will act like they have never seen a boat and eat just about everything you throw at them. Those days are fewer and further between with the increased fishing pressure of the last few years. We can catch reds on the fly just about any time of the year but concentrate most of our flyfishing efforts into two seasons; tailing redfish of the Summer and schooling redfish of the Winter. It is very important in flyfishing to be able to see your target, and these two seasons offer great sight casting., In the Winter months, the redfish gather into huge schools, and prowl the shallow water flats. The cold temperatures kill off the bacteria and algea making the water very clear so sightcasting is at its best. We pole the flats hunting in my skinny water boat for these schools of redfish, and it is not uncommon to find schools of 200-500 hungry fish. These Winter fish are much slower due to low water temps so we can typically get lots of shots at them. The Summer months also offer excellent flyfishing for redfish. These trips are centered around the higher than normal tides from April through October (Charleston's Summer). During these high tides, the fish will move deep into the spartina grass to feed on crustaceans. As the fish noses down to suck a crab from the mub, its' tail breaks the surface of the water giving us a fly shot to a feeding fish. This takes an accurate cast because the fish is very intent on getting that crab. Many times we will find 15 or 20 fish tailing in a single flat. Many anglers find this to be the most exciting fishing there is! Most of the time, we will pole the flats looking for tails and feeding fish, but sometimes we leave the boat to chase the fish on foot. These tides occur on very specific dates and only last a few hours so you must plan early if you want to fish one of these tailing tides. Flyfishing for reds can also be great during the spring and fall months if conditions allow for sightcasting.

Clear water and schooling reds, perfect sightcasting!

Beautiful Winter conditions for the fly

Frigid and flat calm

Another cold water redfish comes to the Fish Call

Tailing redfish of the warmer months

Sometimes we take chase on foot

Hooked up in the rain!

Average size tailing redfish, 5 pounds

Trout and flounder are other possible year round targets for flyfishermen. Trout are sight feeders and readily take many different types of flies. Their size is not huge and they don't pull very hard but trout still can be a blast on light gear. We may also run into black drum, sheepshead, and flounder on the flats. We do not specifically target these species on fly, but do catch them from time to time when fishing for reds and trout. The fall and spring months are best for trout and flounder.

The migratory species also make great flyfishing targets. We find spanish mackerel and bluefish busting the surface around the Charleston Harbor, the surrounding inlets, and a few miles offshore. These are the easiest of species to catch on the fly. Sometimes they will take the fly right next to the boat. Even though they are easy, they still pull great! Ladyfish are incredibly fun on the fly. They also can be found smashing bait through out our estuary. Ladyfish are cousins of the mighty tarpon and act very much the same. They make lightning fast runs and jump like crazy. They also love poppers which makes for some exciting fishing! Some years we have tons of ladyfish and other years they are scarce. The biggest and toughest inshore species to tackle on the fly is the jack crevalle. These fish average around 20 pounds but get much larger. A new 20lb-tippet world record fish of just under 40 pounds was caught in the Charleston Harbor in 1999. These fish are also found busting the surface and love poppers! We have seen fewer and fewer jack crevalle in the harbor the last couple of years so don't recommend only targeting them. We have found a great fly bite on another jack though, the always mean amberjack! In the Spring and early Summer, amberjacks, cobia, and barracuda stack up in the shipping channel and offshore wrecks. These fish are range from 15-50 pounds and pull really hard. We chum them into a frenzy on the surface and then cast flies into the feed. I recommend big flies and at least a 10 weight for these fish. Client with a broken 9 weight pictured below. Conditions need to be flat because we target these fish 5-10 miles offsore. This fishing is not for the faint of heart.

THE BITE! with amberjacks busting all around

THE FIGHT! nervous about that rod?

THE PRIZE!! 30+ pound amberjack

This AJ made quick work of his 9 weight rod

For the most part, a 7 to 9 weight rod with weight-forward floating line will handle everything except the giant jacks and cobia. For the big guys, I like a 12 weight rod and a reel with at least 200 yards of backing. A 10 weight would make it real sporty though. Fish Call will provide all the flies needed, but if you have something special, bring it along. Clients are encouraged to bring their own equipment, but can use mine if needed. I have a 7, 8, 9, 12, and 14 weight rods with weight-forward floating line. I normally tell flyfishing clients that they need to be able to cast 30 to 50 feet accurately in two false casts to be successful without getting lucky. On calms days, you may need 60-80 feet to get to the redfish without spooking them. The trick with saltwater flyfishing is learning how to shoot the line. Most of the time we will see a fish and have about 15 seconds to get the fly to him so as few false casts as possible. Flyfishing in Charleston can be very challenging but the reward is great.
 

To book a charter

call or text 843-509-7337 or

email    jrwaits@fishcall.com


Wade Fishing for Tailing Reds

Pictures by Frank Edwards for Charleston Magazine

I Love It When A Plan Comes Together!

Blind casting can also be productive

Black Drum on the Fly!!

Sunrise redfish

Casting to tailing redfish

Winter time redfishing!!

Giant red on the fly!!

16.5 lb. red on the fly!!

Hooked up to a tailing redfish under the old Cooper River Bridges

Stay connected with Capt. J.R. on
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  email Capt. Waits: jrwaits@fishcall.com

 

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