As David Jones put it: "Redfish 3, us 0"
David had his Beavertail skiff gased up and ready to go when I met him at 7 am at the park and ride on Rt. 64. We made quick work of the trip south - rolling into the Mt. Pleasant KOA at around 3 pm. We unhitched the trailer headed to the Charleston Angler to get our licenses, some tippet, and to get psyched up.
Wednesday, we made it to the Remley Point ramp at around 8 am and headed over to Drum Island to look for jacks while the tide rose. We saw lots of spanish, but we were rigged with big rods and poppers for the jacks. We found a rip and started working it. On one of the drifts, there was a big explosion and I put the white gurgler in the middle of the meele. In and instant, I hooked up and got bitten off by a jack. I tied on a new popper with a trace of wire tippet this time, but the jacks did not return so we stowed the big rods and headed up river. We did the drive by past the familiar flats west of the Rt. 41 bridge, blind casted at some creek mouths, and then circled back to up the Wando to a section of flooded marsh near Rathall Creek.
As I walked the shoreline, I saw a redfish porpoise and then wathced as he slid along the bank right under my nose to disappear. He never tailed and I waited, but he never reappeared. He probably saw me too. We kept checking the flats to see if the flood tides would get up in there, and we did find one section that got flooded from an interior feeder creek off Horlbeck Creek. I spotted a fish in there, but we spooked him and even though we could see him moving around, he never settled down to get a good shot at him before he too disappeared into the murky water.
Day one: One breakoff, two spotted reds, no tight lines. Not too bad for a shakedown day, and I was optimistic. We had a nice dinner on Bowen's Island watching the kayakers and dolphins play in the river.
Thursday, because the high tide wasn't until almost 2 pm, we decided to go to the Charleston Angler at 8 am and see about some intel. The weather report predicted wind blowing 15-20, but instead we found out the report in the morning was for 3-5 mph. Big difference overnight! We were told we missed the best early morning shallow tide in the Intercoastal area, that the tides Thursday would not flood the lower Wando flats, that the water was hot and the catching was cold all over, and other really positive news. But we did learn some things about local tides and predicting, and about some new spots to fish.
On this day, we decided to fish the Wando River Flats east of the Rt. 41 bridge. We were told the tide would be higher and the flats flooded there, but that the fish were hard to catch. Not too many other options... We launched again at Remley Point and worked our way up river as the tide rose. We got to the Wando River Flats and they were different than the lower river flats west of the 41 bridge. The marsh grass was tall and uniformly thick or tall with the water in channels and cuts in between the clumps of grass. No hard bottom or short grass here.
We poled through, but never saw any fish. We dropped back down river to see if we could find fish in the other flats and in the areas where we'd seen fish the previous day, but never saw a thing. Tough day, and we had to schlep all of our stuff up past North Charleston to another KOA because we couldn't keep our cabin at the Mt. Pleasant KOA.
Friday, we got up at 4:15 am to pack up our stuff and get to the Isle of Palms Marina ramp to hit the crack-of-dawn, skinny water reds that we heard frequent the shallow bays of the intercoastal. The skies were ominous, but they looked to be staying to our west so we motored towards Hamlin Sound. We were promised lots of hungry aggressive reds with no guides or clients to contend with (like in Grey's Bay). Sounded good.
We made our way up the creek and found huge oyster bars just as promised. We threw topwater flies along the shore as recommended but did not scare up any fish.
As low tide approached, we moved into the sound until we could take the motor no further and then we poled along the southern Mt. Pleasant shoreline in a series of little "bays" between oyster mounds. As promised, there were lots of reds and they were aggressively feeding. Problem is, we could not get them to eat! Shrimp were jumping out of the water all over and there were baitfish circling around. We threw crab flies, shrimp flies, spoon flies, baitfish patterns, everyting! Dem fish would not eat! A guide and his clients came by and said they had no luck getting a bite either. We continued to work the fish and watch in wonder and frustration.
Dark clouds approached and David made the smart call to begin heading for home. The rain started about halfway back and then we ran into an all out deluge - white out! Thankfully David used his GPS track to keep us headed in the right direction while I spotted approaching boats. We were drenched, but made it in safely thanks to David's heroic captaining!
At the ramp, as other skippers made their way in, we heard that the bite was off and that we should've been there yesterday - It was off the hook! (naturally). We were also told by one of the locals, that the magic fly for that area is a purple and black "peanut butter" fly - the reds can't resist them.
We were drenched and figured we'd call it a day and get an early start home. We learned a lot about the tides, the Wando, learned about some new spots on the Intercoastal, and a new way to find and catch reds.
We'll be back, and next time with a fist full of peanutbutters!