Month: January 2018


In past years, I used to closely monitor and track winter water temps here in Charleston, trying to understand at what level trout die due to cold water.  I used to get really obsessed by it, because a cold water kill means at least a couple years of poor trout fishing.  In the past few years, however, I have taken a more laid back attitude towards it because, really, what can you do about it?  Nothing. 

Here is one of the charts I made several years back, and it clearly shows the cold water of 2010, the last year we had a cold kill.

Since 2011, we have had a long stretch of very warm winters, some where the water hardly got into the 50’s.  That has made for some great trout fishing, both in numbers and in size.  

Enter 2018.  The chart tells the tale.  We have had temps as low as 42F in the harbor and below the known stun/kill temp for trout of 46F for more than a week straight.  In localized areas, the temp got much colder.  I personally observed 32F water in the upper Ashley with ice chunks floating down river.

Fishermen have reported seeing hundreds of dead fish in the shallows where they were not able to escape to deep water in time.  This includes not only trout, but redfish, sheepshead, black drum, flounder and mullet.  Some guide friends have stated that they have never seen dead redfish and sheepshead due to cold water in their lives fishing here.

It’s nature’s way of cleaning house and the fisheries will be fine, they will just need time to rebound.  Many have stated “why doesn’t SCDNR make a catch and release closure”.  The answer is that they cannot.  These calls are made by our state legislature (which most people think is absolutely ridiculous, but its a fact).  DNR has the ability to enact an emergency closure, however, this closes fishing for the species, so in effect it shuts down fishing.  Its a matter of wording as far as I understand it, but for this reason DNR is very hesitant to use it (for good reason).  What they can do, and have done in the past couple days, is request voluntary catch and release by anglers.  They have done this for seatrout specifically, but many of us think that doesn’t go far enough.  

We all want our fisheries to recover as fast as possible.  Guides, tackle shops, boating companies, lure makers, will all feel the effects of poor fishing.  If we focus only on seatrout, this will put extra pressure on other inshore species.  We believe this should go beyond the spawning season and through the entire year, as the fall is when a lot of fish can be caught and potentially harvested.  We need all fish around if they are going to rebound quickly – especially the large fish as they release the most eggs and are almost all female.  Studies have shown that a 15″ trout will make 9.5 million eggs in a spawning season, and an 18″ trout will make 17.6 million eggs.  It’s clear to see how important larger fish are to the rebound of the species.

I was mulling this over last week and trying to think of a way to start a grass roots initiative to encourage catch and release of all inshore species when I got a call from Daniel Nussbaum at Z-Man.  He was thinking the same way, and asked if we would like to join them in an initiative to release all inshore fish in 2018.  It’s a voluntary effort and one that we will follow and hope you embrace as well.  They designed some cool stickers with a hashtag #RELEASE2018SC.  We will have them available at the Haddrell’s Point Shallow Water Expo this weekend and plan to have them at our shop as well.  We hope you join us and put your stickers on your vehicles, boats, coolers, etc to let others know you are all-in with us on this initiative.  

Thank you for your support!


Pushing Your Limits

It’s fun every now and then to really get out of your comfort zone and try something new.  The tangible rewards may be few, but the ones that come are all the more sweet!  

Recently I did something that I’ve always said I’d do, but never have:  Make a trip with only a fly rod.  I’ve always referred to myself as an opportunistic fly fisherman.  What I mean by this is, I sometimes bring a fly rod, but won’t bring it out unless I’m seeing fish or on a good bite (or, the only thing the fish are feeding on are super-small grass shrimp for example).  I’m also a mediocre caster at-best, mostly because I don’t do it that often.

Josh casting at a small group of reds

My fly fishing mentors (Jeremy Mehlhaff, John Irwin, Jeremy Clark) all have told me that if you want to become a better fly fisherman, go without a fall-back plan, ie. fly rod only.  It turns out Josh, the son of some of our close friends, has become a fly fishing junkie…he’s got it bad… real bad!  He tears up the local golf course pond bass with his fly rod because he doesn’t have a boat (yet).  When he has a minute free from class at USC he’s in the Saluda casting for striper.  

What he hasn’t done yet is to catch a saltwater fish on fly.  So, what better opportunity to go fly only!  

We set out on the upper Wando hoping to try some of my reliable spots for trout and at low tide go searching on some flats where I have found winter redfish before.  A big tide made it difficult to get our floating lines down deep enough for trout and we ended up 0 for trout.  I was surprised because a fly is a great winter time trout offering.  

We poled around a mile of flats with a grand total of 3 or 4 redfish and a stray trout or 2 spotted.  The fish have moved to different flats since several years ago that I last pursued them.  Eventually, however, we found a couple fish in deeper water.  It’s actually kind of easy to fly fish in deeper water with floating line.  You simply let your fly sink and watch your floating line.  When it jumps, fish is on.

Great redfish on the fly, note heart shaped spot!

I was the first to land a fish, and it turned out to be a real nice red – 29″ with a heart for a spot.  I tagged and released it and we went looking for a fish for Josh.  It wasn’t long before I look over and he is hooked up to a redfish!  What a thrill watching him play it with a very satisfied look on his face.  It wasn’t the biggest fish, but it was the first which made it awesome.  We took a bunch of pics and tagged it, so hopefully if it’s recaptured we will know that this one was special.  

Nothing better than a first!
The first, but won’t be the last. Congrats Josh!

A very fun and memorable day.  Hope you get a chance to get out of your comfort zone and find it as rewarding as we did today…