The first time an angler sees a redfish meandering through the shallow grass flats of the Lowcountry in search of food and presents an artificial lure in just the right place and entices that redfish to eat, it’s a moment that will be etched in your memory. your mind, especially if this bait. was gifted with fly fishing gear.
David Hance, store manager of Charleston’s Orvis store, a family-owned retailer specializing in fly fishing, hunting and sporting goods, remembers that moment when recounting his most memorable fly fishing experience.
“It was probably around my senior year of high school,” said Hance, who grew up in Mount Pleasant and attended Wando High School. “I was wading a flat here in Charleston and it all came together perfectly, which doesn’t always happen like that. We saw some fish coming around an edge and they came right at me. I made a good presentation and caught the redfish probably 10 feet in front of me when I was standing in the water. That really hooked me on the redfish.”
Fly fishing enthusiasts are not new to the Lowcountry, but their numbers have increased in recent years.
Hance said he was exposed to fly fishing at a young age when his father gave David and his brother a youth fly rod. They tried catching redfish in Lowcountry streams and also tried trout on vacation trips to the mountains.
During his high school and college days, Hance became more serious about fly fishing. But he really got hooked after college when he moved to Colorado, where there were plenty of opportunities during the six years he lived there.
Hance will be conducting introductory fly fishing seminars during the Southeast Wildlife Expo. The half-hour seminars will take place at 12.30pm and 4.00pm on February 17-19 at Brittlebank Park and are included with general admission.
He said the SEWE seminars are a condensed version of the Fly Fishing 101 classes offered by Orvis, with lively crowd participation. Hance said the hardest part of fly fishing is taking that first step and making the decision that it’s something you want to do. It is not the elitist sport that many make it out to be, nor is it incredibly difficult to learn.
“I’m trying to break the idea that fly fishing is super, super hard to get into. You just have to take the initiative to start doing it. You can fly fish in the same areas that you fish with conventional gear,” he said . .
Redfish, also known as red drum, are South Carolina’s most targeted inshore species, and efforts continue today to ensure the population remains stable. To keep a redfish, it must be at least 15 inches long and no more than 23 inches, peramaters designed to ensure that the majority of the population has a chance to reproduce. Anglers can have no more than two redfish per day, and there is a daily boat limit of six.
Other commonly targeted inshore fish are trout, bluefish and Spanish mackerel, but as you gain experience, there are many other species you can pursue.
“People can use the same approach as they would with light tackle on shore, you just do it with a fly rod,” Hance said. “Obviously you’re not casting live bait, but the approach and finding the fish is the same.”
Fly fishermen prefer boats, especially shallow-draft boats equipped with a pole rig that are able to glide silently in a few inches of water. But they are not entirely necessary. Hance noted that Google Earth is a powerful tool for anglers to identify publicly accessible sites that you can walk to.
“Another thing I would mention if you’re new to the area or visiting the city is that you can access places by kayak or paddleboard, either by buying your own or renting one,” he said. “It gives you a little more mobility. You can cover more ground and get to more accessible floors.”
Hance said the Lowcountry is mostly known for summer flood tides, where redfish rooting for small crabs or other morsels of food reveal themselves in shallow marsh grass with their spotted tail wagging in the sunlight. There is also low tide fishing throughout the year.
“Once you start and learn the basics, then fly fishing is just like anything. It takes practice and going fishing,” Hance said. “You’re not going to have great success right out of the gate. It’s like anything… A lot of people see fly fishing as something really difficult and challenging, where it’s not as hard as it may seem.”