Clockwise from the top: Spoons, bunny leech, lefty’s deceivers, clouser minnows, jig spinners (+some with tubes!), clouser minnows, CB shrimp, CB spoon flies, my carolina rig box, a big old flatfish-style lure I got for $2 in Michigan, hair jigs, safety-pin style spinners, and a topwater plug

Tonight Claire and I hit the road for Michigan, our first stop on our way to Charleston, South Carolina.
The impetus for the trip is a family wedding, but we’re making it into a vacation. We don’t have any particular plans during the week We don’t have any particular plans except trying to catch some saltwater fish!!*

*That’s mostly me; Claire wants to go fishing, but she’s not obsessed with it like I am

I’ve been trying to funnel everything the internet has to say about saltwater fishing into my brain. I’ve been trolling South Carolina fishing forums for information, scouring every article on the internet that mentions “surf fishing”, “redfish”, “fly fishing flats”, “fly fishing redfish”, “carolina rig”, and some stranger searches like “clouser minnow on carolina rig.”
It’s not like I’ve never been to the ocean; I went a few times in Europe, and a few years ago I fished from Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles (well, Santa Monica). I didn’t catch anything, but I was ill-equipped and ill-informed.
I’m hoping this time will be different.
To say I’m excited about the chance to fish the ocean a few times next week is a huge understatement. Depending on other plans, I may not be able to fish more than once, but I’m prepared for two different scenarios.
I bought some ginormous lead egg weights, barrel swivels, and put together a “carolina rig” box for throwing stuff out into the ocean. The internet seems to think there can be many kinds of different fish in the surf that will take a wide variety of lures and presentations. I plan on throwing a bunch of spoons, soft plastics, and if I can figure out how to catch mole crabs (aka “sand fleas” I think) I’ll stick’em on a hook and toss’em out there.
I’m not sure what size will be best, so I’m bringing a bunch of sizes. A couple storebought spoons, a big old one I found and cleaned up with my dremel, and a bunch I put together myself.

Like new! Removed the rust, swapped out the split rings and put on a fresh hook

I keep hearing about “the flats,” and in looking at a map of Kiawah Island, South Carolina, I think all that muddy looking stuff inland might be flats. Even now it’s unclear to me whether this land floods every time the tide comes in, or it’s just a marsh or something. This Michigan boy does not understand.
What I do understand is wherever these “flats” are, they can be full of fish. Fish that will take a variety of lures thrown with spinning gear- or more exciting to me, a fly rod. I’ve got boxes with jigs and spoons and spinners, and other boxes filled with freshly-tied streamers I hope could tempt some redfish. If I have the chance, I can’t think of anything more exciting than taking a kayak out into the flats and floating/wading for ocean fish.
My take on a Lefty’s Deceiver

I know nothing about fishing saltwater, other than what the internet has told me recently. Ocean fishing seems to be a completely different game- the fish are constantly moving, not like smallies or trout in a stream behind a rock. And apparently you can see the fish! That is not something I’m used to in the muddy water I usually fish here in Illinois.
Some of the lures are new to me as well- in particular, the spoon fly might be the strangest thing I’ve ever seen. According to a large number of websites, redfish love them, so I tied a bunch. These aren’t the kind of flies I could buy from my local Dick’s, especially considering the fly selection at my local Dick’s is severely lacking.
This site gave me instructions, but of course I disregarded most of them due to lack of materials. I cut some thick clear plastic from a fishing line box to the right shape, tied it on a hook, and covered the top with nail polish. It looks pretty weird, but I have a feeling it will have a great action in the water. I tied it on a hook with a weed guard since apparently the flats are full of grasses.

I’ve tried to tie a crab fly at least ten times and I just can’t make it work with my materials. Instead, I tried tying some shrimp flies. Most of the recipes I found were either overly complicated or looked nothing like shrimp. I improvised a couple I think look pretty shrimp-y.
CB’s Shrimp Fly with turmeric-dyed guinea feathers from Michael’s

It’s good to feel back in the swing of things. I’m on a tying-spree, without the aid of coffee.
I suppose it would be silly to tie so many flies for a one or two-outing trip in saltwater, but I’m fairly positive local bass will eat these flies too. Especially since I’ve started adding guitar-string weed guards to many of the flies, making them easier to fish in bass habitat. I think most tiers use thick mono, but I’m not going to buy 100 yards of 70 pound mono just for weed guards. I recently replaced the strings on my nylon guitar and kept the old ones for this purpose.
Will I get the chance to fish in South Carolina? Will I have any success surf fishing? Will I suck up my fear of being eaten by alligators and explore the flats? Tune in and find out!

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