Salt Pond Redfish
Encompassing more than 630 square miles, South Carolina Lowcountry contains one of the most extensive salt marsh environments in the United States. While all of this environment is accessible by a short drive, Brays Island Plantation residents don’t even need to leave their communal “backyard” to enjoy some of the best fishing the Lowcountry offers.
“We’ve had great success putting owners on fish,” says Jess Haynes, a full-time fishing guide at Brays Island. “Our ponds are loaded with monster fish. They tail year-round and a shot at one is almost assured on every trip.”
The species that receives the most attention on the Plantation is redfish, which grow huge here. Trout, flounder, and even the occasional tarpon also find their way into the ponds on Brays Island, which are all tidal fed. When the tide pushes in, the rice gates open, pushing water, fish, crabs, and shrimp into the ponds. When the tide reaches full high, the gates close, trapping everything inside.
The ponds aren’t terribly deep, so much of the fishing is sight fishing. “We’ll walk the bank and look for actively feeding fish,” explains Paul Burton, a Brays Island owner and avid fly fisherman. “If you find an active fish and can make a good cast, you have a great chance of hooking up.”
The ponds at Brays Island are also great for targeting big fish with a fly rod. The ability to see the fish prior to casting makes this a fly angler’s dream. “We use 7- to 8-weight fly rods with a long 10-foot, 15-pound leader,” Jess says. “The water is clear in the winter which makes stalking them easy.”
Crab and shrimp pattern flies work best when the fish are tailing, but the most amazing bite is on a popper or gurler when the fish are feeding on minnows. “They torpedo a fast retrieval and blow up the fly,” Jess explains. “It’s comparable to buck fever when you are 10 feet from a 20-pound redfish about to
take your fly.”
If you are not a fly fisherman and would like to familiarize yourself with the sport, Brays Island regularly hosts fly fishing seminars on the plantation. Jess Haynes, Bill Coleman, and Paul Burton are ready and willing to help you take up this fantastic sport.