Recently a friend and I went on a fishing/scouting trip to an area that I hoped would be suitable for fly fishing for redfish. We went down to Hilton Head Island and put in at the Haigh Point landing then ventured up McKay’s Creek to the north end of Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refugee. According to navigation charts there is an area just off Pinckney Island, where at low tide is an area about a half square mile where the water is 1 to 2 feet deep. While I have boated around this area several times I never looked at it as a possible location to fish. We were scouting this area to see if there was any smooth cordgrass in the water that might attract redfish that feed on fiddler crabs or periwinkle snails that attach themselves to the blades of grass. It turns out I had it backwards. At low tide this area is just a sandy bottom where we saw a few blue crabs scampering along the bottom.
The grassy area I thought I would see partially submerged at low tide is actually partially submerged at high tide which is where I assume redfish would feed on crabs and snails. It is in areas like this that you can sight fish by seeing dorsal and tail fins above the surface of the water as the fish search for food, or you can see a distinct “V” moving on the surface as a fish swims just below the surface.
After fishing the area with no luck, we got in the boat and worked our way back through McKay’s Creek stopping at a few spots to do some bottom fishing for sharks. This area around the Broad River is a virtual shark nursery. When my grandkids visit in the summer they love to fish for sharks because they are abundant and easy to catch. We usually end up catching small blacktip and bonnethead sharks using cut mullet or squid as bait. Occasionally, we catch a larger shark which makes the day all the more exciting for them.
We didn’t end up catching any sharks or redfish on our scouting trip, but I did catch a small stingray. So even though we struck out fishing just being out on the water was worth the trip. Being in this area around Pinckney Island, as with any waterway here in the low country, is spectacular. The scenery changes with the tides and around every turn. While I grew up and lived in the mountains for most of my life I can’t say enough about how fortunate I feel to be living in the low country of South Carolina. I guess I am what the former director of the county department I worked for would call a “Damn Yankee”. He said tourists that visit this area and return home are “Yankees”, and those who visit but don’t go home are “Damn Yankee’s”. I take pride in that moniker, but he also said that since I was from West Virginia he kept me around for the entertainment value. I must have been an entertaining Damn Yankee. But I also understand his concern for the expansion of development in this area. On one hand it is amazing and on the other hand alarming how much development has taken place in the nine years I have lived here. Only responsible development can protect the water resources that makes this area special for fishing and shellfish growth.