Half a year ago I eyed our fall schedule. The fall is the busiest of times for me. We have high school and college football games, planting our fall food plots, camp meeting at Indian Field and a family wedding to work around.
Not to mention that we have to have time to put out corn in feeders, check cameras, clean up the hurricane mess and, of course, deer hunt. After putting all of these events on the calendar, I focused on the first week in October to make a fall fishing trip to Edisto Island.
The main thing I miss about selling my beach house on Edisto is the convenience of having a house under which to store my boat and having all of our stuff in place so we could simply drive down and start fishing. Between taxes and insurance, I decided renting and driving to be the better option. Colleton County sure loved that beach house!
My childhood friend Mike Taylor spent three long days helping me rebuild my barn that was destroyed by a tornado this summer. It’s a debt I will always remember as he was the only person that willingly showed up to help us. I suggested to him while we were gushing sweat on the tin roof that we should just take a little time and relax with our wives when the air cooled in the fall. I know he didn’t have a lot of experience with saltwater fishing, but I knew he would like it. So we planned the trip.
The week brought about some challenges. There was a steady onshore and 20-knot wind pushing the seven-foot tide associated with the full moon. This made it a little tricky picking a place out of the wind to fish. Couple that with the high tide being before dawn and after dusk and it threw a monkey wrench into timing our trips around going out to eat and cooking. We just decided to do the best we could, which meant sitting out the morning tides and fishing from after lunch until dusk and then leaving before the water got into the grass.
I recently had my Yamaha engine serviced and had all of the fuel filters and screens replaced. The first afternoon we made it about 200 yards from the dock and the engine quit. The waterway wasn’t very busy and it took a while to get a tow back to the marina. Upon examination, we found that the service people had stripped the threads on the anti-siphon valve and pickup tube. The filings had jammed the valve partially closed.
That happened apparently because they had kinked the excess hose where it when through the bulkhead and it put sideways pressure on the valve when it was screwed into the new pickup. Over the last month or so, this hose crimped further and stopped the fuel flow to the engine, which meant that after we burned the fuel in the hose, filter and bulb, we were dead in the water.
Mike and I spent the rest of the afternoon shopping in Charleston for the parts to fix the boat. After making repairs, we all went to a new restaurant on the island and had a wonderful meal and a couple of libations.
The next afternoon saw us return to the marina with our wives. The wind was howling and the tide low, so we moved around the creeks and fished dock pilings. The result was a few nice trout and a lot of 14-inch redfish. Breta, as usual, caught the largest redfish and we kept it for the grill. We left the boat in the water for an easier start the next day. That night, we met my nephew Andrew and his mother Tara at the Fire Station Grill in Hollywood and after a nice meal and a couple of glasses of wine, we retired to Edisto for the evening.
As we waited for low tide to come and go, we caught the first half of the noon games on Saturday before we headed to the marina. The wind had died dramatically and we raced to St. Helena Sound to await the incoming water to fill the mouth of the creek I wanted to fish.
A boat was already in my first drop, so we moved on and went deeper into the creek.We had planned to buy live shrimp from Bennett’s Point but they were out, so we were limited to mud minnows and artificials. The trout were smacking small shrimp all over the creek and they preferred those to our mud minnows. We watched helplessly as the fish moved all around us without so much as a shrug to our baits.
Well, we had mud minnows and the tide had turned, so it was time to go to the honey hole. We found ourselves running with another boat along Ashe Island. I sped up, he sped up. I could have easily outrun him but very soon I would have to cut across his bow into shallow water, so I slowed. Sure enough he turned into the creek we intended to fish. We stopped and waited. Yes! He went much farther into the creek than the rake I often found redfish on.
As we idled in and anchored, I saw the back of a redfish tailing on the drop-off. It wasn’t long before Andrew had boated two fish. A crab came in on my next cast and I wished I would have noticed that he had abraded my line because on the next cast, I hooked the largest fish of the afternoon.
He would have been above the slot limit, so I got 99 percent of the satisfaction fighting him to the boat, where he broke off before I could grab him by the tail. The honor of largest fish soon went to Mike. I had a good hit on a fish I missed. I told Mike to cast just past my cork. The result was an immediate strike and he landed a fish just in the slot. The crabs started attacking our baits, so we boated about a half-dozen to throw into the pot at home.
The run ended as the sun began disappearing in the marsh and the sand fleas came out with a vengeance. It was time to go. There were large sport fishing boats coming back through the sound, so we raised our running lights and using the lighted GPS and depth finder, we navigated our way through the shallows and back to the channel.
As the light faded, we ran the intercoastal waterway back through the South Edisto while dodging the crab traps that defied our floodlights. It was smooth and I could have run faster, but I wanted the day to last just a little longer. No one spoke until we made the turn into Big Bay Creek. We knew the ladies had started a nice meal at the house and the fillets and crabs would add to the evening. I was happy tired.
Dr. John Rheney has been writing his outdoors column for The Times and Democrat since 1984.