I rolled up to a walk-to flat I haunt hoping to at least see some tailing redfish this morning. As I stepped out of the Jeep the 20-plus mile-an-hour winds hit me. Dang. I strung up my fly rod and sipped my coffee waiting on my buddy to show up. We got all geared up and started walking to our spot. The wind was kicking pretty hard and we wondered if we’d be able to get a cast off at all. As the water rose and the wind stayed steady we watched.
The grass got shorter as the water rose and the tension was climbing as well. I closed my eyes and took in the smell of salt water and pluff mud. I love this time of day. The sun barely peeking over the horizon, the sound of water around my legs and the soft pull of the mud on my shoes.
Spring has sprung here in the Low-Country. The fiddler crabs were out in force, crawling about and in and out of their holes. We stood three talking about redfish and flies and how bad we wanted to catch one. As the water rose over our knees Austin saw the first tail. About 15 feet out and moving right. I stripped line out and looked for him to show his tail again. Nuthin. I blind casted to a few choice looking clumps of grass and waited. Then I hear Austin suck in his breath and try moving as quietly as possible as he moved towards me and there less than five feet from him was a beautiful sight. In the early morning sunlight a big redfish tail flopped lazily back and forth. I began to cast and with all my might I managed a ten foot cast into the wind. Perfect cast to where he used to be. I waited, I waited some more and about twenty feet to the right the tail popped up again. A quick double haul and with the wind this time I dropped the fly in his path. I mended my line and waited to feel the pull. Nuthin. Ghosted on us. Never saw another sign of him. We worked around a little at all the tails we saw, trying to cast into the wind and getting a fly close enough but apparently not close enough. I worked my way down wind a little and saw one small tail then gone. I turned around and saw something floating on the water near Austin. It looked like a small piece of wood. “Dude! It’s a mouse!” I heard above the wind. As I made my way over I saw this very large mouse or a small rat paddling away.
He got close enough to Austin and looked like he was going to climb aboard. Austin gave him a quick push away and he continued his paddle. I had two visions in my head at that point. One was of a big ol redfish crashing on him and having a mammal snack for brekkers and the second was how I was going to tie up a rat pattern to target them on top water. We worked our way down the flat looking for more fish. I caught up to the rat and he was still paddling away. He got hung up on my fly line and hung on for dear life. I figured he had survived swimming around all those reds and he deserved a break. I dropped my fly rod and he climbed aboard. I dragged him over to a clump of grass and reeds and dropped him off.
Thinking I had paid up my karma debt, I figured it was time to hook a fish. The wind kept howling and rising more than we thought it would. Austin suddenly froze and started stripping line from his reel and he got that tunnel vision and I saw the fish. A nice slot sized red working over a clump of grass. He was down wind and an easy cast for Austin. He let fly and dropped the fly a foot from the grass. I saw the fly sinking and the fish moved towards it and there was a big swirl and boil. Austin set the hook and the fly came flying back at him. No sign of the fish. Nada. Gone without a trace. With white caps in the grass we decided to walk back down and wait on the water to move out. We sat on an old chunk of driftwood and debated on the fishing this year so far. The water started moving out and we walked our haunt again.
We worked over all the usual holes and found no more fish. We were beat up by the wind and decided to call it a day. No hook ups but seeing tailing redfish got my winter blood racing and ready for the next set of flood tides. I guess since I did help that little rat out with my fly rod you could say I did catch a “rat” today. As always a great day of fishing. Getting back out and seeing those fish tailing away was some good medicine and was sorely needed. Welcome Spring. Welcome back tails.