Michael Sims here, Co-Founder and President of Hook + Gaff. It’s been a short while since I’ve written about any of our outdoor pursuits, and I’ll be honest, with the amount of rain we had this winter and through the spring, I was only able to get out on the river twice in the last 5 months. I live on the Lower Saluda River, and trout fishing was excellent when I was able to get out, but unfortunately the Upstate of SC was wet for most of the winter and spring and our river ran extremely high for the duration as all that water flowed our way. We are looking forward to our summer striper run on our section of the river, and local guide Jake Howard has already seen a few show up and is booking trips now.
April and May are always such a breath of fresh air for Carolinians. I don’t know about you, but after a cold winter and usually a windy or blustery March, I really look forward to the Masters, azaleas and dogwoods blooming, more fish starting to return to the creeks in the Lowcountry, and of course, our offshore dolphin run. The COVID virus unfortunately caused cancellations of many of our favorite events and even halted inshore and offshore fishing charters for a short time, but luckily, it looks like the worst is behind us and many of our friends are back in business.
Our local offshore anglers will tell you that late April and the month of May are usually about as good as it gets for offshore fishing anywhere. Dolphin start to come by the Carolina coast in numbers and the larger predatory fish are right there with them. I have been fortunate enough to get out twice in the last few weeks between periods of storms and rain. Our first trip in late April was a bit premature, but hey, you don’t know until you get out there and give it a go. It seems the run started a little later this year and most of our anglers confirmed it didn’t heat up until later in May. On that trip we put 6 dolphin in the box in the 20-30lb range. We didn’t quite get into them like we thought we would but all of them were pretty big. We did however, land one sailfish on that trip and we knew fishing was going to be very good in a few weeks.
We jumped on a Freeman named the Flashpoint captained by Joey Teague with a few of my friends in mid-May to get after them again. We had a one day window between fronts, and it turned out to be a good day. We hooked up with a sailfish within minutes of getting the first few lines out. We pulled the hook on that sail, but it wasn’t long until the dolphin action really heated up. Within about an hour we’d caught 14, with several multiple hook-ups. After the morning bite it slowed a bit. We trolled for most of the day but only picked up 4 more. We had a white marlin in the spread at one point, saw another sailfish jump several hundred yards behind the boat, and had two other boats fishing the same rip that landed blue marlin. When we got back to the dock I checked in with my buddy fishing out of Pawleys Island and they’d actually picked up a few yellowfin, which is quite a rarity in SC these days. All in all, I couldn’t ask for better fishing and better company. During these times of anxiety and political turmoil, it’s nice to be able to get out and leave the distraction behind. If anything, I hope that COVID has made us all realize what’s really important. I’ve been able to spend more quality time with my kids and wife, more time with friends, and more time doing things we all love to do. I realize that many people are hurting financially as businesses have been forced to shut down and we pray for speed in being able to re-open and we also pray for everyone’s health.
Thank you all for being friends of H+G!