Doug Roland is local outdoor enthusiast and fourth generation waterman who is passionate about conservation and the preservation of the outside world. A transplant from Georgia, now in love with the coastal marshes and inspired by the ecentric details of the region, he is the creator of the Lowcountry Journal where he has documented in writing, photography, and video the unique characters and outdoor pursuits of the South Carolina coast.
Old pups can not only learn new tricks , but love em as well. What's that song? Something, something, "in the strangest of places if you look at it right." The other evening I snagged a seat on Ryan's skiff and went out to Bulls Bay with the rest of the crew from Flyline Media, Rich Walker and Pat Person. I should have realized this pup was in for something special just by the looks on their faces as we pulled up to some grass, the edges beginning to hum with the sound of an invading tide.
It was still. Hot. The sky looked burned and beaten, a storm walking off into the ocean with its back turned. My shirt seemed to weigh twice as much as before. I wrestled through a cooler looking for something. Wasn't sure what I'd choose, I was just trying to ignore the strange chunk of foam tied to the hook on my 9 weight. How was I going to keep throwing that goddamn thing without switching to what I knew would work? This is going to be awkward, I can't insult my friend. But, what would unfold as the invasion surged into a full surrender of the grass was nothing short of a revelation. The tails were the same, the glare, the mullet , the wind always finding my bad side, but nearly everything else would forever change the way I look at a flood tide.
My father used to say that it was far better to exaggerate something you love than to be satisfied with the subtle jaded explanation of someone who has seen everything and dreams no longer that they might fall deeper in love. For his sake, I won't hold back. I've always been told, sometimes endlessly, that Redfish dig, they look down, they grub, thier focus is where the grass meets the mud, not where it reaches for the sun. Well, sorry Joe, but it just ain't so.
And as I started my first cast that evening, a tail not more than 60 feet away, my doubt drying like fresh concrete, I settled that little chunk of foam just to the left of the fish, who was digging away in some dark unseen bottom. I thought of how many times I had cast a fly at one of these guys, watching as the fly settled to the bottom and the holding my breath as the tail dropped slowly beneath the surface, those next few seconds when magic is still possible, then the 20-count as you begin to know that one shot was down and you were back to hoping the whole fantastic sequence might occur just once more. A tight line to sear another memory into the vaults of good times. I waited. And as this tail, like so many before it, sank into the dark, something different emerged.
I squinted hard to refocus, everything slowing down now. A face. Two eyes. And then, for some odd reason I thought of a submarine with the face of a tan colored frog in a swamp. And then, a bomb went off.
The magic here isn't in the fact that these guys caught a few Redfish on topwater flies in the grass, it's that they had the balls (and possibly insanity) to commit totally to the pattern. They believed they could get 'em, they left everything else in the truck, and they completely changed the game. They've achieved consistency in something that was supposed to be an anomaly, and I for one can't wait to see what happens next. Thanks boys, for one amazing session in the grass.
Photos (2) and video by Doug Roland, photo (black and white) by Ryan Rice.