Too often my Hilton Head fishing days have ended by reciting the loser’s mantra, “that’s why they call it fishing, not catching”! While this may be understandable coming at it as a new part time transplant to the area, facing the seemingly endless waters, marshes and rivers without a clue, this has also (unfortunately) been the situation at the end of recent charter trips. Last Saturday morning my friend Bruce and I took a trip with Coastal River Charters that opened my eyes to the exciting possibilities low country fishing can offer, particularly under the guidance of a true professional.
Jack McGowan, the owner and captain of Coastal River Charters, has been fishing the waters from Savannah to Hilton Head and beyond for most of his 56 years. His gentle, teacher’s approach to a charter is refreshing, and reflects the confidence that teaching his customers a few “secrets” and where and how to fish will not lose business, but bring them back again. After all, few of us can pay a guide every time out, but fishing in the low country can be rather intimidating when you consider all the combinations of tide, wind, and location that factor into a successful trip. The desire to improve the catching to fishing ratio takes many days on the water with a seasoned veteran like Jack, and I think Jack knows that teaching his customers how to catch fish on their own is also good for repeat business.
We left the Bahia Bleu Marina in Thunderbolt, GA Saturday morning worried that the 15 to 20 mph NNE winds would hurt the bite. Our worries were quickly put to rest when my first cast produced a keeper sized Redfish that resulted in a text to Janet boasting that the men would be bringing back dinner that night (without hitting the Piggly Wiggly). The next 3 hours or so produced enough Redfish, Seatrout, & Black Drum for a delicious night of grilling on the back patio. Jack is a true conservationist and encouraged us to keep enough to eat, but to save some for the future of this wonderful fishery. As always, when the fishing is good, the trip ended far too quickly. Jack not only got us on the fish, but also gave us a great tour of the beautiful bays and marshes near Savannah.
If you want a truly rewarding inshore fishing experience, take my word for it and book a “catching” trip with Jack McGowan at www.coastalrivercharters.com! Jack guides in the waters of both Savannah and Hilton Head year round. He also occasionally gives seminars at the Freedom Boat Club locations in Savannah and Hilton Head.