As I pack up the family truckster for our annual vacation in the low country, I am trying to stay positive. Trying is my new thing when it comes to redfish. I will not be defeated before I leave. I will be defeated when I get there, like a normal human being. So in honor of my impending mediocrity in the face of marsh donkeys, here is one of our favorites from the vault.
RED: THE LAST LEGAL DRUG
By Scott Davis
Photos: Steve Seinberg and Scott Davis
Southern Culture On the Fly
Issue No. 4: Summer 2012
“we spot each other clearly by the wet pant legs, the dubbing or flashabou bits in the beard, the raccoon eyes”
Step back and think where you’d be if fish didn’t control your life. What magazines would be by your toilet? What stickers would adorn your boat’s tow vehicle? Maybe you have another passion, but I doubt it. It seems to be all or nothing, and not by choice.
Watching a redfish commit murders among the crustacean community in inches of water has got to be it…it’s the last legal drug…these tailers. When they tail, something dies—simple. Once you’ve seen it, it generally grabs you like an untreatable fever. And like a disease you’d never want to cure, you feed it thinking it will satisfy the addiction, but you’ve really made it much worse.
I meet very few “casual” redfish anglers. Most are sunburned, obsessive, smell funny and couldn’t give a damn about who won last night’s game. They tie flies out of necessity, stop to skin road kill, eat in the car, and forget birthdays, but can tell you the tides for the next month. If the flats aren’t going to flood, they’ll go where the fish go even if that means casting through tourists and labradoodles at the beach. The fish are always out there somewhere as are these maniacs, these wonderful misfits.
It becomes eerily cult-like, this lifestyle of fly fishing. Most people can’t tell by looking, but we spot each other clearly by the wet pant legs, the dubbing or flashabou bits in the beard, the raccoon eyes. We can feel the push pole or oar calluses in your handshake so don’t fake it, we know who you are.
It’s the nature of humans I suppose, to seek out what makes us happy and pursue it relentlessly, at all costs. The simplicity of fly fishing is its greatest merit. I think it’s the same with the redfish tails. They are simple. Vaguely colored, adorned with only bronze, blue and a speck of black, they lure us like mythological sirens into a life of searching—waiting and hoping for the chance at another glimpse.