Tailers Cup is one heck of a weekend in Charleston, SC. Each year, anglers from all over the country come to the Lowcountry to put their skills to the test and to share tall tales from the past year. Rules include: 2 anglers per boat, must be caught on fly, winner is decided by combining up to 3 fish total length. (The winning team this year landed at 97").
One of the things that we enjoy doing with our Ambassador team is bringing them together to get outdoors and get to know each other better. This year, we brought down our NC freshwater Ambassador Harrison Beckwith to team up with our SC salt Ambassador Johnny Crislip. Together, these guys make up a pretty legendary crew. Harrison guides full time on trout streams in Western North Carolina. And Johnny is a local captain where he is constantly booked on inshore and offshore trips.
The day was a blast despite the wicked weather. We're talking ripping tides that made staking out in the grass really tough. 20 knot plus winds that were howling all day, which made casting extremely challenging. Really warm waters and mullet soup, which made finding and seeing fish extra tough. Pockets of rain throughout the day making things slick. And to add to it all, a broken push pole about halfway through the day.
But, you play the cards you're dealt, and it wouldn't be a normal Tailers Cup if things didn't go a little bit wrong and get a little bit interesting. The playing field was certainly level.
We splashed our boat early to get out for low tide and hopefully escape some of the conditions. That morning we saw a few fish, lost one, were greeted with rain and wind, and began to accept the conditions for the day ahead.
Things weren't lining up and we needed to get a new push pole, so we took a halftime break and headed over to Home Team to refuel and get a few game changers under our belt.
Back on the water by 1pm for the afternoon flood tide, things started to brighten up. While Johnny poled through the flats, Harrison took reign on the bow as we continued the search. Within just a few seconds, the day changed, as Harrison spotted a tail at 12'o'clock and presented a crab pattern right in front of the moving fish. A quick eat, strip, and set, and Harrison was hooked up and we were on the board.
After a quick measure of the healthy red (26"), we released her back into the wild and took a second for a victory beer. Next, we begin to explore a few different flats in good spirits, anxious to get number 2 and 3 for the day.
We kept searching into the final hour of the day, where things really started to get interesting. Within the last flat, as tides pushed us quickly through it, we saw 4 rising tails and had over 30 shots at them. It was a little deeper water and we knew these fish were big. Harrison's cast were in true pro style as he chucked his fly back and forth with text book back casts and side casts. But, they weren't eating what we were serving and time expired.
With one successful fish on the books and a day full of hard work, we were more than pleased to head over to Reverly Brewing Co for the weigh in and YETI for the after party to relive common felt challenges and stories from the day and plan future trips ahead with the fly fishing community. It's times like these that really make working in the outdoor industry worth it. Good people, hard work, and being out in beautiful wild places.
It might be time for this tournament to become a biannual thing and we'll certainly be blocking this weekend off again for next year. Thanks to the Badfish and Flood Tide Co. guys for continuing to put together one of the best redfish on fly tournaments in the country.