Saltwater fishermen in the Palmetto State, perhaps more than any group of anglers, are shaped by the environment in which they indulge themselves. Tan lines on feet and around eyes, clothing designed for a harsh coastal environment, and even the stickers on the back of trucks make it an easy task to spot anglers with a passion for the coast and the fish that call it home.

However, some anglers have managed to transform their passion into an even greater part of their lives, finding inspiration and means in the art of saltwater angling. Recent Charleston import Paul Puckett, is one such person.

Puckett, raised and educated in Texas, spent four years in Jackson Hole, Wyo., working at Westbank Anglers, but his career as an artist didn't begin in earnest until 2004, when he moved to Atlanta and went to work for the Fish Hawk.

"The eight years I spent in Atlanta is when I decided I was going to pursue artwork and take it seriously," he said.

Puckett's early career as an artist consisted mostly of paintings of fish people had caught, sort of like an alternative to killing a fish and taking it to a taxidermist. The fish paintings were of the exact size and color of the original and included the fly that was used. To this day he does a lot of these types of paintings, and it is his most constant type of project.

Showing at the Southeastern Wildlife Expo the past four years eventually led him to move to Charleston, and his love for the Lowcountry is evident in his artwork. His *unique style and eye for detail comes through in his fish art, but more than just the fish provide inspiration.

"The sunrise, the water, the marsh, the trees and the shrimp and crab boats all have a story," he said. "They are all paintings waiting to happen."

If there is one inspiration for Puckett that is greater than all others, it is the redfish. He says more about redfish than any other singular item.

"I love these fish; they are bullies of the grass flats and eat flies very well," he said. "I love the tailing fish; they are etched in my mind.... I love painting or drawing a redfish tailing in the grass; it is my favorite moment on the water."

In an effort to display his artwork on a different canvas, such as hats and shirts, Puckett has partnered with Will Abbott for his latest project, Flood Tide Company, which is not about traditional fish art, such as found on most fishing-themed clothing. Instead, Puckett has gone another route and features scenes from popular movies, placing fish or rods in the hands of main characters' hands where guns or other props were once held. A popular example is his take on the iconic "High Plains Drifter." In his version, Clint Eastwood holds a fly rod instead of a whip, and it's re-titled "High Stick Drifter."

"We are having fun with it and are enjoying the responses," he said.

Often, we take for granted how special it is the place we live and play. Our fish, wildlife and the landscapes that make up the Lowcountry are like none other, possessing a power that is unique as it is great. The fact that an artist from Dallas - which is about as different from the Lowcountry as day is from night - can find inspiration, and a home here speaks volumes about how lucky Palmetto State anglers really are. Sometimes the best way to see what has been right in front of us for a long time is through the eyes of another who is seeing it for the first time.

More information on Paul Puckett and his artwork can be found online at www.paulpuckettart.com.