When Martin Hox left the Northeast and moved to Mount Pleasant three years ago, he brought plenty of fishing prowess with him, having fishing the North American Bass Circuit for six years. Knowing that South Carolina's tidal estuaries would prove daunting to a newcomer, he posted a simple query on the most popular fishing website: "Where should I fish?" to which someone replied "In the water."

Hox posted the same query on a local fishing club's website, and guess what? They sent him GPS coordinates about where to wet his line.

Now president of the East Cooper Fishing Club (www.eastcooperfishingclub.net); Hox has teamed up with the founders in order to provide opportunities for others to learn about saltwater fishing. Capt. Brian Garris, a full-time guide was a co-founder of the club, whose mission statement is to help other people learn to fish and to help kids have somewhere to come to fish. Garris knows that growing up in the area reveals many subtleties of the spartina marsh and tidal fluctuations that newcomers will not recognize.

"There was no way for people to learn about fishing in the ICW, and not everyone who knew about local fisheries was being helpful - and to me, that just wasn't polite," said Garris (www.thereeldealcharters.com).

The first Monday of each month, anglers can attend club meetings that always feature a helpful speaker such as a tackle rep, a boat dealer or mechanic or a local captain who wants to share their knowledge. Annual dues are $40, and membership ages range from 12 years old to 73.

Garris, Hox and Ed Kidney, a club vice president, agreed to help an angler find fish one day, and you know what - they weren't biting. Three spots that had been productive were dead, so Garris moved from the Cooper River to Hamlin Creek, behind the Isle of Palms. The 15-minute run between the spots took place at low tide, and Garris said, "I always tell new anglers to ride around at low tide to get the lay of the land, then fish that same structure when the water is on it."

The boat arrived at an ancient dock dripping with oyster shells and standing in water that was a cleaner green color due to the proximity to the ocean. Garris dropped his line near the structure, and the rod doubled-over when a redfish "with shoulders" took the bait and swam into the pilings, breaking his line. Another bait was pitched to the same spot, and the rod doubled-over again, but this time Garris used a simple technique that allowed him to land the 30-inch, 10-pound redfish.

What was the top-secret technique? When fish are using the drag against you and breaking you off, simply hold your hand over the spool after you get hooked up and don't allow any line to go out. You may still break the line - a lot less likely with braid - but most of the time you will convinced the fish to swim in another direction, and then you can play him. Simple tactics like this one are helpful to fishermen who don't know any better.

The next time a rod doubled over, it belonged to the fishermen they had taken with them on the trip. The "hand-on-the-spool" trick worked like a charm. Nothing says "that works" quite like a 28-inch, 7-pound red.

Changing locations again, Garris switched over to popping corks with live mud minnows. The trout weren't biting, but a small school of stingrays moved through in their standard wingtip-to-wingtip formation. Garris started popping his cork frantically, and he immediately drew a strike from a fish.

"You'd be surprised how many times I've caught a trout like this before," Garris said.

"The rays really stir up the bottom when they come through, and some fish get active because of it," Kidney added.

Once again, locals know this stuff, and some are willing to share.

The club has a fishing match-up program that exists to assist getting anglers safely on productive waters.

"We will make anybody of any skill level welcome," said Hox.

The club holds three inshore tournaments a year and on July 26 will conduct a fish fry for Meals on Wheels in Mount Pleasant for the fourth year in a row. Members donate fresh fish in order to benefit their community.

Fishing clubs can offer a lifetime of friendships, or maybe they can offer that little tip that helps one become a better angler. All anglers share the maritime natural resources and groups like the East Cooper Fishing Club help more folks enjoy and respect the outdoors.