Harbormaster Stan Jones came to the Charleston Harbor Marina in March 2010 with a goal to make it more of a fishing destination. "We plan to host multiple fishing tournaments in order to promote the fisheries industry here in the Lowcountry," said Jones, who is learning to speak the saltwater lingo after starting with a freshwater background on Lake Murray.
Fuss runs Holy City Fishing Charters (843-417-3052) and likes to help those like Jones, who need some experience and confidence in order to go fishing on their own.
"I let the fish determine how to teach tactics to new anglers," he said.
Before I could ask how he let fish do the teaching Jones saw his cork and live shrimp go under the water. He yanked back on the rod, lowered the rod tip and reeled in at double-speed while a small trout surfed to the water's surface before spitting the hook.
"See, his reaction was to yank at the hookset and then crank on the reel, but a slow and steady pull is all that you need when using a circle hook," Fuss explained.
He's correct; there's nothing like a few lost fish to help teach an angler how to properly fight one. Fishing the Wando River from his 21-foot Sea Pro, Fuss can usually keep his clients on fish long enough for them to get the hang of it, and before long, Jones boated and released a redfish and a nice 20-inch trout with a fat belly.
Jones caught his first-ever redfish on Oct. 9, 2010, while fishing a mud flat by his family's dock at Edisto Beach. Making use of the marina where he works, Jones has caught a few trout by the light of the docks in the evening. He has still never caught a sheepshead or a black drum and is motivated to change that this year.
When checking on the bull reds at the jetties, Fuss likes to fish with some hand-sized mullet chunks for bait. Using 7-foot Sea Striker rods paired with Shimano TLD 15 reels, Fuss likes a 3-foot leader of 80-pound fluorocarbon on a Carolina rig with a 3-ounce egg sinker and a 6/0 circle hook.
"After anchoring up by the rocks, I'll cast the mullet a bit closer to the rocks," Fuss said. "Smaller fish will nibble at the bait, but I watch for when a large red drum eats - when the rod tip doubles over in one smooth motion."
Jones did not get a taste of a bull red on his trip, but he learned that Fuss likes to fish any of the bends in the jetty walls, rather than the straight sections, and that the best way to get a good hookset is to keep the rod in the rod holder as long as possible Jones, who keeps his boat on a lift at the marina, now has enough experience to try fishing the jetties again on his own - especially after Fuss taught him how to tie his bread-and-butter Carolina rig with a 2/0 Kahle hook and quarter-ounce sinker.
"The offset of the Kahle hook makes this rig work well for flounder when fished on the bottom, and it is just as effective for trout and bass when it is fished up top with a cork," Fuss said.
Jones' marina will be the host site for several tournaments this summer, including Operation Inshore Slam and the Kings for Vets event - the latter special for Jones, a Marine veteran.
"This is where I am based now, and I am motivated to learn about saltwater fishing as fast as possible," Jones said.