Eric Sullivan owes his seamanship and fishing skills to his 21-year stint in the Coast Guard. In his free time, he would fish the waters of wherever his job landed him, whether it was the Bering Sea, the Atlantic coast, or Mars’s one puddle. Nowadays, most of his fishing takes place along the inlets and marshes of South Carolina’s Low Country as the owner of his own fishing-charter company, Triple Hook Fishing. Aboard his 22-foot bay boat, the US Coast Guard–licensed captain motors passengers on fishing trips to waters that are rich with redfish, trout, flounder, and seasonal fish such as sharks and king mackerel. Through these trips, Eric is able to share his passion for fishing with others, and help families create the type of lasting memories he has created with his own wife and kids.
The water starts to darken along a stretch of marsh grasses, just before its surface is slashed apart by the fins of hungry redfish. The redfish trap schools of mullet into a tight corral—and then go into a feeding frenzy. South Carolina fishermen love this scenario. The owners of The Charleston Angler love it, too, which is why they founded their shop back in 2000. The shop's crew of seasoned anglers supply fly, inshore, and offshore fishermen with tackle specific to South Carolina's waters, from the coastal flats that draw trophy tarpon to the inland lakes filled with blue catfish. Along with advising customers on gear from brands such as Shimano, Penn, and St. Croix, the shop hosts classes and seminars. These sessions can cover topics as broad as Orvis fly-fishing, or as specific as catching bass in the cypress-strewn swamps of Francis Marion National Forest.
Beyond tackle and apparel—some of which comes from their own "Redfish" line of t-shirts, trucker hats, ball caps, visors, and jackets—The Charleston Angler offers fly-fishing and light-tackle charters and runs an in-house embroidery boutique. The staff also posts tips, insights, fish haikus, and fishing reports on its Reel Blog and encourages customers to share their fish stories.
Captain John Ward Jr. presides over Affinity Charters’ trio of seaworthy vessels, which slice through Charleston Harbor’s surging whitecaps during boat tours, charters, and fishing trips. Ward Jr. holds a 100-ton Masters License from the U.S. Coast Guard, and his overarching goal is to provide guests with experiences that are safe, exciting, and productive.
During fishing trips, Captain Ward Jr. taps his more than 25 years of experience navigating Charleston's aquatic arteries to usher fisherpeople through the nutrient-rich ecosystem. Attendees cast their lines for numerous seasonal species, including sea bass, Spanish mackerel, and the increasingly rare leather boot.
Dolphin-encounters tours put seafarers face-to-bottlenose with an undulating army of slick-skinned mammals splashing through their natural habitat. Alternatively, information-hungry patrons can climb on board for an eco tour, where Captain Ward Jr. imparts facts about the harbor’s ecological ebb and flow, as well as its vibrant panoply of blacktip sharks, barracudas, and mer-senators. The harbor and sunset cruise allows drifting duos to observe the sun’s incandescent descent into a kaleidoscopic loch of rippling reds, oranges, and yellows, which glint off of downtown Charleston.
To assure fantastic seafaring on Charleston's waterways, Captains Source assembled a team of top-notch captains, each as unique and diverse as the tours they charter. Every captain boasts a U.S. Coast Guard 6-Pack license and is certified by USOBE or Clemson for the specific excursions they lead, assuring expertise piloting the ship and in the field of harbor history, fishing, or wildlife. Captains who are great with kids and families ferry them out onto the bay and estuaries for dolphin sightings and insight into the region's marine life, and harbor history tours reveal Charleston's close connections to the American Revolution and Civil War. Like the captains, the aquatic company's boats are also suited specifically for the tour, including sailboats, yachts, and offshore fishing boats. Wanting to make the glistening waterways available to the public for all occasions, they accommodate charters for business meetings, birthdays, reunions, and searches for runaway sea legs.
Joe Lotts and most of his staff graduated from Brevard College with a degree in wilderness leadership and experiential education. At Charleston Outdoor Adventures, they put their schooling to work by educating people about the coastline’s saltwater estuaries. Their classrooms are their kayaks, paddleboards, and 23-foot bay boat, and their coursework combines environmentalism with photo opportunism. For instance, the tour route to Morris Island Lighthouse and Fort Sumter flows past scenic marshland, local birds, and pick-up games of dolphin basketball. If guests prefer to explore alone, Lotts and crew also rent out its paddleboards and kayaks.
Jesse Nelson looks forward to summer weather—it means the sharks are coming to town. The Coast Guard–certified captain relishes the charters he takes with clients to hook and wrestle the oceanic predators that flock to the coast as the climate warms. Having navigated the Lowcountry's angling spots for his entire life, Jesse knows how to hunt down the toothy specimens as well as most other native fish. He pursues barracuda and king mackerel on nearshore reefs, and steers through salt marshes to land flounder, sheepshead, and red drum, always abiding by catch-and-release rules.
Guests needn't be fishers to board his 23-foot Polar Bay boat, however. Jesse also plans recreational river retreats that include ecological tours, shelling expeditions, and dolphin-watching voyages. He customizes each trip based on the crew's desired sights, whether they hope to snap wildlife photos or simply make fun of waterbirds for walking so goofily.