By Captain Owen Plair
Bay Street Outfitters
Being born and raised on the waters of Beaufort was not only a blessing, but a way of life. A life that revolves around the ever changing tides of our local rivers and creeks. Most people who live in Beaufort live their lives based on these ever changing tides — whether you’re fishing, shrimping, going for a boat ride or just hanging out at the sandbar with the family. Each activity you do on the water here revolves around what the tide is doing.
One of the best parts about our tide system in Beaufort is how well it supports the great inshore fishery we have. As a child, I grew up on the Broad River and spent my days learning the waters with my father, Frank Plair, who taught me all that could be known about the tides and navigating the water at certain times of the tides. Whether it’s low, mid, or high tide, you always need to know your surroundings. From hidden oyster beds, rising sandbars, or very shallow water, there are a lot of hazards when it comes to certain times in the tides. Knowing the waters and tides here is key, and even more important when it comes to fishing.
Beaufort has a great fishery and a large assortment of species including spottail bass (redfish), speckled sea trout, cobia, flounder, tarpon, Jack Crevalle, Spanish Mackeral, etc. The methods of how we fish for each species is always unique by the times of year and also very dependent on the tides of the day. For example, if you are taking your family out for a day of fishing, it’s best to fish two hours before or two hours after high tide, working along grass lines, oyster beds and small creeks where the redfish, trout, and flounder are thriving. A popping cork, 16”, 20 pound mono leader, 2/0 hook, and a split shot in the middle works great with live mud minnows or shrimp. Spin fishing is something people of all ages can enjoy.
As a fly fisherman, my days of fishing fully depend on a good tide. Not as many people fly fish, but we see increasing numbers of people finding that Beaufort is a top place to be for targeting red fish on the fly. When we get a good flood high tide from 7.5-8 feet, that’s the time to look for tailing reds in the short spartina grass flats, or poling the flats boat in just inches of water at low tide looking for schools of reds pushing around and feeding. We also target cobia on the fly either at slack high or slack low tide when there is no moving water. Fly fishing in Beaufort is something that I recommend to anyone who wants to experience something not only fun, but rewarding.
Growing up in Beaufort is what led me to my profession as an Orvis Endorsed Guide for Bay Street Outfitters. My passion is not only fishing, but taking people out to share the vast amount of water, marsh and, of course, the excellent fishery we have here. Sharing my knowledge and experience with people from all over the United States is great, and every day when I see how amazed and joyful my clients are to be on the water fishing, it reminds me how lucky I was to grow up and live here in Beaufort.
If you are new to the area, or simply want to learn more about fishing here, Bay Street Outfitters is the place to go. We have four Orvis Guides, casting lessons, fly and spin fishing equipment, and also the right clothing for being out on the water.
Get out and fish!