Life in Charleston has revolved around the city's waterways since the beginning, and it always will, thanks to the locals that care and uphold the Holy City's traditions and culture. The marsh provides us with recreation, scenery, protection from the ocean, and last but not least, food.
This time of year brings very low tides and very weak high tides. Tides filled with schooling redfish, jumping shrimp, skittish marsh hens, and a plethora of additional creatures that refuge within the confines of the sawgrass and pluff mud.
For a lot of folks, winter is the time to harvest all of the above in order to sustain themselves for the year. For others, this season is a time to celebrate these traditions of hunting and fishing with a combination of the two: a good old-fashioned Cast and Blast.
A Cast and Blast, put simply, is taking a day to shoot a limit of marsh hen and reel in a limit of redfish, most often on a fly rod, all from one boat.
Marsh hen are finicky little birds, sort of like a sea bound bobwhite quail, with long stick legs, and a ferocious tenacity to protect their nests/eggs, which lay adrift on rafts made of dead sawgrass chutes.
Redfish are the kings of the marsh, always searching for food with their football-sized heads often deep in the mud digging for crabs, while their blue tinted, single spotted tails wave in the air, as a come-and-get-me sign to nearby anglers. And both fowl and fish make a delicious meal.
To access this au naturel Lowcountry grocery store, you have to have a boat and, not just any boat, but a boat with a knowledgeable guide. This is where we have to tip our hats to in-shore captains who make their living by showing the rest of us a good time out in the marsh. To get to the dead drift marsh hen nests and tailing redfish, your guide poles his skiff over flooded tidal flats, sometimes in 10" of water or less, sets you up for a shot or a cast, all the while keeping his movements and those of the boat completely silent. It's a tall order, but completely manageable for those who spend their days in the marsh.
Casting and blasting is an important tradition among the outdoorsmen in Charleston, kept alive by guides ready to take game hunter/anglers out for the time of their lives. As long as there are brisk, foggy winter mornings, stubborn marsh hen, and hungry redfish charging through the shallow tidal creeks, there will be eager sportsmen out there keeping Charleston's tradition of living off the land (and water) alive.
Heading into the marshes for a day of casting and blasting is an amazing way to spend time with friends and also reach back through time to reconnect with those that settled Charleston. They decided this region and its natural abundance was worth braving the hurricanes, gators, and mud. Thankfully the traditions of hunting and fishing have endured for a modern day spin on the timeless cast and blast....And of course, tables full of the freshest food imaginable is nothing to complain about.