Wading... many images flood the mind at the mention of the word. The sharp grass cutting into your calves, sinking waist deep into rancid pluff mud, wind so strong you can barely cast your line, and gnats as thick as a brick wall when the wind calms down — it's not for the faint of heart.
Yet hundreds of bright eyed 'do-it-yourself' fishermen show up every year around flood tide season, simply looking to chase Redfish around the lowcountry's storied tidal flats. Many go home having only experienced the wrath of angry Blue Crabs, and only a handful leave having felt the power of a Redfish on the end of their line.
Wading is a tough game. The whereabouts of some of the most beautiful tidal flats in the lowcountry are guarded, and will remain guarded by the die hard local fishermen. Only those who spend countless hours researching, locating, and often failing to find a place to throw a line truly understand the beauty and importance of that perfect flat. It's a hard life having an addiction to Redfish, only to be forever denied them by a deep tidal creek, and an unfortunate lack of access to a Jon-boat.
This is an ode to those of you who know how it feels to wade for a fish that you probably won't catch. You have seen those sunsets burning like fire and the reflection of the clouds on the eerily still flood-tides; and you've heard the gentle plopping of your casted line on the water. But somehow the sight of a fish tail sticking out of the water eludes you. Through the mosquito bites, the angry fiddler crabs, the blazing sun, and the despair of going home empty handed, you have only just begun the fight for that Redfish.
Most would find the never-ending, often fruitless quests and frequent heartaches a waste of time, but they haven't felt the experience. The pure adrenaline, and the thrill of the chase is indescribable. The prospect of fooling the marsh's most capable predator is the prize, and once you've tasted victory, you have to have more. There is no satisfaction for the wader. If you're fortunate enough to release your trophy back into the tide, the addiction kicks in, and you need the feeling again.
So here's to you — the wader, the stalker of the flood tide. Rest assured that your skill, your pride, and your respect for the lowcountry does not go unnoticed. Your desire to conquer a seemingly unintelligent fish is your most notorious characteristic, but it is much deeper than catching that fish. You fight to preserve the environment, the law, and the reputation of the marsh and to ensure its prosperity. Jon boats be damned, there is nothing that will keep you from walking into your true home, among the crabs, gators, mosquitoes, and heat. You will stop at nothing to feed your addiction, and that is what distinguishes you from the rest. Whether you're walking straight into pluff mud or sneaking up on a hungry Redfish, wade on, brother, wade on.