July 5, 2021

East V West

Fly Fishing

Rocky Mountain trout guide finds kindred spirit aboard South Carolina redfish skiff.

Story and photos by Dan Towsley.

Fishing small mountain streams with light fly rods and tiny flies equates to gentle presentations

and trout that you can handle on the line and not the reel. But when I think of fly-fishing

saltwater, I think of clear blue skies, salty water and big East Coast bull redfish tugging on my

line. Having guided the Mountain West states for more than eight years, I was ready to make a

pilgrimage to South Carolina.

I arrived in Charleston with minimal knowledge of the in-shore fishery. I knew I needed a guide

to show me the ropes of this alien landscape. I boarded Rob Williams skiff. Ron agreed that we

hit it off immediately. Kindred spirits.

“Dan’s whole vibe was all about absorbing, learning everything I said and did,” said Rob, who

owns Citadel Marine Services. “He had tons of questions and took the time to listen. It was

super cool.”

I had reached out to Rob on Instagram months before. He apparently did some research on me

as well. He knew I was a photographer and a fly-fishing guide out West. He knew that I knew

nothing about redfish on fly.

The gear we used was a much heavier setup than I use in Wyoming. He had an 8-weight rod

paired with an 8-weight reel with floating line. He also had a 7/8-weight fiberglass rod that I could

not wait to put my hands on.

As the boat came down from on plane to the first spot, I knew what to look for from our chat on

the way. I had an idea where to place my fly and how to retrieve it. On my first cast, I hooked up

with a massive red.

“It could not be this easy,” I said in my head.

I could tell by Rob’s reaction that this was special. He was in awe of seeing the fish on the line. I

got it to the boat, we took some quick photos, a few high-fives and released the fish back into

the shallows. We secured the deck, and jumped back up on plane.

The next spot would be different. We’d be sight-fishing over oyster beds. It was a much more

technical approach. He told me to grab the glass rod and have a little fun. With winds ripping

from the side, I was able to let my line go 3 feet to the left to compensate for wind. I dropped the

fly into a 2-foot-wide channel to the feeding reds.


After the strip-set, the fun began. The fish fought in zig-zags, bending the rod like few Western

trout could. It was another chucky bronze red. A photo, a high-five, a release and on to the next


The day was one for the books. I learned more in those four hours than I ever thought


Rob said he’s planning on taking me up on my offer and heading West to try Wyoming trout


“I’ve thought about the trip a few times since,” said Rob on a phone call with The Guidefitter

Journal. “I’ve fished with guides before, and it puts extra pressure…no, that’s not it. It puts extra

hope in the trip. Having another pro with you, I always am hoping hard that it all goes the way

your planned it in your head. At the same time it’s extra exciting, because I am thrilled to show

someone who knows West so well, to show them our redfishing, which is a whole different


Originally posted in Summer 2021 Guidefitter Journal.