Featured Guide: Charleston Fly Fishing Expeditions
By James Hamilton | Thursday, August 20
Captain Henry and Fritz the pooch are Legends of the Lowcountry.
Photos for this post have been generously provided by and are property of Doug Roland of Lowcountry Journal, Frankie Marion of C1 Films, Harry Tomlinson, and James Hamilton.
Catching Redfish on a fly rod is often described as equal parts hobby and addiction. Captain Henry Tomlinson is an addict who always seems to find his next dose. The marshy inshore waterways surrounding Charleston, SC are seemingly endless, but Harry, as his friends know him, navigates them with ease. Knowledge of where these elusive fish will be, when they will be there, and what they want to eat does not come over night. This knowledge is earned from countless days spent on the water, oftentimes with friends or clients, but always accompanied by first mate, Fritz, the yellow lab. For the past few years, Harry and Fritz have made exploring these waters on a 17’ Maverick skiff by motor and pole their business. Harry loves being able to share his passion with clients.
Growing up in Columbia, SC Harry learned to fly fish on trout streams and bass ponds. His love affair with catching Redfish on the fly began in 2008 when he arrived in Charleston for his freshman year of college. Honing his skills and knowledge of the water over the next four years with the help of some key mentors was equally as educational an experience as Harry pursued in the classroom. That’s not to say that he is not an academic; Harry spends the majority of his time studying for his MD at the Medical University of South Carolina.
Harry is a long time friend, and I have had the pleasure of fishing with him and Fritz a number of times, most recently with our buddy Dylan Schmitz from Badfish. The other day we took some time to catch up and do a quick Q&A.
JH: How did Charleston Fly Fishing Expeditions come to be? How did you get into fly fishing, and what made you want to share your love for the water and fly fishing with clients?
HT: I was fortunate to have an incredible teacher and mentor, Baker Bishop, who really taught me to fish. We still fish together often, in the keys and in charleston. And I learn something new from him every time we're together. I never planned on becoming a guide. I just reached a point where I was fishing so much that the only way it could continue was if I found a way to make money doing it. At a certain point I started telling friends that I had to "work" when the tides were right to fish, even though I was just going out with Fritz [Laughs]. After that I started taking friends and realized I enjoyed teaching others more than catching the fish myself, and from there it just kind of snowballed unexpectedly.
JH: [Laughs]That’s hilarious... sometimes you just gotta fake it til you make it.
HT: That’s right!
JH: You've got a pretty handsome first mate. Was Fritz usually along for the ride in the early days too?
HT: Always man. He never let me leave him at home and I always hated leaving him when it was too hot or when I'd be on the water for too long. He was there for the very first trip out on the Maverick… think he was probably 3 months old.
JH: That’s awesome, first mate since day one. Charleston is a hotbed for targeting redfish in the flats, what are your other favorite species to target in the area and beyond?
HT: My favorite in charleston is definitely summer time sharks on the flats. Bonnetheads black tips spinner sharks, we even see 8-10 foot lemon sharks on the flats every once in a while, but my number one is definitely tarpon. Ocean side in the keys and laid up in the Everglades. Two very different styles but hands down my favorite thing on planet earth.
JH: Tell us a little bit about guide etiquette. What should clients expect when hiring a guide, and what should they expect to tip their captain on a job well done?
HT: Be sure to practice and sharpen your skills before the charter. Listen to your guide, ask questions, and try to learn as much as possible. You aren't paying to catch fish, you are paying to learn and become a better angler so take advantage of that. Tips vary tremendously but it's pretty similar to a nice meal - 15-25%.
JH: Awesome that should be super helpful for a lot of people just getting into the sport
And to wrap things up: What's the funniest thing to happen with a client on a charter?
HT: Well I had a client get hit in the back of the head by an airborne mullet the other day.
JH: No way, Flying Mullet... sounds like an 80s hair band.
HT: [Laughs] So true.
Not only has Harry become a staple in the Charleston fly fishing community, but he could arguably be called the poster boy of local apparel brand, Flood Tide Co(where you can find more of Doug Roland's photography). If this kind of beautiful scenery and high intensity sight casting strikes your fancy. Check out his GuideHire profile and book a trip. Harry and Fritz are waiting to hear from you.
Find more of Frankie Marion's photography here at C1Films.