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Fly-Fishing the South Atlantic Coast

Where to find game fish from North Carolina's outer banks to the Florida Keys.

October 3, 2001
flyfishing_the_atlantic_bg

flyfishing_the_atlantic_bg

Jimmy Jacobs

Review by Steve Raymond

Backcountry Guides
PO Box 748
Woodstock, VT 05091;
softcover, $18.95

If you’ve noticed some of your favorite Southeast Atlantic coast fishing spots getting crowded, it might be due to the sudden surfeit of fishing guidebooks covering the area. This new one covers even more territory than most, with extensive directions to shore and small-boat fishing locations in North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

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It’s also the first book-length venture into salt water for Jimmy Jacobs, author of three earlier guides to Southeast trout fishing. Apparently the transition wasn’t an easy one: Jacobs dwells often on what he perceives to be the obstacles and difficulties of saltwater fly fishing, almost as if he weren’t convinced it can be a successful method. Of course there’s nothing wrong with sounding a cautionary note — a good guidebook should give you the bad news along with the good — but you’ll come away from this one with the feeling that Jacobs might be more comfortable fishing the salt with conventional tackle.

But having said that (we also give you the bad news along with the good), we should add that there is much in this book that is useful and positive. It opens with three introductory chapters covering the characteristics of different types of water (piers and docks, tidal creeks, shell bars, inlets, etc.), the fish species most often encountered by saltwater fly rodders along the Southeast coast, and a rundown on tackle, flies and safety measures. Then come four sections with several chapters each describing the fishing in each of the states previously mentioned.

Each section opens with a general description of the state’s coastal waters, an ”angling calendar,” a list of state-record fish, and a brief synopsis of local regulations. Then Jacobs divides the state’s coastline into geographic areas, proceeding from north to south, and deals with each area in a separate chapter (North Carolina merits four chapters, South Carolina and Georgia three each, Florida six). Each chapter includes a series of references to relevant DeLorme Atlases and NOAA charts for the area.

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The text describes the fish species available in each area, seasons, fishing locations and access, often down to a very fine level of detail. Consider this example for the waters of South Carolina’s Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge:

”The closest public access point is at the McClellanville Landing. Located in the sleepy fishing village of McClellanville, the facility is at the end of Pinckney Street, 1.5 miles east of U.S. 17. The two-lane, paved ramp is a bit rough, while the unpaved lot provides plenty of room for parking. The landing is immediately behind the Village Museum.”

See what we mean about detail? It’s the same for the whole coastline, from the Virginia-North Carolina border all the way to the Florida Keys. Credit Jacobs with an enormous feat of research to gather all this information. Credit him also for presenting it in a clear, straightforward manner.

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The only problem is Jacobs’ somewhat negative attitude toward fly fishing. If you discount that, what you have is an extremely comprehensive guide to the Southeast coast.

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