The American lotus were just beginning to bloom on the still waters of the Lake Moultrie cove. In the early morning light, it was a vision out of a Monet painting.
A small group of kayakers gingerly paddled through the field of aquatic plants, savoring the ethereal scene and cool, crisp air of the spring day-until they spotted movement in the water around them.
It was time to go fishing.
Part of a Blueway Adventures guided kayak fishing tour, the four paddlers had everything they needed on their boats to land one of Lake Moultrie's famed largemouth bass, stripers or catfish. Their camouflage sit-on-tops were outfitted with spinning and casing rods, a box full of lures, live bait, miscellaneous tackle and an anchor trolley with a stake-out pole to keep from drifting.
As they spread out in the lily field, lures began to drop in every direction. It wasn't long before one of the anglers had her first hit.
Over the next several hours, Blueway Adventures owner and kayak guide Ed Deal led the group to some of his favorite-and most productive-fishing spots. After 24 years plying the waters of the Santee Cooper lakes, the experienced paddler has a pretty good sense of where the fish are biting.
Many of his preferred destinations are in areas inaccessible to motor boats. He looks for good ambush spots under lily pads, in shallow stump fields and among stands of tupelo and bald cypress trees. The three different types of rods his boats carry allow his clients to target a wide range of fish in a variety of environments.
Hard lures and plastic worms are used to catch bass; live worms and crickets are reserved for crappie and bream.
Paddling the coves and backwaters of the lake also affords fishermen the opportunity to see some of the local wildlife, including ospreys, anhingas, great blue herons and bald eagles. Without the rumbling of a motor, they can glide in closer to the birds-and fish-virtually unnoticed.
A growing number of anglers are taking to the self-propelled fishing platform, lured by the tranquillity a kayak offers and its capacity to get into narrow passages and shallow waters where other boaters can't go.
In South Carolina, you'll find kayak fishing outfitters offering trips along the coast and in lakes and rivers all over the state.
Below are a few of the guide services and where they fish: