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Fishing and Shelling in the North Edisto Inlet

Originally published in the Charleston Mercury in the summer of 2007.

If one is looking for adventures on the shores and sounds of the North Edisto Inlet, then perhaps the double-bill of Captain Rumph and Captain Rumph is the correct combination. Captain Brad Rumph handles the fishing while Captain Sally Rumph heads up the shelling, and Bohicket Marina is their gateway to serve the readers of these salmon sheets that reside and vacation at Kiawah and Seabrook.

The Rumph’s home overlooks the water in historic Rockville and they give back to their community in various ways, with Capt. Brad serving on the Board of the Sea Island Yacht Club. Visit the Internet at to learn about all the outdoor options that the Rumph team can supply.

The Rumphs operate under the name of Sonny Boy Charters, which hints at the local dialect that is a part of the sea islands nearby like Wadmalaw, Edisto and John’s Islands. Captain Brad Rumph is a John’s Island native and has fished out of Bohicket Marina for years, and he brings his personal knowledge to the Sonny Boy operation, as well as the knowledge that he has accrued under Bohicket’s legends such as Captain Harry and Sidi Limehouse.

A Sonny Boy might say that the early bird gets the worm, and that is exactly what Captain Brad promotes for fishing during the heat of summer. An early departure from the docks gives anglers a greater chance to catch fish before the sun rises. Before the sun rises? Rumph said, “Lots of vacationers don’t want to get up early while on vacation, but I try to get them fired up via telephone and tell them that the topwater bite will make you a changed man.”

Captain Brad loves to cast and retrieve topwater lures like the Rapala Skitterwalk in the trout pattern or the Bomber Lures Badonk-A-Donk topwater plug. Rumph said, “About 80-percent of my clients are believers after they catch a few topwater fish, and while they still like catching fish using live bait, the thrill of the topwater strike is best.” Live bait is often employed after the sun begins to shine down on the water’s surface, which greatly reduces the topwater bite.

Conservation is a key for Sonny Boy, and Rumph adds that when people are on vacation, the last thing they want to do is clean fish, so it’s often a moot point that catch and release is common practice. Rumph employs a Frabill rubber landing net to further ensure that the slime on the spotted seatrout, spot-tailed bass and flounder is not removed. All three of these species, also known as an inshore slam, can be caught on topwater lures.

Fishing out of Bohicket Creek and in the Dawhoo area, Captain Brad put your correspondent next to a bass flats ecosystem that consisted of green marsh, oyster mounds, shell points, shallow waters, live baits and wading birds. The first two casts resulted in topwater strikes that resulted in two spotted seatrout landed and released. Many noteworthy fish were encountered, including a five-pound gator trout and a 30-inch redfish that weighed 11-pounds. If Sonny Boy directs you to rise early to "catch dat fush," anglers might want to listen up!

Shoreline Shelling

Captain Sally Rumph specializes is shelling the shoreline associated with the North Edisto River Inlet. The tip of Seabrook that is home to the Lowcountry’s beloved Camp St. Christopher and combined with Deveaux Bank and Botany Island and offer many pristine beaches for wind and waves to wash shells and more onto the coastline. Walking with Captain Sally is informative for anyone, and she brings years of experience and an education in marine biology to the beach.

After studying at the College of Charleston, Captain Sally became an interpretive naturalist for Kiawah Island and worked exclusively with Kiawah’s residents and visitors. Today, Sonny Boy Charter’s invites those same folks to take a boat ride with her to explore nearby areas that are less visited because they may not be accessible by land. A visit to the shore of Botany Island served as Sally’s classroom for this visit.

Shells littered the beach in the tideline area and two horseshoe crabs were mating in the surf zone. Captain Sally spotted a turtle crawl and said, “Summer brings loggerhead turtles to our beaches and the first nest documented this year here on Botany Island was May 20. They continue their nesting cycle through August and each nest takes 60 days to produce hatchlings, so these beaches will be alive with turtle activity into the fall.”

Captain Sally will not allow the collection of any live shells and can tell you about what used to live in any broken and derelict shells. Coming across a whelk shell and a whelk egg sack, she broke open one of the compartments of the egg sack to reveal many tiny baby whelks inside. From the edible sea lettuce, to the red sponges and the yellow soft corals — each specimen tells a story about life in the ocean.

Jeff Dennis is a Charleston native and may be reached at

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