Anything Fly Fishing

On the Water with Blackwater Revival Guide Service: Fly-Fishing for Redfish, Flounder & Ladyfish in Georgetown

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Not all fly fishing guides or guide services are the same. The differences can be large or small. Each guide has their own style of fishing, choice of fly, rod and reel brand, skiff brand, the list goes on and on. Some guides, like Capt. Johnny Mainero and Bobby Altman of Blackwater Revival, are unique in their own right! And who doesn’t love a dynamic duo? Whether it’s Woody and Buzz, Batman and Robin, Chewie and Han Solo, or even the Hopper-Dropper, two is always better than one! I had the pleasure of spending a day on the water with these two guys.

Capt. Johnny and Bobby’s team seems like the start of a good joke: “So a Yankee from New Jersey and a country boy from Conway walk into a bar…” From the jokes and laughs, to competition and jawing, this unlikely pair of hardcore fishermen know how to have a good time! If you book a day on the water with Blackwater Revival out of Georgetown South Carolina, you won’t regret it!

Captain Johnny Mainero

Capt. Johnny was born in Long Branch, New Jersey. Across the street from his hospital room was a shoreline that would later become the striper grounds of his youth. Growing up on the water was a focal point for Johnny. His family had a boat, and they stayed out all summer, involving water extracurriculars like surfing or fishing. Eventually he found his first love, striped bass in the surf. Johnny spent countless days and nights chasing these fish. No time for partying in high school, it was waves or fish.

Fast forward to after high school, Johnny moved to South Carolina at 18 and never left. While living in Conway, he attended Coastal Carolina but later moved to Georgetown, on the banks of the Black River. There Johnny worked as the fishing manager at Orvis in The Market Common. This is where he began to cut his teeth in fly fishing along the Grand Strand. He quickly found out retail was not for him, so he started pursuing his captain’s license. He moved away from the coast for a few years and sat idle chasing other careers. But an epiphany came over him, and he knew if he didn’t make a move back to the Lowcountry, his dreams of guiding would slip away before they even started. So, after a lot of work and emotional stress Johnny and his family came back! This prompted an upgrade to his skiff and, with the help of his close friend Bobby Altman, he brought Blackwater to life!

Bobby Altman

Bobby is a born and raised Lowcountry boy, from Conway, South Carolina. His soul is steeped in pluff mud and hickory-smoked pork. He is a freelance photographer and videographer in the Myrtle Beach area, with his wife, two daughters, and two dogs. As a photographer, his passion is to provide brands with sun-soaked images of real folks living their best outdoor lives!

This passion is one of deep authenticity. Bobby grew up in the country, so hunting, fishing and a life spent outdoors was just a way of life. Fly fishing however would not come until later, about 11 years ago to be exact. Photography started during his youth. Bobby began taking pictures of his friends skateboarding. Then, as his passion for hunting and fishing grew into adulthood, he began toting his camera out into the field with him. He was working at a tattoo shop in the Myrtle Beach area and decided to dive headfirst into the wild world of outdoor photography. So, he made a switch and started working for an ad agency.

Photo shoots for his passion of fly fishing and hunting started around 8 years ago when he left the ad agency to go out on his own. While working with the Orvis Company on a photoshoot, Bobby met Johnny at an Orvis Store. Johnny was working as the fishing manager, and so naturally the two started fishing together and became close friends. After a few years, the two decided to join forces and Blackwater Revival was born!

For these two, Georgetown was special from the first time they pushed off the dock. After all, Georgetown is the start of the true Lowcountry. There are plenty of wild places along this coastal region, where time seemingly has stopped for generations. The protected and preserved natural state of the coastline aids in one’s connection back to their primal roots. Winyah Bay is like something out of a pirate novel, a place of both dreams and nightmares. One cannot help but be captivated every time you venture out into these salty, muddy waters.

With their guide service entering its third season, these two are right at home on a polling tower; the lens of which to watch it all unfold, placed just 17’ behind the angler on the front. In this area of the Lowcountry, redfish is the prized game fish. But on our trip out we did not discriminate. We pursued flounder, speckled trout and even a few ladyfish. A fly angler in this area needs to be well rounded. Blackwater Revival emphasizes the importance of chasing fish with different methods and to see how fish react to different flies and presentations.

We poled around a creek as the tide was falling. Redfish and ladyfish were pushing bait around the exposed oyster beds revealed by the low tide. The water was stained and the tide was beginning to rise. I made a cast out in front of the skiff towards the creek mouth. A wake from a redfish was pushing along the left side of the creek. As it got closer, I began to strip in my fly. The wake dispersed, and I made a few more strips before I was going to recast. Bump, Bump and then my fly stopped. “Dammit, an oyster bed” I thought. As I began to strip in my fly line, what I thought was a cluster of creek oysters began to swim away with force. As I retrieved more of my fly line a dark brown shadow materialized through the muddy water. A flounder, the size of a tailgate platter had engulfed my crustacean fly! Johnny and Bobby began praising the catch, and one of them scooped up the fish in a net. I grabbed the fish by its spatula size tail and supported its saucer sized body with my other hand. It was one of the biggest flounder I have ever caught!

We admired the fish, and Bobby took a few shots of it before I revived and released it back into that beautiful muddy-black water! We ran around a few more creeks and followed the tides in search of cruising fish, but as the sun started to set, we made our way back to the ramp. Once we pulled the boat out, we hung around the trailered skiff, had a few drinks, and cracked a few jokes. Our conversations swayed like the Spanish moss in those old oak trees, and I realized why I loved being out on the water fishing. It has very little to do with the catch, but rather the comradery. I love this sport, but it’s because of the people I get to enjoy it with. They are the reason I look forward to my next fishing trip. Johnny and Bobby of Blackwater Revival are top tier: they do what they love, and they love what they do! It’s infectious! So, if you are in need of some saltwater R-and-R, these are the guys you want to book a trip with.

For more information about Blackwater Revival, check them out on Instagram @fishblackwater or online at

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