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Chandler Williams: Reel Salty

These days, Chandler Williams (@chandler_williams_fishing on Instagram) splits his time between South Carolina and Key West. But the Columbia, South Carolina native has fished all over the Western Hemisphere. It took a lot of grit and gumption for him to get there, though.

“I think I went fishing for the first time when I was three,” he says. “My dad took me fishing, got me a fishing rod for my third birthday and took me bream fishing. I caught one. But when I didn’t get one on the second go-round, I threw my rod in the water.  We had to fish the rod out.”

Clearly, Chandler  was serious about fishing from the very beginning.

“Yeah, I fish more than 250 days a year, now.”

But it took a lot of determination for him to get to where he is today.

“When I was ten or eleven, I was helping a neighbor mulch his yard,” Chandler says. “And he wanted to pay me. And I told him that I wanted to get a fly rod. So, I got a fly rod from Wal Mart and taught myself how to fly cast.”

At that time, he was still fishing freshwater.

“Around the time I was fourteen, though, I was down at Edisto Beach,” Chandler says. “I went on the docks and walked onto this sports fisher and begged the guy to take me fishing or let me do a ride-along with him the next day. He said, ‘Yeah.’”

But Chandler didn’t have a way to get to the dock that early the next morning.

“So, I packed a bag for the next day, and went back to the dock,” he says. “And I slept on the dock. The captain kicked me in the foot at 5 a.m. the next day to wake me up and tell me it was time to go.”

After he graduated high school, Chandler got a job offer at a fly fishing lodge in Montana.

“I went out there and paid my dues,” he says. “It didn’t work out. But I was eager to get back into it. That was when I got a job guiding in Argentina. It was my first international guiding job.”

While in Patagonia, he was guiding for sea-run brown trout.

“After that, I went to Bolivia and did exploratory fishing for golden dorados,” Chandler says. “For four months, I lived with indigenous Amazon people, in a tent, going up and down in dugout canoes.”

Apart from the guiding he does in South Carolina and Key West, Chandler’s next plan is guiding in the Seychelles.

“I’ll be working as a head guide for Blue Safari,” he says. “We’ll be doing blue water and guiding fly fishing on the flats.”

For him, a little fly fishing and a blue water fishing is the perfect combination.

“Blue marlin are my favorite offshore target species,” he says. “But I love bonefish on the flats.”

Does he prefer offshore or flats fishing?

“It would be hard to make a choice,” Chandler says. “I love it all! I can’t separate the two. I’m addicted to both.”

Check out the second part of our interview with Chandler Williams for some tips and advice about getting into the guiding business – Coming soon. 

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