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.
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.
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.