As we enter the height or what could be considered this winter’s midlife, the conditions or elements we face won’t differ all that much from last month. That being wind and low tides. I will try to put an emphasis on fishing the incoming tide. More importantly, I’d prefer to be setting up to cast at the beginning of the incoming and the fresher the tide the better.

Because they’re tolerant to cold conditions, I’ll concentrate on redfish. In many cases, there’s a good chance they’ll be on the small side, rat sized redfish. This is due in part because I’ll most likely find myself as far back in creek systems as I can get looking for dead end coves covered with a sand bottom. After a couple cool months, this is a natural transition area for our game fish, as they’ll move up into these areas to warm up on the shallow sandy bottom.

Multiple months of cool weather is also why I also like the early incoming tide. Bait has been scarce for long enough that redfish will begin looking with some urgency. They feel the tide instantly and begin working up the creek or flat rushing to get a shot at what was unobtainable on low water. The low tide has left the mixed sand and grass dry. Crabs and other crustaceans come out of hiding to feed. The fish know their chances are best early before the prey has a chance to vanish.

I’ll downsize my baits and go with crab and clouser patterns. The Placida ramp at Boca Grande and Ponce Park ramp in Punta Gorda provide good access to backcountry creek systems. From Placida, Bull Bay between Gasparilla Sound and Turtle Bay has lots of room to explore. From Ponce Park, south along the east side from Alligator Creek to Pirate Harbor is full of small creek systems.

Out on the grass flats, spotted sea trout should fish well. Look anywhere from two to four feet off the intracoastal from Lemon Bay to Pine Island Sound. They’ll eat a fly as well as any soft plastic and of course, live shrimp rigged with a popping cork.

In the harbor, pompano can be found on the hard bottom just off Cape Haze Point. A ¼ ounce Nylure Bomber pompano jig is all you need. Sheepshead are everywhere and can be fished from land as well as by boat. The Placida trestle can be fished from both land and boat and the Boca Grande trestle is a popular spot by boat. Every dock, pier, underwater structure, and artificial reef will hold sheepshead. A fiddler crab or piece of shrimp is your best bet.

Spring is coming to the Golden Isles

With the advent of Spring, our waters begin warming.  68 to 70 degrees is the magic temperature.  The big winter schools of reds begin to break up and we are able to find them in more places.  Trout come up from the depths and gather around oyster beds and grass.  In May we expect the first "tailing" tides of the year where the reds get into the grass and tail aggressively grubbing for fiddler crabs.  Tailing redfish in the grass is classic, southern fly fishing for redfish.

In St. Simons we have an interesting fishery chasing free floating triple tail just 1-3 miles off of the beaches.  This is an unusual behavior because they are not floating close to structure.  They are simply free floating.  We look for these fish by idling around just off the beaches.  When I see one, I motor close to it and try put you in a good position for a cast.  The flies are generally lightly weighted or unweighted flies that mimic small shrimp or bait fish.  If you make a good presentation a little beyond and in front of the fish, you may come tight with a triple tail up to 20 pounds.  Triple tail are a hard fighting fish that jumps and runs.  I have said many times, if you can imagine how hard a 10 pound blue gill would pull, that is how hard a Triple Tail pulls.  This pattern runs from late March until June or July.  

At this time of year, I like to combine a red fish and Triple tail trip.  As in all sight fishing, a clear day with light wind makes for the fishing.  So, click the link below to inquire on booking a trip for a species I would bet you have never caught on fly.

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