Change is in the air. We’re approaching a winter pattern around the harbor as sporadic northern fronts combine with seasonally low tides. As well as contributing to cooler temperatures, these winds also push water out of the harbor escalating these tides. Typically, I’ll turn my attention to redfish and spotted sea trout. Both species tolerate cold well.

As we get away from summer rain, our water clears up, cools down, and salinity increases.  Consequently, I’ll start pushing into the backcountry and getting up into some of our many creek systems. As the oxygen and salinity increases, fish will begin moving in as well. As the water cools, a favorite prey species, scaled sardines, move offshore looking for more stable water temperatures. This forces the reds and trout to rely on shrimp and small crustaceans that these creeks provide as well as a refuge from erratic conditions.

Therefore, I’ll begin throwing smaller clouser type patterns. I like the way it emulates the motion of a jig and gets down in the water column where small crustaceans hide. Unlike some patterns, it doesn’t stop moving during the retrieve when the angler is not stripping. A sinking bait is a good representation of fleeing prey.

I like creeks that hold deeper edges off points and bends. Fortunately, there are plenty of options. Out of Punta Gorda, the east side south of Ponce Park all the way to Matlacha has more real estate than most of us have time to explore.  At the top of the harbor, Hog Island and the Myakka Cutoff provide another expanse of mangrove creeks. Lastly, the west wall incorporates enough of these areas to keep anyone busy all winter.

When the wind lays down, pompano provide a change of pace. I like looking outside the bar along the southern end of the west wall and off the hard bottom outside Cape Haze Point. Here, a clouser is perfect and a ¼ ounce Nylure jig is the artificial of choice on a spinning rod. It’s not unusual to find them jumping your boat wake while running outside the bar along the wall.

Sheepshead is a good bet. In fact, from shore, it offers one of the best opportunities all year. Docks, piers, and seawalls are all good. The Placida Trestle is very popular. The bait of choice is cut shrimp and fiddler crabs.

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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