Did you ever notice how you seem to find certain fish when you are not really looking for them? For example, the elusive slot size snook is always a tough find. That is unless you are on the lookout for schooling redfish, and then it is uncanny how all of a sudden you seem to notice the right size snook popping up all over the place. Go figure! Even when looking for redfish in general, there are several schools of thought on whether fishing schools are even the most effective way to go. But we’ll leave that subject for another day, as I am just thinking about how much fun it is to even see and then get a shot at a good size school of more than 100 reds. After all, fishing is supposed to be fun right?

When looking for larger schools of fish, plan to put in lots of time just plain searching or hunting. If you ever happen to see a couple of anglers standing on the bow of a boat running the trolling motor just cruising around, there is a good chance they are on the hunt. For the most part, these larger size schools are going to be located out on a flat that can consist of either a bar structure, thick sea grass, or a combination of the two. Additionally, these fish will move with the tide. For example, when the falling tide drains the flat, they will fall back off the flat into areas of deeper water. Conversely, when the tide begins pushing back onto the flat, the fish will move with the water in order to feed on the bottom that has been unreachable for the last couple of hours. For this reason, the incoming is my favorite tide to fish this particular fishery, but redfish will eat on the falling tide as well. All that is really important is that the tide is moving one-way or the other.

On the shallow tidal flats of Charlotte Harbor and the surrounding area the redfish are very aware of their surroundings. In other words, unless we are very quiet, the fish are aware of our presence. Just try to keep up with a school with the trolling motor running and you will see what I mean. The most important thing that we can do besides being stealthy is to try to the best of our ability to determine where the fish are heading and get ahead of them in order to get in a couple good shots. We basically want to be sitting where the fish are going. Sometimes you get it right and sometimes they are just plain out of casting distance.

One of the first patterns that we want to establish is whether the tide is going or coming and without a piling or other structure to help us with this determination, it can be somewhat difficult to see the tide moving. That is, unless we use the available sea grass to help us read just what direction and how hard the tide is moving. And is important to keep in mind that no matter how quick we determine for example that the tide has switched and it is beginning to come in, the fish were aware of this natural occurrence way before we were. At first, after a tide change, the bend in the blades of grass will be subtle, but on a strong tide, after the water gets flowing, the grass can be bent completely over sideways. It is when you see the subtle change of the switch that you need to start concentrating the opposite direction. For example, the other day we were working the outside edges of a flat on the last of the outgoing, but as soon as we noticed the slack period in which the grass stopped laying over pushing out, we new it was time to work our way back inside to where we knew the fish would head. What’s more, even with this sort of quick thinking, there were still fish that slipped around and got behind us.

All things considered, the various bays and sounds that make up our fishery do include differences in bottom cover, but generally there is usually some type of sea grass somewhere close. Even if you just want to know if there is going to be enough water to float your boat as you move up a flat, it is always a good idea to know whether the tide is coming in or going out. Moreover, there has been more than one occasion in which the tide station information on my GPS has told me for example that the tide should be coming in but the sea grass told me otherwise. So, to help you better work your way around a shallow tidal flat and stay ahead of moving fish, use the documented tide information as a general guideline, but let the bottom cover give you the real story.

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.

You have Successfully Subscribed!