Low winter tides can make for fly fishing fun or frustration. When you see a tail break the surface in the lowest water, what is it? Iíve had inexperienced anglers chase mullet, thinking they were reds. Spooking a school of mullet with a poor cast, sloppy wading, electric motors or shadows from the sun will scare every mullet and their predator companions, trout and redfish. Lately, sheepshead have been frequent residents of skinny water. Their tails, like redfish, show as they probe the soft bottom, changing from a horizontal to more vertical position. Approach tailing sheepshead cautiously. Determine its direction before making an accurate cast. Using at least a 9-foot, 12-pound tippet tapered leader, carefully place the fly close to the fishís nose. Cast when the tail is showing. Your favorite small-crab pattern in dark colors will work and must have the hook pointed up with a weed guard. Bead-chain eyes are better than lead so the fly lands softly. Remove slack from your line and move the crab an inch at a time.
Fly fisherman Pat Damico runs charters in lower Tampa Bay and can be reached at captpat.com and (727) 504-8649.