Even though some of our shallow water species numbers are substantial, larger reds, trout and snook are not available in the shallows the way they were just a few years ago. The days immediately after a weekend may show very few fish that were around Thursday and early Friday. The weekend usually begins at noon Friday and the shallows become inundated with every kind of vessel that floats. A paddle board or kayak will cause minimal disturbance, but anything that runs shallow with a combustion engine is a different matter. How far do most fish move to find a safe haven where they can survive? We are finding good concentrations of these fish at dropoffs or channels adjacent to what used to be productive shallow water flats. Observe your favorite flat at low tide and make photos, mental notes or sketches of depth changes, especially irregularities. A floating fly line used by most fly fishers should be replaced with one that has a 9- to 11-foot clear sinking tip. Attach a 4- to 5-foot leader that is 20-pound test. Select your favorite weighted baitfish pattern. After casting, allow a few seconds for the fly to get close to the bottom before starting a retrieve. Water depth may be 4-6 feet. When one fish is located, continue fishing the same area to take advantage of their schooling nature before probing adjacent water.
Fly fisherman Pat Damico charters lower Tampa Bay and can be reached at captpatdamico.com and (727) 504-8649.