Sunday, April 22, 2018
Outdoors

Captain's Corner: Go for the 'tail'

What's hot: We are enjoying some very low morning tides combined with mild wind, which offer sight-fishing opportunities for fish that "tail." Careful and stealthy observation will reveal changes in the water's surface — sometimes referred to as nervous water — that signal the presence of fish. A tail breaking the surface means a fish is using its nose and mouth to uncover a crustacean, shrimp or crab. The fish's body is now more vertical. Inexperienced fishermen have followed mullet and even wing tips of rays, mistaking them for redfish.

Tip: At this time of year, sheepshead occupy the same shallow water flats enjoyed by redfish for the same reason: plentiful food. It is more difficult to differentiate the two, so why not pursue the proverbial bait-stealing sheepshead, a great fighter and fine table fare? Close observation shows the difference in tails, but sheepshead can be more difficult to fool with a fly rod. If your tailer refuses your regular redfish presentations of crab and shrimp-type flies, reduce the size, remembering that tiny sand fleas or sand crabs are favorite sheepshead delicacies. Also, lengthen and reduce the tippet section of your leader to 10-pound test. A strong hook must be used because sheepshead bend the point down with their crushers, making a hook set impossible. Keep your rod tip on the water and eliminate slack to detect soft takes. Move the fly very slowly. A small pair of binoculars will extend your vision and allow you to cover more water before heading off to chase the wrong fish.

Fly fisherman Pat Damico runs charters in lower Tampa Bay and can be reached at captpat.com and (727) 504-8649.

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