What's hot: To fly or light tackle redfish. Winter low tides are the ideal time to grab the fly rod. These tides offer great chances for anglers of all abilities. Beginners have a shot in deeper canals, working dock pilings and other structure. More advanced anglers will want to fish the skinny water on the flats on the negative tides. The warmer weather will have them hungry after our last long cold spell.
Tactics: If you're new to this, try the canals. Sinking fly lines will get you where the action is. Small streamers or crab imitation patterns should work. Make sure the offering is near the bottom around any structure. Spincasters might try a dark jig or sinking hardbait. A bow-mount trolling motor helps to position you in deeper water. On shallow flats, stealth is the key. Trolling motors only get in the way; they are too noisy and snag lines. Use the push pole from the boat or wade. Floating lines are a must because you'll be working depths of less than a foot. Unweighted flies allow for a quiet presentation — any noise and the target is gone. Spinfishers might try a plastic jerkbait rigged weedless over grassy bottoms and a jig over sand.
Tip: The last couple of hours of the falling tide and the first two of incoming are prime times for feeding fish. Keep a sharp eye out for redfish tails as they grub the bottom for crabs and shrimp.
Paul Hawkins runs FlatsGuy charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 560-6762.