Tactics: Accompanying the lower air and water temperatures, northerly winds and recent tides have reduced available water to fish. Instead of putting your tackle away, take advantage of the opportunities to target popular and prolific redfish. Use your vehicle instead of a boat and visit and scan large exposed flats adjacent to shore that will soon flood with an incoming tide, allowing fish easy access. At low tide, cuts, potholes and small channels are revealed, key spots to find fish. Wading birds that are concentrated in a small area are feeding on the same crustaceans, shrimp and baitfish that reds love, identifying a place to start fishing. A small pair of binoculars should be used to extend your vision. Search for mullet schools stirring up a redfish smorgasbord, tailing fish and nervous water showing where fish are moving.
Tackle: Spinning tackle with 10-pound braid and 15-pound fluorocarbon leaders allows long casts with Texas-rigged scented plastic shrimp. This is the best time to use a 7- or 8-weight fly rod with small size 4 crab patterns. Use bead chain eyes, allowing a softer presentation that will not spook shallow water fish.
Tip: Watch flying pelicans and other birds as they skim close to the water surface. They will spook fish, revealing where you should be fishing. Baitfish are scarce, but diving birds will show where bait will be close to the flats edge and hungry predators will be close by.
Pat Damico charters Fly Guy in lower Tampa Bay and can be reached a captpat.com or (727) 504-8649