What's hot: Warmer water temperatures are key to finding active fish. Recent river trips featured 70-degree temperatures. While fly-fishing in brackish fresh water, we caught redfish, ladyfish, trout, snook, largemouth bass and a few baby tarpon. Deep water with wood structures harbored the best-quality fish. Outside bends in a river are usually deepest; that was where we concentrated our efforts. Arriving at the end of the outgoing tide allowed us to see trees and wood later covered by the incoming tide. The outgoing tide also flushed baitfish and crustaceans out of small creeks and bays.
Technique: Most fly-fisherman are accustomed to using floating lines and shallow or surface presentations. During winter, this works only when predators are in very shallow water. Full-sinking fly lines matched with an 8-weight fly rod were used on our trips with a 4-foot, 20-pound leader and a 30-pound shock tippet. Weighted synthetic baitfish patterns with a 30-pound Mason monofilament weed guard in sizes 1 and 2 can probe depths and not get hung up. Darker, tannin-stained water required additional flash in our fly patterns. Cast uptide and mend your line to allow a natural presentation, keeping the rod tip down in preparation for a strip strike or the next cast.
Fly-fisherman Pat Damico charters out of St. Pete Beach. Call (727) 504-8649 or visit www.captpat.com.