Most knowledgeable inshore anglers avoid fishing the quarter-moon periods like that now upon us. Weak tidal movement makes for particularly tough fishing, and low water prevents many boats from reaching shoreline structures like oyster bars and mangroves. Usually this is the best time for boat maintenance or tackle repairs.
This week, however, should be the exception. Most of the Suncoast will be dealing with late-evening low tides. As water recedes, it forces boats to deeper water, and redfish can move about the shallows without harassment. This is the time for late-afternoon wading excursions after tailing fish.
Even with shallow grass flats' water temperatures near 95, reds poke about at low tides after small crabs and shrimp. As they tip down to feed, their tails pierce the surface and give their position away. Wading is the only effective method to get close enough for a cast.
Fly-rodders have a distinct advantage in this arena. When an angler uses floating lines, long leaders and a foot of 20 mono shock tippet, the long rod makes silent presentations necessary for success. Casting accuracy is a must, as reds eat only what is directly in front of their noses. Small shrimp, roach or crab imitation flies tied with bend-back hooks usually avoid sea grass snags. Three-inch Berkley Power Teasers are particularly effective on low water reds because of impregnated scent in the soft fly body.
Better areas include the flats alongside the Sunshine Skyway bridge causeway, the flats north and south of the road to Fred Howard Park in Tarpon Springs, east of East Beach at Fort De
Soto Park and the large flat just behind Honeymoon Island. All are reachable without a boat as well.
This fishing opportunity is not limited to those who fling flies, but soft-lure presentations are absolutely required. Plastic jerk baits in the 6-inch range rigged Texas style with offset worm hooks work well. Success requires that anglers make long, accurate casts with light lines and keep lure jerks to a minimum. When the take comes, hesitate a few seconds before setting your hook, as reds often mouth jerk baits before swallowing them. Nothing much beats a big bull red thrashing about in less than a foot of water against a fading sunset.
_ Dave Markett charters the Stalker out of Tampa.