When it comes to fly fishing, the general population of folks think about mountain streams and willow branches and the sound water cascading through a picturesque mountain landscape, but down on the Crystal Coast, we think about one thing; Redfish. There’s no subtle sips of a dry fly or soft presentations, it’s not about being super technical on reading bubble lines and eddy’s, it’s about putting that fly in front of a feeding fish and making him eat.
After a pretty mild winter, it’s getting to be that time to see the tails wagging in the grass. The sight of a flooded flat with blue tipped tails wagging throughout is a sight that can get anyone’s blood pumping. Just remember, keep calm, take a deep breath, and shoot for the moon!
With the temperatures rising every day and the water warming up, things are starting to change down on the Crystal Coast. We’re seeing more and more bait fish, which is a double edged sword. On one side, it’s more food for the redfish to feed on; on the other hand, it allows the winter time schools to start breaking up and spread out to feed. We’re finding fish on a consistent basis, but spread out over a larger area. The colder days of “there’s a group of two hundred” or “I saw two schools together and I swear it was a thousand fish” days are over for the year. It’s time to spread out, and hunt the flats.
When I’m out targeting redfish on the fly, I’m typically tossing an 8 weight rod, now of course you can go smaller or larger in size, but that seems to be the magic number for most inshore saltwater fish. I’ll use a 9 foot fluorocarbon leader anywhere from 8-12 pounds with a weight forward, floating line. Stealth is key when targeting redfish on the flats, remember to step softly and not bang around in the boat. Have your rod ready to go, with about thirty feet of line stripped of the reel ready to make your first cast. If you can accurately toss a fly thirty feet into an area the size of a hula-hoop, your chances at getting a red on the fly go up exponentially. Lead the fish by around two feet and cast roughly one foot behind them. This time of year, I’m mostly throwing some sort of baitfish pattern, something along the lines of a clouser minnow, deceiver, EP baitfish or if I’m in the grass I’ll throw a shrimp pattern or crab pattern that has a weed guard tied on. Also give topwater a try, keep a popper or gurgler in your fly box ready. Just a subtle strip, strip…..strip, strip…strip, strip….SET! Always use a strip set for redfish, the rule of thumb is “if you lift it, you lose it”. Drive that hook home and hold on for the ride!