Fly Fishing For Winter Redfish
Alright Ladies and Gents, it’s time to get skinny. No, I’m not talking about a gym membership or workout plan, no cardio here or diets required; I’m talking water depth. The tables turn on the fishery during the winter fishery, instead of targeting high tides for tailers, we begin to target low tide for schooling fish. I’ll go ahead and say it loud and clear, the fish are schooling and the bite is phenomenal right now.
During the colder weather as a lot of the baitfish that larger fish and predators prey on begin to move out, redfish begin to school up. The group together in large numbers in a pack mentality, protection by numbers. One of the main ways that schooling redfish can protect themselves is to get shallow. They need to stay in water that shallow enough to where any feeding predators such as dolphin cannot gain access to. That means that anglers should target these schools during low tide for some insane fishing action. Now, since fish are in super skinny water and already on high alert due to predators, they will be spooky and shy away from any noise to un-natural motion. Stay quiet, toss lighter weight flies and make long casts.
For winter redfish on fly, I enjoy a slim, black patterned fly. A black clouser, size 4 with a little gold flash works almost all the time. Smaller slider patterns also work well, think more natural colors since the fish aren’t as aggressive. I tie a lot of flies with bead chain eyes during the winter, that way there isn’t such a big splash when the fly lands on the water. I will also lengthen my leader by a couple feet, sometimes throwing a leader as long as 12 feet for a very skittish group of fish. You can still get away with 20-pound leader, but I do like to taper down just a bit more, down to even the 12-pound range just to add more stealth to my fly presentation. Longer casts will be needed during this time of year, if you bump a school of fish or spook them up, just hang back and let them settle down a bit. Target fish on the exterior of the group, don’t just bomb a cast into the middle of the group and instantly blow everything out. Hook the fish and get them away from the group as best as you can. The bite won’t be nearly as aggressive as during the summer season, but as soon as your line has any tension to it, set the hook! You’ll want to be fairly accurate with your casts, you’ll need the fly to be right in the line of sight. If you cast a little to far in front of the fish, strip some line in before the fish crosses your fly and wait, as the fish gets near, give it a little twitch, small strip to get his attention. Pretty much once you get a fish to turn and focus on your fly, it’s game over for him.
Stay stealthy, stay skinny and enjoy the cooler weather. This is by far one of my favorite times to fish due to all the sights, sounds and activity. There’s nothing like turning a corner and seeing a group of several hundred fish with their backs out of the water just waiting for a delicious fly to slurp up for lunch!