This time of year is magical in the lowcountry, and really everywhere for those of us who share passions for the outdoors. The cold weather has finally faded and the days are getting longer. The muted colors of the salt marsh are slowly giving way to vibrant shoots of green spartina grass and the busy fiddler crabs and marsh birds are back in numbers, picking through the flats at high tide. For the avid inshore angler, this time of year means one thing: the return of tailing redfish.
Redfish don’t “tail” on a flood tide all year long so the anticipation builds once the season ends in the Fall and picks back up again in Spring (or once the water begins to warm to around 70 degrees). This action that we refer to as tailing is when the redfish move into shallow water (typically grass flats on a flood tide) and dig through the marsh grass and mud in search of fiddler crabs, snails and other things they love to eat. For a fly angler, this feeding method makes them one of the most perfectly designed fish to target. A tailing redfish will often times be feeding so voraciously in the flooded grass, that his tail or entire body comes out above the waters surface, tipping off anglers to his whereabouts. Once the fish has unknowingly given away his location, it is then up to the angler to sneak on foot or stealthily pole their skiff into position. They must then make the perfect cast to present their offering to the hungry redfish. It is sight fishing in its purest form.
It just so happens that sight fishing for redfish is one of our passions here at Fish Hippie. If you’ve kept up with us long, you probably already know that we try to spend as much time as possible out on the water in our skiff, a Hells Bay Professional. Our skiff is rigged out and perfect for poling after redfish in 4” of water, but to get out and enjoy flood tide fishing you can get by with a lot less. Any boat that can get you out to the flat will do, just anchor up on the side of the bank and put on some old tennis shoes. You can stalk tailing redfish by foot if you can just get to the flat, don’t let not having a proper flats boat deter you!
Any saltwater angler will tell you that being able to pursue redfish all year is great and we couldn’t agree more. In fact, the fall and winter fishing can be red hot, some of the best days of the year can come during this time. But the truth of the matter is, all we wish for during the cold winter months are the warm Spring and Summer days. The days where we load up in the skiff with a couple of cold ones and make runs through narrow lanes of flooded marsh grass to get to our favorite flats. The heart pounding moment when you spot a 10 pound fish meandering through the flooded grass in less than a foot of water, annihilating any fiddler crab or bait in his path. There is no feeling like stalking within fly casting distance of a redfish, laying out the perfect cast and watching him turn onto your fly. Those moments when the fish pounces on the offering and the line comes tight are what keep us coming back time after time. These are the moments that we live for and the time to pursue them is just around the corner.
Best of luck to all our fellow anglers who will be chasing the redfish during the flood tides Be sure to keep an eye out for the Fish Hippie skiff, we’ll be poling the flats up and down the East Coast this year. Tight Lines!