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Redfish on the Flats

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By Jenna Taylor

Photos by Hunter Forbes

 

Redfish habitat ranges from inshore to the Gulf of Mexico, including the grassy flats of Florida. No matter the location, the Red Drum surely packs a challenging fight. When they’re feeding on the grassy flats, you can see their tails just out of the water—that’s only if Mother Nature intends to play along.

 

There are numerous conditions that need to be met for a good day of red fishing on the flats. The wind has to be just right—not too calm or you’ll scare them, and not too rough or else you won’t be able to spot them. Here are a few tips for catching a redfish on the flats.

 

Know what to look for. If you want to catch one of these tricky guys, you’ll need to find them first. You’ll want to look for both a broad-v wake and tails. In the shallow areas (one to three feet), you will see a distinct bulge in the water made by the fish’s head, followed by a v-shape wake.

 

If you look towards the shoreline and see tails, this is also a sure way of finding a redfish. Their tails go up when they go down to the muddy bottoms to feed on shrimp, crabs and bait fish. Lastly, you can look for moving grass. Redfish like to congregate near grassy shorelines and when moving, you’re able to see the grass go back and forth.

 

Know what baits and lures to use. Since you’re on the grassy flats, you’ll want to use either a weedless spoon (1/2-ounce) or 1/8-ounce jig head combined with a shrimp. You can also switch it up and try a classic walk-the-dog topwater lure. Have a variety with you so that you can change the variation depending on your conditions (water color, wind, etc.).

 

Use the right tools. Making sure that you’re utilizing the right rods and reels is imperative to landing a redfish on the flats. It is recommended that you use a seven-foot medium action spinning rod, rated for eight-to-15 pound line. You’ll want to match your rod with a medium action reel with braided line in the 10-pound test class. Finish it off with three feet of 25-pound leader.

 

You’ll want to cast far with small bait which is exactly what this set up will allow you to do. If you’re fond of fly fishing, that’s even better. Orvis recommends that you use an eight-weight rod and line for saltwater redfish with floating line. They also recommend using a nine-foot, 12-pound knotless leader.

 

Find a professional. Unless you have the correct tools, flats boat and knowledge for redfish, you will want to contact a professional or guide in your area, which is especially true for when fishing on the flats. 30A Guide Service, located in Santa Rosa Beach, specializes in flats fishing in the area and offers both half-day and full-day trips.

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