I’ve been lucky enough to target redfish on the fly in North Carolina for over ten years.
Through a lot of trial and error, I’ve picked up on a few things that I’d love to pass on to you.
Throughout the South you can target redfish year-round. Each season is different, so you need to switch up your tactics to stay successful.
When most fly anglers think of summer redfish, they envision flood tides and copper tails waving in the green Spartina grass. Me too. Tailing reds are a definite favorite of mine.
Unfortunately, the reality is that you only get a handful of tailing tides that fall during daylight hours each month.
Low tides, on the other hand, are available on a daily basis and can provide for some great fly fishing opportunities.
Why target redfish during the low tide?
It’s a big wide world out there. The marsh is expansive and there are enough high tide hiding spots for redfish to stay out of sight without much of a problem. There are enough creeks and bays throughout the marshes that you could continually explore them every day for months and still not see all of it.
Go set up in the marsh at high tide and wait six hours. Over those six hours, you could see anywhere from two to 6 feet of tidal drop by the time you reach low tide.
No matter what the tidal change is, one thing you’ll notice is that by the time you hit low tide the redfish have lost at least half of their hiding spots.
Flats that held several feet of water now hold a foot or less in some places, with some stretches left completely dry.
Hit a series of creeks and bays at high tide, and notice how many signs of fish you see. Most of what you see, will be mullet cruising along the water’s surface. Signs of redfish will be noticeably absent.
Reds can and will float high near the surface, but most of the time during the summer they will be found near the bottom resting or looking for a meal. Due to this, you will rarely see any signs of a resting or swimming redfish when they have a few feet of water over their back.
If you can’t see a them, your only option is to blind cast along likely spots and hope for the best. Blind casting with conventional tackle during high tide can be very effective. Top water plugs, spinnerbaits, spoons and scented plastics do an excellent job of getting noticed. They all send out good vibrations, plenty of flash, sound cues and enticing smells to call in redfish from a distance.
Not so with most flies. To be really effective with a small scentless fly, you have to know where your target is. In most redfish locales, summertime means muddy or stained water, so a fly more than a few feet away from your target could easily go unnoticed.
Low tide does two things for the fly fisherman.
A. It takes away a lot of redfish hiding places.
Most of the small creeks and bays that feed into larger areas end up dry or just too shallow for the reds to continue to hide there. These fish are forced to concentrate together in the remaining areas that hold enough water for them to feel safe while waiting out the tide. Summer time redfish aren’t found in big schools like they are known for in the winter, but low tides can help bring them back together for a few hours each day.
B. As the tide drops out of the marsh, it leaves the redfish exposed to anglers in search of their target.
It’s amazing to see how alive the creeks and bays become when you only have 6” of water for the fish to hide in. Everything that moves puts on a show for the angler.