Flat-Tactics on the Treasure Coast....
While snook fishing is on most anglers minds these days, I am still out there in search of redfish on the flats. We have been fortunate to have a growing population of red drum around the Treasure Coast. It's great to see so many slot size fish in our area once again. I have been lucky enough over the last fifteen years to witness the increase of size and number of our redfish.
I break down fishing the flats into three aspects:
1. Learning the area you want to fish.
2. Reading the water.
3. Presentation of your lures
Most flats in our area will be the hangout for reds. It provides lots of fun and excitement for the anglers. Learning the flats takes time and patience, but will pay off with that first hook up on a top end slot fish. I watch anglers idle up on the flats, which will make most fish high tail it out of there. Stealth is one of the most important parts of the puzzle. Start fishing off the flats and slowly work your way up on them. You will be amazed that a lot of fish hang just off the edges.
Pick one flat and learn it well. You might be amazed at the different contours and variety of bottom along the area. Tidal cuts give fish many options to feed or find a retreat from danger. One part may be shallow and almost unfishable, while another part provides deeper areas that are accessible to fish and anglers. Spend some time and be patient. Learn the area you want to fish and then move on to another area to learn.
Tides also play a role in how to fish different areas. Naturally, high tides provide more areas to fish, while low tides limit access to many shallow parts of the flats. Learn where to fish on both tides. I find that low tides will many times congregate fish into deeper cuts, while they wait for the water to turn around. Once again, time and patience pays off.
Lures are so varied that you could write volumes about what to use and when to use it. Everyone has their favorites that they tend to use most of the time. I always use a variety of lures on the flats. You won’t find me without a DOA shrimp tied on one of my rods along with a top water lure or CAL jerk bait. Don't be stubborn and not be willing to try something different. I always try my go to lures, but will change styles or colors when necessary. It's been proven, over and over again, that presentation is the most important part of lure fishing. Give two people the same lure and one will catch, while the other is mumbling sweet nothings under their breath. Don't give up on a lure till you have tried working it in different patterns first. Working a lure slow or fast can make a difference.
Learn to read the water. Most anglers will miss good fishing areas by not watching what is happening on the water. Redfish are lazy most of the time. A school will lie quietly on the bottom undisturbed unless you happen to work your way on top of them. The majority of times, you won't see them pushing water or tailing. One slight movement in the water could be a school of mullet or redfish. You just never quite know for sure. Work slowly and watch every movement on the water.
I've mentioned time and patience a number of times in this article. After over thirty years of fishing the Indian River, I still learn something new each time I get out on the water. Our flats are great places to fish and learning how to fish them will give you hours of fun and excitement seeking out the reds in the area. The Treasure Coast is a great place to live and fish. Redfish are back and the fishing gets better each year!
Remember, fishing is not just another hobby....it's an ADVENTURE!
Captain Charlie Conner