September brings cooler weather, the beginning of the mullet run but most importantly those big tides that flood our spartina grass flats. So what is so special about flooding the spartina grass you ask? Simple, it gives us fisherman some unbelievable sight fishing for tailing redfish opportunities in north east Florida.
Flood tides occur during the months of August, September and October with September being the peak month for tailing redfish action. During these months the tides during new and full moons are much higher than the rest of the year by a foot or more which offer new feeding grounds for redfish and fishing grounds for anglers. Flood tide areas are mostly confined to the north east coast of Florida because of our extensive spartina grass flats. The southernmost region for flood tide action starts at the Matanzas river in Crescent beach and goes for hundreds of miles north to the Carolinas with the primary spots in Florida being St. Augustine to Fernidina Beach.
Flood tide fishing is all about picking the right days with the right tides by looking at your favorite tide charts, whether it’s a tide app, tide book or online tide charts. When looking at the monthly tide chart, look for the days that offer a tide height of 5.4 ft or better which will coincide with the new or full moon. For fair weather days a 5.4ft tide height is a must but flood tides can occur during nor’easter storms that will push more water in than normal which create flood tide opportunities.
Once you have your days picked out it’s time to get the proper gear and lures ready for some tailing action. When picking out lures you have to keep in mind that you will be fishing flooded grass which means weedless rigs are a must. That’s right, traditional topwater plugs, treble hooked plugs or exposed hooked lures are not going to work in this terrain. Instead go with a weed less rigged soft plastic lure that resemble what the redfish are gorging on and that would be any type of crab imitation soft plastic. You are not limited to just crabs as paddle tails and jerk baits have caught many fish in the past and will continue to do so in the future. I normally like to buy fresh water craw fish soft plastic lures that are dark in color matched with a 1/16th Slayer inc. XXX penetrator hooks with the point of the hook inserted back into the soft plastic for a weed less presentation. When it comes to rod selection I prefer a 7’6” medium action rod which allows for long casting light lures matched with a 2500 series spinning reel lined with 10-15 lb braided line. Flood tide is not just for lure anglers but this is some of the best fly fishing available to guys who like to throw feathers. Crab patters with rattles or spoon flies are some of the most common flies tied to the end of one’s fly line.
Now we are geared up to go catch some redfish but where do we go? This is where Google maps or any other mapping source you have come into play. With today’s detailed topo maps you are able to see in great detail the short spartina grass fields used as feeding grounds by redfish. The spartina grass fields that are closer to a main creek that have several small feeder creaks leading in the grass typically hold more fish.
Approaching a grass field should be done as quietly and slowly as possible so you do not spook the fish that are staged up and slurping in the feeder creeks while waiting for the grass to flood. Approach the edge of a flat by poling or use of a trolling motor and watch the grass start to flood waiting patiently for fish to start crawling and tailing before poling or wading the flat.
Once redfish are spotted tailing, bail from your skiff or kayak and approach with ninja like stealth and get ready to make the cast. Not so fast though, it is all about timing when casting to tailing redfish. The tail is used as a gauge as to which way the fish is facing but don’t cast yet as tailing redfish are much easier to catch when they level out and begin to swim before tailing again. When you see the redfish tailing make sure to make a long leading cast as you do not want to spook him with the splash of the lure. After a long cast reel the lure with speed basically water skiing and don’t slow down until a couple of feet in front of the redfish. When the lure gets close stop reeling, let it sink and give it a little twitch when the redfish is a few inches away and get ready to set the hook when the line gets tight.
There are several great free online sites that offer great tide info like NOAA http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/, http://www.tides4fishing.com/us/florida-east-coast/palm-valley, (Tide Chart free) app for android phones and (Tide Graph) for I phones. I personally prefer the Florida Sportsman tide book as it really gives you detail tide information for the whole year at a flip of a page.
Hooks can be purchased from www.Slayerinclures.com
Soft plastics can be purchased from http://zmanfishing.com/store/categories/elaztech