Written by Captain Pat Damico
Tailing mullet, redfish, or something else?
Low winter tides can be fly fishing fun or frustration. When you see a tail break the surface in the lowest water what is it? I have had inexperienced anglers chase mullet, thinking they were reds, although reds often mix in with them. Spooking a school of mullet with a poor cast, sloppy wading, electric motors or shadows from the sun will scare every mullet and also their predator companions, trout and redfish. Lately large sheepshead have been frequent residents of skinny water especially near docks, passes and canals. Their tails, like redfish, show as they probe the soft bottom getting worms, crabs or shrimp, changing from a horizontal to a more vertical position. Tailing sheepshead are approached the same as redfish, very cautiously. Determine the fish’s direction before making an accurate cast. The fish facing you is ideal. Using at least a 9 foot, with 12 pound tippet tapered leader, carefully place the fly close to the fish’s nose. Cast when the tail is showing because he is creating some mud with his nose and is not as alert. Your favorite small crab pattern in dark colors will work and must have the hook pointed up with a weed guard. Bead chain eyes are better than lead so that the fly lands softly. Remove slack from your line and move the crab an inch at a time. Strikes will be violent!
Fly fisherman Pat Damico charters Fly Guy in lower Tampa Bay and can be reached at captpatdamico.com and (727) 504-8649.