I used to be into bass fishing quite a bit in my youth. This was in the days before the Internet, when the way to get information was to read various magazines on the subject. I remember one article…something about the top 5 spots to always find bass…and naturally, I carried this sort of knowledge with me when I started saltwater kayak fishing, and I always noticed a lot of similarities between bass fishing and saltwater fishing.
One thing to remember – always look for the edge. The edge, meaning a grass flat that drops into a channel, a sand bar that “humps” in the middle of a flat, a weedy spot that gets sparse along the edges, and oyster bar with deeper pools on either end, or a mangrove shoreline that drops off very quickly…these are all “edges” to look for.
The reason fish relate to edges is simple – from the time they’re little, just hatched juveniles, they fear death from above. Birds are a major fish predator – even as adults – an osprey or pelican has no problem preying on a fully grown redfish or snook found in shallow water. Deeper water provides a sense of security for fish and that’s one of the main reasons you’ll find them near an edge.
Another reason fish hang around edges and depth changes is, often times, these structures act as a current break AND a natural funneling action to push unsuspecting prey items to them. Most of the species we target in Florida are opportunistic ambush predators and lie in wait for their food to be swept to them by rising or falling tides and usually won’t pass up the chance to eat a jig or fly fished along with the current.
Yet, another reason to fish deeper water edges is water temperature. I’ve waded along a shallow flat that drops off into a channel and can feel the cooler water flowing up from the deeper water and can feel about 10 degrees cooler. This is a fish’s version of air conditioning during the warmer months.
One of my favorite edges to fish is a current dug cut near Sand Key. The water on the north side of the cut is less than a foot deep, the south side of the cut is a shallow grass flat. The cut itself is about 20 feet wide and about 150 feet long with the depth being around 6 feet. The way I fish it is to park the kayak about 75 feet away on the sandy northwest side of the cut and walk the sand bar that’s barely covered by the water. When the tide is incoming, I make long casts to the “mouth” of the cut and swim my lure or fly along the cut. It doesn’t take long for my offering to be inhaled by a hungry fish sitting inside this cut…
Another “edge” to look for is a mangrove creek. Larger mangrove islands often have small creeks that cross through them with the tide stage making them deeper or shallow. Mangrove prop roots provide shelter for a number of baitfish and crabs…the preferred food of our big 3 target species. At the mouth of these mangrove creeks, oftentimes will be a “bowl” or deeper hole gouged out by swift moving tides. A good time to be at the mouth of these creeks would be on an outgoing tide. Fish like to hang around this deeper bowl and wait to find prey items riding the tide out. A great pattern or lure to use in this situation would be a dark colored crab fly or jig. Cast it up the creek as far as possible and swim it out with the tide. Try to think like a prey item would and see if you can swim that thing back to the kayak undetected past the lurking predators.
One resource that I use to find edges like these is to use Bing Maps or Google Maps. Many of these areas can be found easily by the aerial views provided. Bing is good because the birds eye feature can get you right down to almost 25-30 feet scale. A fancy GPS or Navionics isn’t always necessary to locate these spots….and these maps can come in handy when fishing water you aren’t familiar with.