My friend and I launched in Tampa Bay, and paddled out to the pristine flats through the fog while watching mullet jump. Today was a perfect winter negative low tide, one of my favorite times to fly fish. They say the journey is part of the adventure; if you’re fishing the back country pockets and troughs on a tide that is below the low mean tide, an adventure it will be.
To me, free exercise is good - and that’s what I kept telling myself as we pulled the kayaks over the exposed flats of mud, sand, and sea grass with wading birds feeding nearby. After what felt like an eternity of dragging and getting stuck in the mud, we hit our spot - a perfect secluded area with great water flow and a nice deeper pocket. We anchored with the wind to our backs, just before the dropoff. I tied a weighted #4 shrimp imitation fly to a 12lbfluorocarbon leader (knowing the water was way too cold to catch snook), then stood up in the kayak and was ready to fish.
The key with deeper water is to get the fly down, so I cast cross-current, let it sink, and then retrieved in slow, long pulls with a little twitch at the end.
It didn’t take long before we were catching fish after fish. It started with spotted sea trout, than super-size ladyfish, redfish. There were flounder mixed in, which to me are just an awesome catch on a fly rod. At the end of the day, I will take a flounder slam-plus on a fly rod any day of the week. It was just an incredible catching day in Florida.
If you’re thinking about getting into fly fishing, there is no better time than now. Technology has changed, and fly fishing is no longer for the special few. Both good quality rods and reels can be found for reasonable prices. For this type of saltwater fishing, the rod and the line are the most important components. The reel does need a reasonable drag, but nothing fancy.
If you’re interested in fly fishing and have questions please send me a message through Facebook at “Shallow Fly Walt” and I will be happy to help! Live life by the minute and get outdoors and have some fun!
About the Author: Walt Palen was raised on the Southwest Coast of Florida on the pristine waters of Charlotte Harbor just a short boat ride from Boca Grande. The endless miles of the mangrove back country was a perfect playground for a growing boy. At age sixteen Walt became a certified SCUBA diver. Boating, fishing, diving, spear fishing, and water skiing were all part of the daily outdoor adventures and fun. A passion for fresh and saltwater light tackle artificial expanded to fly fishing and fly tying. He enjoys travel and has fished throughout the United States and Canada for an assortment of species. On his last expedition Walt spent 3 weeks on the rugged coast of Nova Scotia hiking and targeting Atlantic salmon and sea trout with the fly rod. Flats boats were the boat of choice until a few years ago and then the lure of fishing from a kayak took over and is now the primary mode of inshore fishing transportation. Walt is an avid inshore tournament fisherman and contributes to blogs and outdoor magazines. He is always ready to help with tips or suggestions and is known as “Shallow Fly Walt” on Facebook, fishing forums or his blog: http://shallowflywalt.wordpress.com/.