Without a doubt we are lucky to have such a great inshore fishery here in the Hilton Head area. We have the opportunity to catch redfish on a year round basis on light tackle spinning and fly rods using artificial lures, live bait and flies. Moreover, we use a number of different fishing tactics that would include poling the shallow water mud fats, baiting the oyster bars, grass edges and creek mouths and sight fishing for tailing redfish. Though catching redfish by any method is always fun, sight fishing adds a whole new element! As we approach spring this becomes ever so true as the redfish will begin to flood the shallow short grass flats in search of fiddler crabs and thus marking the beginning of the tailing season. What is a tailing redfish you may ask? As redfish feed along the bottom in shallow waters they dip their noses down to the bottom thus exposing their tails above the surface as they feed. It really is quite a sight to see and gets anglers across South Carolina fired up to go fishing.
Imagine this: Your wading along a shallow short grass flat in mere inches of water as the tide slowly starts to flood in through the spartina grass. In the distance you hear fish crashing through the grass as they push in to feed on fiddler crabs. It doesn’t take long for the tide to flood up above your ankles and as you look down the flat you can see a red tail tipped in blue waving above the surface. Within a few minutes you see another and then another, before you realize it you are in the middle of a red hot tailing bite. The only question now is whether or not you can keep hands from shaking long enough make an accurate cast to place a fly in front of a feeding redfish!
I consider fishing for tailing redfish to be the ultimate hunt with a fishing rod. It really combines the sports of hunting and fishing in the way that we pick out one fish, stalk it until we have the right shot and then fire away with the fishing rod in hopes of getting a bite. Though you can fish for tailing reds out of the boat I prefer to wade fish because you do have an advantage in mobility and a lower profile… plus it really adds to the hunt! As far as tackle I recommend 8-17 pound spinning rods spooled with braided line or an 8 weight fly rod. Most soft plastic lures will work along with small crab fly pattens and even live bait. For wading the flats you simply need an old pair of lace up tennis shoes (lace them tight to keep periwinkles out) and a fanny pack to carry your extra tackle. Good luck and until next time Catch em Up! Captain Charlie
Captain Charlie Beadon