Flats Wading!

I paddled across the glass surface, heading towards the glowing horizon to my fishing spot. The daylight was approaching and my anticipation was growing. I started to see wakes push ahead of me in the water, and at that time my paddle dug into the soft sand. I stopped the boat, jumped out, tied my kayak to my belt, grabbed my rod and started casting my small swimbait across the flat. 3rd cast in, I felt that wonderful tap, and after a hookset, the water erupted. Not long after I was admiring a beautiful 29” snook.

I was fishing the intercoastal waters between Longboat Key and Sarasota, FL. I love wading these inshore flats. I have found the most effective way to fish these flats is to wade them on a low tide. Often times it is breezy and the water is gin clear. If I drift towards the fish in my kayak, I have chased them away and they won’t bite for a good while. If I am wading, the wind doesn’t affect me and I can fish the same school for a long time while staying a decent distance away without spooking them .

These flats are about 2-4’ deep on a high tide, but on a low tide, then can be inches of water or even dry. Many of these flats are hundreds and hundreds of yards wide and just as long. On a high tide, snook, trout, redfish, jacks, pompano, and the list goes on, will cruise these flats and feed. These fish can be caught while the tide is high, but they can be anywhere on these massive flats. When the tide drops to levels where the fish don’t feel comfortable or they aren’t able to swim on top anymore, they will slide to the edge and wait for another high tide and slide back up to roam again. This is when I like to target them. I will walk the edge of the flats casting parallel to the slope and at a 45 degree angle out to deeper water. Usually inside cuts or turns will concentrate a greater amount of fish in one area. Points are also good, but not as good for me as cuts.

A kayak is a perfect vessel to get to these flats, because then after I tie it off to myself, I have a portable tackle and rod carrier. Otherwise while wading I am usually limited to one rod and I carry a backpack for tackle.
Next time you hit the saltwater flats, look for that low tide and do some wetlegging.

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