My dad recently came to visit Florida from Pennsylvania, where I was born and semi-raised before we moved to Maine. We packed in a ton of fishing within the four days he was here, including inshore and offshore; dolphin, snook, trout, snapper, pompano and more were on the catch list.
I took him to one of my honey holes for big trout and tried to give him some pointers (keep in mind he taught me everything I know about fishing while growing up), because Florida waters are a bit different than Maine and Pennsylvania. There aren’t really “flats” on the Maine coast that I can remember, and if there are, the temperature, structure, and layouts are very different. However, tidal flow and the orientation that fish lie in order to get a meal are very similar.
Whenever I’m on the flats, especially with a tidal flow, I try to stay observant on which direction it is going and orient myself in a manner than I am “sneaking” up behind the fish, like I want to tap them on the shoulder, instead of pouncing on them straight ahead to where they can see me coming. As I’m silently wading through the current, looking for water color variations that may unveil potholes, drop-offs, and other sorts of water changes, I’m casting ahead or over these areas, letting my bait drop down, and THEN start to work it through the pothole or other like zone. I’m trying to present my bait to come across their strike zone from the side or at least at an angle – sometimes if you throw directly up current and work it directly at you, there’s a chance your line may scrape over the back and spook your fish.
At one point I froze in my tracks after seeing a long dark object in a small sand hole, surrounded by grass (gasp!) and staying straight in the current. Trying to take my time (I still get antsy), I made a cast several feet ahead of the hole, letting the current sweep it in front, a few twitches of my bait, and watched a nice gator trout eat it in front of me.
After our trip, my dad was baffled at why I would stand in one spot for thirty minutes and cast in the same area (taking my time); my same question arose to him why he would stand and cast with the current and not catch any fish (big trout). I’m not saying you’ll never catch a nice species casting down current, I’m just saying the chances are better if you present your bait in a manner that is more appealing and if you are walking in front of the fish or not.
It’s like when I was little and would wake up in the morning, my goal would be to see how badly I could spook and scare my parents. I wouldn’t succeed by walking straight at them! I would silently maneuver whenever they would walk, using their sounds to cover up mine. I don’t know, maybe I’m using that same technique now.. At any rate, keep this in mind whenever you see a strong(er) tidal flow, and hopefully it helps you catch a few more big ones.
Mark is an accomplished tournament angler, for any further tips, feel free to reach him on his contact page.