For anglers in the know in Northeast Florida, this is the epitome of light tackle and fly fishing in our area. The mention of the words alone is enough to send anglers scrambling for tide charts, scouring for the magic numbers that forecast that a flood tide is impending. Flood tides occur around full and new moons, and refer to the unusually high tide that brings water to the shorter areas of spartina grass, often where fiddler crabs and other fish forage congregate en masse. When these tides occur, the redfish in our area, not generally known for "tailing" will feed aggressively, showing themselves by their signature flagging tail as they bob through the grass. Opportunities to cast at tailing sheepshead are also ordinarily available.
This type of fishing is extraordinarily visual, challenging, exciting and downright fun. Some days, the fish are as challenging as wary bonefish and require a fly placed within inches of their nose and stripped just the right way. Other days, the redfish feed with reckless abandon and will strike a fly cast within several feet. Under the later circumstance, top-water surface "gurglers" make for an especially visual bite.
In addition to fly fishing, for those who prefer spinning tackle, gold spoons and jerkbaits can be utilized to get in on the flood tide action.In either case, having a partner capable of maneuvering the boat into perfect position is imperative. At times, wading shoes can be utilized to slip into position. Keeping wading shoes on to slip out of the boat if necessary is generally advisable, but often a shot from the skiff is preferred and stealthier. Although these high tides can occur throughout the year, the preferred time to have quality shots at redfish and sheepshead is April through October, with August and September being best.
A redfish tails in the spartina marshes of Jacksonville, Florida