Flagler Fishing Report
As water temps hopefully continue to cool after January’s warm spell, water clarity will get better and better till it reaches “Gin Clear”. Hitting the flats once the sun is high and with incoming tide will give you sight fishing opportunities for redfish and sheepshead. To find sheepshead on the flats look around oyster bars till you see the striped bandits nibbling away. A stealthy approach is a must by either poling or quietly using your troll motor. A rig I like to use is a 1/0 Daiichi octopus J hook with a bb split shot a few inches above the hook, I then rig a shrimp weed less by cutting off it’s tail for sent and inserting hook through the tail and back into it’s body for a weedless rig. Bigger Sheepsheads will be hanging around deeper water structure like docks, bridges, channel markers and area Inlets. Fiddler crabs, oyster crabs and oysters are offering that are rarely turned down by sheepshead hanging around deep structure.
Trout fishing should be catch and release only as the season is normally closed but with new regulations trout remain open year round and bag limits are up to six instead of five fish. Look for trout to school up around ICW creek mouths, deep holes in creek bends and Matanzas Inlet. Small soft plastics like Fishbites Extreme paddle tails or curly tails on a ¼ ounce Slayer jig head will attract schooled up trout. Gator trout will be sunning on mud flats during the heat of the day and a live mullet swimming on the surface will tempt even the wariest trout.
Redfish schools will be on sun baked flats during higher tides and roaming the ICW during low tides. Multiple fish can be caught as long as you’re quiet and do not get to aggressive with your approach. Artificial lures is better in my opinion as you can get multiple cast to schools if spooked and don’t waste time rebating. Fly fisherman test their cast and accuracy by sight fishing laid up and cruising redfish on the shallow flats. My go to flies are flats bunnies, merkwans and just about any fly that resembles a bait fish.
Black drum are relatives to red fish and noted as good table fair when caught less than 5 pounds and can hold their own once hooked. Recent outings have produced good numbers of “puppy drum” which range from 2 to 6 pounds. Simple rigs are used to catch Black drum, one of my favorites is a Slayer inc. ¼ oz. jig head and a live or fresh dead shrimp hooked through the head. Since Black drum are bottom dwellers and feed almost exclusively on the bottom other good baits that produce “stink” are quartered blue crabs, clams and oysters. Black drum are primarily found in deeper water but during those cold spells look to sight fish them on the shallow flats.
Capt. Chris Herrera