Skinny Water, Fat Fish

This bull Red was caught in less than a foot of water. Photo courtesy of Controlled Descent Lures.

By Capt. Michael Okruhlik

Shallow Waters

Some anglers shy away from shallow water, while others gravitate to it. I prefer to wade in 3 feet or less, and I typically focus on areas that are knee deep.

On a recent trip, I did a combination of wading and drifting in the kayak. This area was only 1 to 2 feet deep and the water was very clear. The bottom consisted of scattered grass and a little shell. I started my wade with the wind at my back and blowing parallel to the shoreline. I positioned my wade far enough off the shore so that I could still reach it with a long cast. My intention was to cover as much area as I could from the shore to as far as I could cast into the bay. I made sure to fan cast 180 degrees from left to right and cover each pothole in depths from several inches to approximately 3 feet. The goal was to focus my attention on a certain depth once I started catching fish. However, on this wade there was no set pattern, and the redfish ate from all types of different areas along that shoreline.

Kayak Fishing on the sand bar.

After the morning bite diminished, I decided to move to a location I had not fished in a few years. This was a small area with broken islands all around it. I stayed in the kayak this time and positioned it a long cast away from a shallow sand bar. This bar was a submerged point that extended off a small mangrove island. The right side of the island had windblown current funneling through a gap and across the top of the bar to the left. Since the water was clear and the wind had picked up causing the waves to slap the hull of my kayak, I decided to stake out as far away from my target area as possible. It was now time for the mid-day minor feed according to the solunar table. I aimed my cast about 15 yards past the crest of the bar. This time I found the reds concentrated in a specific area. The majority of them hit at the drop off. This was only a 1-foot drop, but it was abrupt.

Here is a tip when fishing shallow. I see a lot of people make the mistake of casting as far as they can right from the start. I like to start off with short casts and gradually increase my distance. My thought is, if I catch a fish on that long first cast, I may scare away fish that were between me and the fish I just hooked. When fishing shallow, that could spook off other potential catches. I try to catch the close ones first and then work my way out to the long cast.

Capt. Michael Okruhlik is the inventor of Controlled Descent Lures and the owner of

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