Trip Report Tailing Tides

Dylar

Kicked
Howdy y'all,

I'm a new member from North Carolina, and I've been down here digging on all these exotic (to me) reports of fish I've never caught in places I've never been. It occurred to me that it would be a tad bit ungrateful to simply consume reports and not reciprocate, so I thought I'd share a little write-up of a week spent chasing flood tide redfish earlier in the month.

------

I'm a mountain boy. I make my home in Asheville, North Carolina. I've got kin scattered all over Southern Appalachia. As a kid, though, I really cut my teeth fishing the beaches and estuaries of the South Carolina Low Country. My cousin Drew was a part of many of those fishing adventures, and these days, he makes his home in Frogmore, SC. We've remained close over the years, and I get down there to fish with him on the reg.

The flood tides that accompany the full and new moon periods each month are when the magic really happens for fly fingers in the Low Country marshes. The higher-than-usual tides allow redfish to shimmy onto normally inaccessible spartina grass flats to feed on the bounty of fiddler crabs that normally find refuge there. With fish standing on their heads, tails waving lazily in the air as they root the crabs from their burrows, these "tailing tides" create the best opportunity for a wading angler to sight fish a red drum.


One of the local real estate companies puts out a detailed annual tide chart as an advertising ploy, and when they released the 2018 chart last November, Drew and I circled the first two weeks of October. Ten straight days of tailing rides, in early fall at the peak of the feed? Yes, please!

I rolled into cousin's place on a Wednesday afternoon, and within an hour, I was standing on a dry flat, waiting for the water to come in. Charts or no charts, the tides are a subtle, tricky dance between forces earthly and cosmic—between wind and wave, the gravity of sun and moon, and the rotation of the earth. Rains are blessed down in Africa, a storm churning a thousand miles away pushes the water in five minutes early, and you miss your shot. It's best to arrive early and just hope the bugs missed the bus.


The first fish came slinking in when the water was barely more than ankle deep. When they belly crawl like that, their entire backs out of the water. They look like snakes slithering through the grass. I'm always amazed at how shallow these fish will go, but really, they're built for it.

The game is simple; lead the fish by several feet and drag it past their face. They're rarely fly selective. A redfish only comes up in the grass to exercise its rights as a consumer; they're there to eat, and this means you rarely have to make the hard sell to elicit a take.


2016 and 2017 were a little weird. The redfish were around, but there were only a handful of good tides each year. They never seemed to establish the habit of moving up into the grass. On a typical outing we were seeing 3-4 fish and maybe grinding out 1 or 2 decent shots.

This season, there have been plenty of flood tides, and the fish are once again exploiting the opportunity to get up in the grass and hit the fiddlers' conventions. The wind stayed down the first several days, and the clouds largely stayed out of the sky. With favorable visibility and lots of fish around, we were spotting several dozen fish and getting 8-10 shots a piece each day. These are odds you can work with.










The weather held into the weekend, but took a turn for the worst during the latter half of the trip. The winds picked up and the cloud cover increased. Water clarity dropped precipitously. Simply locating fish as a wading angler in time to maneuver for a shot under those conditions becomes quite difficult.

Fortunately, my cousin has invested the time and effort to cultivate his somewhat fractious neighbors, and the reward for his Jobian patience is access to a number of private docks that extend out onto the grass flat on the front side of the marsh island where Drew lives. The elevated vantage points kept us in the game under less than favorable circumstances.








My last full day, we made a run in Drew's boat out to a sheltered cove on a main inlet. It sits protected on the lee side of one of the larger barrier islands in the area. When the tide is moving good, it turns into one giant eddy, like the baggage line at the airport, but instead of suitcases, it has shoals of mullet, menhaden and shrimp, constantly being recirculated over a sandy, potholed flat.

We were after spotted seatrout, drum family relatives of the redfish that eat better than they fight and are known locally as "specks". I was drifting and slowly bumping a shrimp pattern when I felt the characteristic single light tap of a speckled trout eating on the fall. I set and pretty much knew immediately that it was not a speck. It turned out to be the biggest inshore redfish I've taken in a couple years, even got into my backing for a moment.




The next morning, the plan was to get in one last go 'round in the grass, but when we got up, it was pouring rain with no sign of quitting. I had to settle for a killer breakfast and headstart on the traffic for the trip home, but I'll be seeing those tails in my dreams until I return.

Cheers y'all!

Dylar

 

Dylar

Kicked
I just moved to South Carolina and cannot wait to get out and try for these!!!!!
They're cool fish. None of the romance of salmonids or the tropical flats fish, of course, but they come in the skinny water, take a fly readily and thump a bit when you get one on the line.
 

MD

Active Member
Howdy y'all,

I'm a new member from North Carolina, and I've been down here digging on all these exotic (to me) reports of fish I've never caught in places I've never been. It occurred to me that it would be a tad bit ungrateful to simply consume reports and not reciprocate, so I thought I'd share a little write-up of a week spent chasing flood tide redfish earlier in the month.

------

I'm a mountain boy. I make my home in Asheville, North Carolina. I've got kin scattered all over Southern Appalachia. As a kid, though, I really cut my teeth fishing the beaches and estuaries of the South Carolina Low Country. My cousin Drew was a part of many of those fishing adventures, and these days, he makes his home in Frogmore, SC. We've remained close over the years, and I get down there to fish with him on the reg.

The flood tides that accompany the full and new moon periods each month are when the magic really happens for fly fingers in the Low Country marshes. The higher-than-usual tides allow redfish to shimmy onto normally inaccessible spartina grass flats to feed on the bounty of fiddler crabs that normally find refuge there. With fish standing on their heads, tails waving lazily in the air as they root the crabs from their burrows, these "tailing tides" create the best opportunity for a wading angler to sight fish a red drum.


One of the local real estate companies puts out a detailed annual tide chart as an advertising ploy, and when they released the 2018 chart last November, Drew and I circled the first two weeks of October. Ten straight days of tailing rides, in early fall at the peak of the feed? Yes, please!

I rolled into cousin's place on a Wednesday afternoon, and within an hour, I was standing on a dry flat, waiting for the water to come in. Charts or no charts, the tides are a subtle, tricky dance between forces earthly and cosmic—between wind and wave, the gravity of sun and moon, and the rotation of the earth. Rains are blessed down in Africa, a storm churning a thousand miles away pushes the water in five minutes early, and you miss your shot. It's best to arrive early and just hope the bugs missed the bus.


The first fish came slinking in when the water was barely more than ankle deep. When they belly crawl like that, their entire backs out of the water. They look like snakes slithering through the grass. I'm always amazed at how shallow these fish will go, but really, they're built for it.

The game is simple; lead the fish by several feet and drag it past their face. They're rarely fly selective. A redfish only comes up in the grass to exercise its rights as a consumer; they're there to eat, and this means you rarely have to make the hard sell to elicit a take.


2016 and 2017 were a little weird. The redfish were around, but there were only a handful of good tides each year. They never seemed to establish the habit of moving up into the grass. On a typical outing we were seeing 3-4 fish and maybe grinding out 1 or 2 decent shots.

This season, there have been plenty of flood tides, and the fish are once again exploiting the opportunity to get up in the grass and hit the fiddlers' conventions. The wind stayed down the first several days, and the clouds largely stayed out of the sky. With favorable visibility and lots of fish around, we were spotting several dozen fish and getting 8-10 shots a piece each day. These are odds you can work with.










The weather held into the weekend, but took a turn for the worst during the latter half of the trip. The winds picked up and the cloud cover increased. Water clarity dropped precipitously. Simply locating fish as a wading angler in time to maneuver for a shot under those conditions becomes quite difficult.

Fortunately, my cousin has invested the time and effort to cultivate his somewhat fractious neighbors, and the reward for his Jobian patience is access to a number of private docks that extend out onto the grass flat on the front side of the marsh island where Drew lives. The elevated vantage points kept us in the game under less than favorable circumstances.








My last full day, we made a run in Drew's boat out to a sheltered cove on a main inlet. It sits protected on the lee side of one of the larger barrier islands in the area. When the tide is moving good, it turns into one giant eddy, like the baggage line at the airport, but instead of suitcases, it has shoals of mullet, menhaden and shrimp, constantly being recirculated over a sandy, potholed flat.

We were after spotted seatrout, drum family relatives of the redfish that eat better than they fight and are known locally as "specks". I was drifting and slowly bumping a shrimp pattern when I felt the characteristic single light tap of a speckled trout eating on the fall. I set and pretty much knew immediately that it was not a speck. It turned out to be the biggest inshore redfish I've taken in a couple years, even got into my backing for a moment.




The next morning, the plan was to get in one last go 'round in the grass, but when we got up, it was pouring rain with no sign of quitting. I had to settle for a killer breakfast and headstart on the traffic for the trip home, but I'll be seeing those tails in my dreams until I return.

Cheers y'all!

Dylar

Very cool report. Thanks for taking the time to write it up and share

Mike d
 

cabezon

Sculpin Enterprises
Excellent report. I lived in Greenville, NC for about 9 years and loved the freshwater, estuarine, and marine diversity of North Carolina. Twelve months a year of opportunity.
Welcome aboard.
Steve
 
With global warming and sea level rise, maybe you'll have more 'tailing tides' in years to come. Great report about a fishery I've never heard about before.
 

Kfish

Active Member
Very nice! Thank you for sharing. Those redfish still haunts me after getting my ass handed to me in Galveston :)
 

Eyejuggler

High bank poacher
Thumbs up Dylar! Love seeing the unusual to me, up close and personal. Beautiful fishery, thank you for sharing!
 

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