October Flood Tide Fishing

By Matt Chipperfield

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October is an exciting month here on the First Coast and it has absolutely nothing to do with pumpkin spice.

No longer do you have to contend with 100 degree temperatures and blankets of humidity. The air temperature is dropping and our local ecosystems are thriving. For inshore anglers October means one thing: Flood Tide Redfish. During summer and early fall the moon’s strong pull on the ocean creates exaggerated tides during new and full moons. High tides that take place during these cycles are referred to as flood tides, typically ranging from 5-6 feet in height . As these flood tides peak they inundate grass flats within the intracoastal waterway. These grass flats are usually sandy, muddy and dry, but they receive 12-24 inches of flood water at the top of the tide. This is significant because these flats are packed with small grass crabs, fiddlers and insects that are left stranded in the flood water. Hungry redfish slide their way through mere inches of water to get to these flats and prey on these small crustaceans. These bright gold redfish are clearly visible with their backs out of the water and their tails waving in the air as they move around the grasses. It is truly amazing to watch a redfish wave his tail at you in just a foot of water as he plunges his nose into the mud looking for food.

Most anglers utilize fly fishing methods to target these belly crawling fish, but soft plastic lures and spin tackle can also be used. Most flood flats can be reached by kayak, paddle board or by boat, but some can be reached by foot from the shore. The shallow depth and firm bottom of these tidal flats allows fisherman to leave their craft and wade through the water after their catch. It is pure sight fishing and stalking. It will leave your hands shaking and your heart pumping. This is a one-of-a-kind fishery that every outdoorsman should experience. North Guana Outpost on Mickler Road can provide you with fly casting lessons, flood tide flies, soft plastic lures and local guides to get you started.

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