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Old 01-08-18, 05:43 PM   #1
trout freak
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Default Destin, FL Redfish

After finishing up my fall semester, I had a real itch to get back out on the water. School had kept me way busier than I wanted to be, so I planned on making up for lost time on the water over winter break. I was able to spend most of my time down in Destin, FL fishing the flats of the Choctawhatchee Bay.

I've spent a lot of time fishing in Destin, but almost all of that time was spent offshore. The flats game was something my Dad and I never really considered. wtbfishin's post just before thanksgiving inspired me to give it a look. After some time on google maps, I found a few areas that looked promising. When I went to go check them out, I wasn't disappointed!

The first thing you notice when you walk out onto a Choctawhatchee Bay flat is how clear the water is. That clear water coupled with the abnormally cool December temperatures made the redfishing very technical. It took long, light leaders, soft presentations, small flies, and a bit of luck to get a fish on. What also amazed me was the number of fish I saw. It wasn't uncommon to go out and see 50 fish in a half day period. The issue was that most of the fish you saw could see you just as well.

It took some figuring out to be able to hook a few of these fish. For whatever reason, it seemed like the fish I found on the remote grass flats were the hardest ones to catch. I could present a fly as flawlessly as possible only to have the fish blow up when I stripped the fly line the slightest bit. I started to catch fish when I targeted large sand flats that were between boat docks. You could see the fish from far away which helped when planning an approach. What worked best for me was to spot the fish, cast the fly 20 feet ahead of it, and wait until the fish slowly made its way to about a foot in front of the fly. Once they got there, a light strip that drug the fly along the bottom was usually enough to get their attention. At this point, they would either freak out and bolt or inhale the fly. It's a rush! The best fly for me was a size 4 tan or olive redfish toad fished right on the bottom.

95% of my time fly fishing has been spent on trout, so it was a fun challenge to try to go figure out how to hook a few reds. In a weird way, it makes the sport more exciting when you aren't totally sure about what you're doing. All the frustration makes finally hooking one that much more satisfying! Here's some pictures of some of the fish that made it to the boat.





















If you ever find yourself near Destin, bring a kayak or rent one and go check out the flats. There are tons of put ins and all the flats have fish!
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Old 01-08-18, 05:47 PM   #2
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Now that's giving it the business!
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Old 01-08-18, 07:32 PM   #3
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Awesome headshots, sweet skiff!
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Old 01-09-18, 07:36 AM   #4
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I hate you even more now.....
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Old 01-09-18, 10:47 AM   #5
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Great looking fish! Looks like you worked out the kinks.
I fished the next two days after catching those fish in Nov. without a hookup with a bunch of fish sighted. They can be so frustrating at times.
How long ago was this successful trip? The water is extremely low of late and clear right now. I've not seen a fish around here for awhile now, no bait either other than a few small dark brown crabs movin' slow. Pretty typical this time of year off this dock.
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Old 01-09-18, 11:24 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wtbfishin View Post
Great looking fish! Looks like you worked out the kinks.
I fished the next two days after catching those fish in Nov. without a hookup with a bunch of fish sighted. They can be so frustrating at times.
How long ago was this successful trip? The water is extremely low of late and clear right now. I've not seen a fish around here for awhile now, no bait either other than a few small dark brown crabs movin' slow. Pretty typical this time of year off this dock.
These were all caught between Christmas and New Years. When the tides got real low I still saw some but not nearly as many. I didn't run into any sort of bait. I did keep one fish and found a bunch of small white crabs in its belly. I'm guessing that's what theyre looking for on those sand flats. When the tides got low I had to cover a lot of water to find them, but, when I did find them, they were pretty stacked up in "deeper" (~3') parts of the flat. Regardless, they were super finicky and very hard to get to eat. I'm looking to get out there once it warms up when there's bait and actively feeding fish on the flats. Hopefully it'll make it a little easier!
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Old 01-10-18, 11:05 AM   #7
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That's awesome! I gotta get back to the salt and catch me a red. That was the fish I started with and I miss the fight those guys put up.
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Old 01-10-18, 03:07 PM   #8
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Default Bull Reds

Long ago in the age of spinning surf rod, we were in Destin for spring break. It was a rainy, crappy, cold, windy morning but I had to escape the condo due to an estrogen flood. I was there with my wife, our two teenage daughters and two of their girl friends. So I grabbed my rod, a couple beers (well it was at least 09:00) and headed down the beach. I worked my way down the beach tossing bait with nothing going on until I got to the breakwater used by the Destin charter fleet to go in and out of their harbor.

Line was kinking so I put on a large silver spoon shaped plug to provide weight to cast into what was by now a tough wind, and enough retrieve resistance to pull the kinks out. The wind was blowing so hard the sand was doing a great hair removal on my legs so I waded out about waist deep. Cast. Retrieve. Repeat. And stop. The retrieve instantly halted and I assumed I was snagged. But I had been swimming there the day before and there was nothing there to snag, and then the snagged moved.

The struggle took at least 15 minutes and it was uncertain who was winning. I was in the water up to my waist with this big rod bent double and I could feel my feet skidding over the sand toward the water during times the fish was winning. I finally felt like I was getting the upper hand and checked to make sure my surf knife was at the ready as I figure this has to be a shark or something with more teeth than me! Finally the fish turns to its side and I see one long golden shape, a large mouth with no real teeth and my spoon.

This bull red was a minimum of 40" and I could not close my hand around the base of the tail when I was ready to do the release. At the point where I was dragging the fish up onto the sand I hear an odd sound ........ applause .......... a group of about 15 or 20 morning beach walkers had gathered to watch. First time I ever got a standing ovation for fishing!
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Old 01-10-18, 11:29 PM   #9
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Nice haul, how do you like the solo skiff?
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Old 01-11-18, 05:42 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hilljiger View Post
Nice haul, how do you like the solo skiff?
I'd totally recommend it. It can be a little difficult to put in the back of the truck, but it's an easy way to get out there. We put in an additional bracket for the motor to make the draft a little shallower which is nice in skinny water. The boat itself is very stable both when standing and running the motor. You just have to watch out for waves. Some light chop can turn into a sticky situation. The only issue I've experienced is that it's difficult to turn the boat when poling. Since the platform you stand on is more towards the middle of the boat than a normal poling platform, it's harder to get the leverage to turn the boat with the pole than it is with a normal flats skiff. Other than that, I've loved it. It's awesome to be able to cover a lot of water with a motor.
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