It's not unusual to see 50 fish or more stacked up in shallow waters. That's why modern flats boats, made of composite materials for some of the strongest and lightest hulls, are needed to navigate these waters.
Anglers can use a push pole to maneuver their boat in as little as 6 inches of water or less. Because "skinny" water cannot be reached by a majority of anglers, it becomes a honey hole for redfish.
"Skinny" Water Tactics
Reading the skinny water from a poling platform for pushes or wakes from a redfish is important, and so is marking any nervous water in the flat. And don't discount wading birds gathered on any oyster rake or mud flat, because these wading birds can give away the location of feeding redfish. In particular, snowy egrets can walk the bank alongside a stealthy redfish, ready to strike if any baitfish are displaced.
A good tactic is to arrive at the skinny water at dead low tide or soon after. With the incoming surge of saltwater, baitfish will be first to show up and the gamefish will be right behind them. The redfish usually arrive in succession, so choosing a good spot for casting allows for plenty of chances at hooking up. Likely areas include deeper holes, edges with a high bank and the areas where water is flowing good.
Whether choosing spinning tackle or a fly rod the skinny water offers a challenge. The less splash the better when it comes to bait presentation since shallow water redfish are sensitive to disturbance. For light tackle, use a 7-foot Ugly Stik rod and a Shimano reel spooled with 15-pound Power Pro, rigged with soft plastic Gulp! bait. For fly fishing, try an 8-weight Sage rod and reel tipped with a Lefty's Deceiver.
Don't forget that redfish have natural predators like sharks and dolphins, so they seek these shallow waters for a measure of safety. A wise angler will only fish around the edge of their territory. This approach is careful to catch and release fish without spooking the entire school, otherwise anglers have to spend time locating more fish. If successful, this approach can mean extended time and access to the skinny water fishing before the tide fills in and the redfish scatter.
Tips for Boats
While poling along in a flats boat you may become temporarily stuck on a mud flat, but you can switch ends of the boat and simply pole back out. Boats with a V-bottom will be displacing the mud and likely would be stuck waiting for the next tide cycle to float them again. Oysters that stick up out of the mud can cause a scraping noise on the hull, but that's just part of the skinny water drill.
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