Sight Casting Strategies for the Texas Shallow Water Flats

by Lefty Ray

When I am fishing the clear water flats of the Port Aransas/Aransas Pass area, I prefer sight casting rather than blind casting. Blind casting may potentially spook unseen fish. Sight casting involves searching, stalking, positioning, casting, and hopefully a firm hookset. To sight cast successfully I divide my strategy into two timeframes. The first is from sunup till 10:00am. The second is from 10:00am and beyond.

During the first timeframe, the sun is too low to allow viewing into the water so I concentrate on the water surface. Typically the winds are in low single digits or it is calm. This allows any surface activity to be easily seen. Although mullet and redfish exist in a prey/predator relationship, they do travel together and co-mingle to some extent. The problem then arises as to whether you are viewing mullet activity, redfish activity, or both.

The two main types of activity encountered are wakes and fish tails protruding above the surface of the water.

Wakes are differentiated by their shape. Mullet will produce a more “V” shaped wake while a redfish wake will be more “U” shaped. The mullet wakes will also move in what I call a “frilly nilly” style while the redfish wake will move with more of a purpose.

Tails seen above the surface of the water are the result of fish feeding on the bottom at an angle or fish moving in very shallow water where even their backs might be exposed.

The mullet tails will be whitish in color and will be forked in shape. The red will be reddish in color and more square shaped. The redfish tail reminds me of a flag waving in the breeze.

In the second timeframe I will shift from looking on the water surface to looking into the water. After 10:00am the sun is high enough in the east to allow viewing into the shallow water world. Since the wind is predominately from the ESE direction, the best strategy is to wade with the wind and the sun behind you. You will see farther and easier in that direction. As the sun crosses the sky the best viewing is from 10:00am until 2:00pm

Polarized sunglass are the perfect tool to eliminate the surface glare allowing you to peek into the redfish world. I prefer the brownish/amber shade since this enhances the contrast between colors. Reds become redder, blacks darker, and so on. The standard gray or green shade of polarized lens only eliminates the glare.

Rookie wade fisherman will probably spook a few fish before they learn what to look for in the water. After a while it will be easier to spot moving fish or stationary fish. Essentially key in on objects that look out of place or are moving. Mullet will be olive to gray colored and stingrays will be tan to light brown in color. The color of redfish will vary, but shades of brownish-red to maroonish-red prevail.

Knowing where to look and how to look during the course of the day is key to successfully sight casting for redfish.