It’s True: You can Catch Reds in the Surf on Fly

This post is submitted by Mike Hodge

I admit it. I love redfish. Pictures of them adorn my living room wall and kitchen. It doesn’t matter where or when, I will try to find them.
I’ve caught them on the flats and in the river; on high tide and low tide; in spartina grass and turtle grass. Last summer, redfish in the surf on fly became my focus.
I heard rumors of redfish on the Northeast Florida beaches for years, but most of my buddies scoffed at the notion of fishing for reds in the surf. But as it turns out, redfish do indeed make their way to the surf and yes you can catch them on fly.
It’s not easy, but, if the conditions are right and the stars align, it’s very doable.

 James Ferguson battles a red in the surf.   (Photo: Andrew Mizell)
James Ferguson battles a red in the surf. (Photo: Andrew Mizell)

Most of the Northeast Florida beaches, from Fernandina to Flagler, from Matanzas Inlet to Little Talbot Island, hold reds at some point during the years. It’s matter of identifying the right conditions.
The good thing is you don’t need a boat. Grab a rod, a reel, a small backpack for the essentials — a bottle of water is highly recommended — and you’re good to go.
Chances are, you will cover a fair amount of ground walking the beach, so a good, low-impact workout is guaranteed, and with a little luck, you will find a fish or two along the way.
Try to find a fairly secluded beach near an inlet. Fish a low incoming tide on a sunny day. Watch closely as water fills the sloughs. Baitfish will sometimes show first, followed by the reds and jacks. Fish a Clouser with the sun at your back and keep your eyes open.
It takes a little legwork, but when you hook a beach red, you will be rewarded. Just ask for James Ferguson or John Bottko at the Blackfly Outfitter in Jacksonville. Stop by and we’ll set you up with accurate information and the right gear.

— Mike Hodge

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