Fly Fishing For Redfish In Tampa Bay

Redfish are available year-round in Tampa Bay. The best time for fly- or sight-fishing for Redfish is from fall through spring. As the water temperature cools the water clarity improves, the turtle grass on the flats start to thin out and shorten in length. Winter provides super low tides, offering great tailing-redfish opportunity.

I really enjoy this type of fishing, and Tampa Bay has so many different types of spots to fish Redfish. We have large Bayou systems and endless turtle grass flats, oyster bars and residential docks, but my favorite is to fish them over the sand. It is very similar to Bonefish fishing in the Keys. In fact, I have been told that in years past many anglers would come to Tampa Bay in the winter to practice for the bone fish in the keys in the spring.

The fish will sit or slowly cruise as singles or small pods, and as the weather changes they will school up and travel. The Redfish average from 18-26 inches but we catch several fish over 30 inches each year. To date the largest Redfish caught on fly on my boat is 37 ½ inches.  It was a big fish!

You can Redfish from the boat or wade. Each has its time to shine. When you have overcast skies you can still find success by blind casting but it is not the preferred method.

Fly Tackle:

  • 6-9 weight Rods
  • Floating: Floating with clear sink tip, and intermediate Line

Tailing Redfish on low incoming water at first light is a beautiful thing.

You should experience it.

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A large variety of flies will work. You really want to match your fly to the bottom structure you’re fishing. If you’re fishing over sand you want a weighted fly that will “puff the sand.” When you get over the grass flats you need to have either a great weed guard( which never really works) or you need to fish above it. Bait fish, shrimp and crab patterns all work well.

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Scientific Anglers