Flats fishing also known as “shallow water angling” has become an exciting sport throughout the world. Anglers will fish in a shallow draft vessel called a flats skiff. These boats are strictly designed for easy maneuvering in skinny water by using a push pole or electric trolling motor. Generally one person will stand on a poling platform just above the motor. This will allow the person poling to steer the boat and also give them a better vantage point to see fish around the vessel. Anglers can stand on the bow and sight cast to cruising or stationary targets. There are a lot of fish that feed up shallow on mud flats and banks.
In Everglades National Park an angler may fish for half a dozen species in one area. Understanding what to look for and how to approach these shallow water fish will help your chances of catching them. Redfish are a popular fish in the backcountry. Reds have the ability to “tail”, when they feed. This reference means when they are searching the muddy bottom with there mouths there tails and backs will break the surface revealing where they are and helping anglers to sight cast. This is extremely exciting fishing.
Other fish that break the surface are Snook. Snook generally will cruise making a wake with there head and back. Tarpon will show fisherman a different scenario as they porpoise sticking there dorsal fin and back out of the water while they travel. Permit another keys favorite will show anglers there tails while digging for crabs in the bottom or even while they are underway. Bonefish work the shallows too and will tail during certain conditions. This is flats fishing. Fishing the shallows can be great fun for sure. The amazing thing about this unique style of angling might be the size of fish an angler can expect to run into. Tarpon well exceeding the 100 pound mark can be found in a foot and a half of water.
Fishing gear ranges from spin casting to fly. Many people enjoy fishing artificials along with saltwater fly patterns. Live bait is used frequently also. Surface plugs are very popular, mimicking wounded bait fish. The strikes are incredible. Since most species of saltwater flats dwellers are aggressive, the hook ups are explosive. Make sure you enjoy a day on the flats. You wont regret it.