With Halloween coming up, I’ve been looking for a costume resembling one of my favorite science fiction characters: the Gill Man.
The Gill Man was featured in a trilogy of movies in the 1950s: “Creature from the Black Lagoon,” “Revenge of the Creature” and “The Creature Walks Among Us.”
He was an amphibious humanoid that can live on land or in water and had a strong attraction to good-looking human women.
In the first two movies, the female abducted by the Gill Man was rescued by a handsome leading man. In the third film, the leading man was David Niven, so the gal sticks with the Gill Man instead.
The success of the “creature” series led to many more movies about water-based monsters.
And we have real-life monsters roaming our marshes. Redzilla — large redfish that terrorize baitfish, shrimp and crabs — are among us.
That is, until a fly angler comes to save the day and catches the Creature of the Marsh Lagoon.
Here’s the best part: You can be that hero.
All you need is a strategy and the right setup.
As the first major cool fronts of the season move through this month, they’ll push out the high water of late summer and give way to exposed banks and flats.
From now through December, and even into January, is prime time for sight-casting opportunities.
But you want to avoid those windy days just prior to or after a frontal passage and concentrate on the second or third day after a front.
On these low-tide days, you’ll find the Spottail Elvis feeding in skinny water, especially on a rising tide. Just look for backs and tails.
Having the right equipment is necessary. Just about everybody recommends 7-weight through 9-weight rods and lines. If you’re going after the 15-plus pound bulls, you’ll need at least an 8-weight.
Otherwise, go with a rod you can cast all day without fatigue and helps you make more accurate casts.
As for leaders, simple is always better. You have two options.
The first is a store-bought tapered knotless leader. If you’re a newbie, I suggest going this route.
I like to cut a foot off each end and add 2 feet of 14-pound mono or fluoro to the tippet end. This gives me a lighter leader that doesn’t require as much stretching. I want the action of the fly to be under my control, not by a kinky leader.
Your second option is to build your own leader. This is what I do most often, again because I like light leaders. As you become more experienced, you’ll get an idea of what leader length and section sizes you feel most comfortable with.
Cormier’s 2nd Law of Fly Fishing states, “Casting prowess equals fishing success.”
Let me interpret that another way: If you’re not a good caster, sightfishing reds under any conditions is going to be tough.
As I found out some 30 years ago, you can be a good caster in freshwater and not be “saltwater capable.”
Here’s how to find out if you’re ready for redfish: Scatter a few plastic plates on a grass yard, ranging out to 60 feet, and then try to hit each plate with no more than two false casts.
You don’t have to hit each plate each time with the fly, but you need to be close — not several feet off or more. Also, it’s always better to be short than long; a “lined” fish is a spooked fish.
One question most asked about redfish is about fly selection. Thankfully, fall redfish tend to be opportunistic. That means they’ll eat just about any fly thrown their way, as long as it has the appearance of a shrimp, crab or baitfish.
In fall and winter, I love poppers. They might not be as effective as spoon flies, charlies or crab flies, but the sight of a poisson rouge sticking its head out the water and slurping one makes for a most-memorable experience.
There are two types of surface flies I carry in my salt box: short poppers such as Pete’s Perch Float Popper or Dinks, and long poppers such as Pencil Poppers, Skipping Bugs or Rainey’s Bubblehead Popper.
I know everyone these days loves Crease Flies because they’re easier to cast. But the poppers I use push more water. Put any type of surface fly in a red’s face and they’ll eat, but if your cast is off a few feet, the popper will get their attention.
A bonus is that many small redfish flies — particularly Charlies — are also effective for drum and sheepshead, two species that share the confines of the red creatures.
Enjoy the cool days and low tides.