I have a particular fondness for fishing during the “off hours” and fishing areas “too shallow” to hold redfish. My friend and mentor, Capt. Scott Sparrow, turned me on to both ideas years ago. So, Sunday evening when I left the dock with my 14 year old daughter (Emma) and my oldest son (Capt. Truett Cawlfield) I was hopeful in spite of the wind and lack of sun (which would soon be setting anyway). I already new my destination and was emotionally settled by the fact that landing just one fish in the fading light of the evening would be worth this quick trip.
We made it to our backwater destination and came off plane in water too shallow by most people’s standards. All three of us immediately evacuated the boat with few words exchanged. We new what we had come looking for… We spread out up and down the shoreline. I eventually realized my children needed no help from me so I gave them room and ventured a little further from the boat.
So I have to tell you that there was nothing easy or immediately spectacular about the evening of fishing. We each stood in 5 inches of water and stared, and stared. And, with alot patience, we eventually saw what we expected…large redfish (in water to shallow to cover them entirely) with backs out of the water, chasing bait in the evening glow of the setting sun.
I was carrying a 6 wt. fly rod with a pink VIP (popper created by Sparrow). I spent the next few minutes making mediocre casts at three separate redfish and the only responses I got were blowups and redfish fleeing the scene of the crime. They knew I was there and I had pushed their levels of tolerance too far. These were mature, stealthy fish that would suffer no fool (me).
So, I stopped casting for a few minutes. I gathered my emotions. I thought a little about my casting and my fly placement. I put on a new fly (just to make myself feel better-it’s never the fly), a grizzly Seaducer. And then I waited. As the wind died and the water on the leeward side shoreline became smooth I began to see two redfish backs at a time. I could not really even shuffle my feet without annoying the fish into turning and swimming away so I just stood still. I had about 10 minutes before sunset and I knew I would have to fire up the Honda outboard and point the Stilt toward home shortly. At that moment one fish surfaced and swam down the shoreline at me. I knew this would be the last fish of the day. I centered myself, made one good cast, and the redfish obliged. This was the hardest fighting fish I have landed in some time. Which doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that one fish in the fading light of the evening can make all the difference…
Capt. Randy Cawlfield