The flood tides of the Lowcountry are holding plenty of tailing redfish, even though the hottest part of tailing season has not quite arrived. And nothing catches those tailing fish better than flies like the Balsa Wood Shrimp that Capt. John Irwin is fishing all over the place right now.
Irwin operates Fly Right Charters (843-860-4231) and fishes all over the Lowcountry, but lately, he’s been found most often on a flooded flat of spartina grass in the Charleston area, scouring the surface for signs of a redfish looking for an easy meal.
And when Irwin spots those fish, he offers them an easy meal with the imitation shrimp he began making after watching other anglers tie flies for largemouth bass. The balsa shrimp fly has a wooden head with a cupped face, which produces a popping sound when twitched. A feathery shrimp body completes the fly.
Irwin said that this time of year, with fewer and smaller shrimp around than there will be in a month or two, anglers don't need to fish these types of lures fast.
"Especially at high tide in the grass when you can see them in the water, you pop it a couple of times, and the fish come cruising up underneath it, and they'll sit there and stare at it, and a lot of times, they'll hit it when it's sitting perfectly still," he said.
The exception, according to Irwin, is when redfish appear to be on a heavy feeding frenzy. In that case, he and his clients will pop the lure a lot. And when the fall influx of shrimp arrives, popping the lure a lot will do the trick, especially at low tide.
For now, Irwin is perfectly content to target tailing fish in the grass with popping flies.
"Those tailing fish, especially the ones in the grass, they'll just mow that thing down when you give it a couple of pops and then let it sit still," he said.