When the weather returns to 65 degrees and sunshine in a few days, fishermen will have another chance to tackle big schools of redfish that are crushing baits in the backcountry waters around Georgetown, and Capt. Tommy Scarborough of Georgetown Coastal Adventures will be hitting the water every chance he gets.

“Redfish are smoking it right now,” said Scarborough (843-546-3543). “The cold water temperatures have gotten these fish into their big winter schools.” 

With nothing to eat in main creeks and bays and having become the No. 1 target of porpoises, reds have learned to avoid deep waters, congregating in schools triple-digit in size deep in the marsh, out of range of most potential dangers – but not far away from Scarborough and other captains with shallow-drift skiffs.

But it’s a slightly different breed of lure that has been rewarding Scarborough with consistent catches over the typical scented soft plastics and large chunks of natural bait in the super-clear water.

“Since the fish’s metabolism has slowed significantly, redfish are making a living off the few crabs they are able to suck off oyster beds or the tiny grass shrimp floating in the creek,” he said. “Reds are not looking for such a big hunk of bait as they would during other parts of the year. Downsize and you will get more strikes.”

When using frozen shrimp or mullet, he recommends using small chunks about the size of a thumbnail. While natural bait is producing, his fly-fishing anglers are having elevated success with the soft, gentle presentation of a hand-tied creation.

“The flies are working great under these conditions, because the flies I am throwing are just a hair bigger than the grass shrimp in the creek right now,” he said. “The soft landing and gentle nature of our flies are just what these fish are looking for.”

Scarborough’s anglers are bringing fish to the boat by using two of his custom favorites: Boyden’s Gold Digger Crab and Captain Tommy’s Golden Prawn. Reds are keying in on the gentle swimming action of these crab and shrimp imitations laced with gold and tan material. 

“We have put over a year in development of these flies and have finally put together a couple of flies that are now my absolute favorites for redfish,” he said.

The soft and gentle presentation of the fly can get a stubborn fish to eat. Over the winter, the big schools of reds will get to see lots of baits and lures. And the gentle presentation of the fly is irresistible to the skittish reds in the back country.

Between the sunny skies and spring-like temperatures, fishermen finally have to contend with some chilly weather conditions. But have no fear, it will be sunny and 65 in no time at all with huge schools of reds ready to take small baits and homemade creations from the vice.