Saltwater fishermen are plenty familiar with schools of red drum in the shallows of coastal marshes that get spooky because of fishing pressure and clear water.

Instead of dealing with them, guide Noah Lynk of Noah’s Ark Guide Service in Harkers Island, N.C., goes surfing. He beaches his boat on the back side of narrow barrier islands and crosses the sand or beaches it in the surf on calmer days and goes looking for reds in the suds.

They’re in the surf because there’s food there and the water is likely to be warmer in the ocean than the backwaters.

They’ll bite, Lynk said, “because they’re hungry.

“They’ll be right in the surf, because there will be little crabs and little baitfish there,” he said. “I tell people to get a good pair of polarized sunglasses because the water is clear and you can often see the schools.”

Lynk (252-342-6911) said he’ll use spinning tackle and soft-plastic baits threaded onto 1/4- to 3/8-ounce jigheads for better casting distance. 

“Soft-plastics like Gulp, soft MirrOlures and Salty Bay Baits will work. You need to go slow, real slow,” he said.

Lynk looks for reds moving up and down the beach, either in front of or behind the first sandbar. Most of the time he’s casting directly out into the surf, but once in a while, he’ll cast diagonally if he sees reds coming from either direction in order to lead them with his bait.