My first summer back in the USA has been great. I’m not quite in my permanent residence, but I have found a new home. Being back in Florida and getting to explore the state and the different fisheries it offers with old friends and some new ones has been fun. The one thing I haven’t done yet is purchase a skiff. It will happen soon but so far my fishing has been mostly with wading boots.
My wading gear with a box full of Pine Island flies for a high water/grassy situation.
The flies worked!
A great way to learn some new areas and fish them thoroughly, wading opens up shallow flats fishing to anglers without a skiff, or if you own a boat not made for the skinny water. In the past few months I have had opportunities to fish Mosquito Lagoon, Turtle Bay, Pine Island, Tampa Bay, Flamingo and the Keys. I have waded them all. Some of them have been deep, some shallow, some are soft mud flats and a few are hard sandy flats. But for the most part they can all be “No skiff required” fisheries. Lately the fly rods have been my weapons of choice for wading the flats and it has been excellent.
There are some essentials you need to carry, but for the most part I explore the shallows with a very small amount of gear. The main thing is understanding what you are targeting and the conditions in that particular area. I have a small fly box that I equip for the area I will be wading that day. Some pliers, leader and snips are pretty much all I carry along with my polarized glasses and wading boots.
A school of Bonefish approaches…
I usually smash the barbs on the flies I tie, so instead of pliers, some forceps clipped to my shirt work as a de-hooker and sometimes a waterproof camera in a pocket. That’s about it. When i’m filling my fly box I look at a few things that make up the fishing spot I’ll be on; is there grass/oysters or is it a sandy bottom, what species am I targeting, the wind strength, will I need weed-guards on the flies and what is the tide doing?
A nice little Bonefish while out wading alone.
You don’t want to wade a new flat at low tide and later realize you will be swimming to shore. If you plan on being out all day, some way to carry water is a must. After your gear and flies are ready its time to get wet. Make sure to do the old Stingray shuffle to avoid the spiny flat guys hiding under the sand and keep an eye out for the occasional shark swimming around and you should have a great day stalking some fish. Good Luck and Tightlines!