The Tip of the Week Presented by Jackson Kayak
Hi, Low, and In-Between
Basic rigging for successful saltwater flats fishing
Words and photos by Jeff Herman
No matter how well you think you have a feeding pattern figured out, chances are it will change quickly. Accordingly, rig your rods to cover all possibilities. Three rods will do the trick. One rigged with a topwater, one rigged with a popping cork, and one ready with a weighted jig. This was my old tournament fishing set up and it is still how I search for fish when I am on new water.
Snook, reds, trout and flounder can all be had with one of these set ups. I start the day throwing tops usually. Tops are most effective for trout and snook and are pretty good for reds. Albeit, reds tend to submarine the lure as their downturned mouth makes it a more challenging strike for them. If you are dead set on red(s), consider using a subsurface lure such as a Mann’s Baby 1-Minus instead of the top water. Just getting a few inches down can increase the number of hook sets you get from reds. Flounder aren't really a topwater fish for obvious reasons, although it does happen occasionally.
If you move to deeper water and/or warmer water as the sun and temperature rise you can switch over to the popping cork. I like the popping cork rigged with a gulp. As a search bait this has auditory and olfactory appeal. The sound of the cork and the stink of the gulp are a good way to find deeper fish.
The plain-weighted jig is ideal for mid water column and bouncing on the bottom. Jigging the bay floor is the key ingredient if you specifically want to target flounder. Additionally, a jig will also snag plenty of reds, and snook.
Heading out to fish the flats with an arsenal of these three lures will get you on the road to a bent rod. Yes, you could just swap lures as you go on a rod or two, but I would much rather cast a lure out than stop fishing to tie one on my leader. If you are rigged for high, low and in-between, you will be ready for the fish regardless of where they are in the water column.