Fishing the Fall Transition: A Skinny-Water Redfish Story

We have stumbled upon a place. It's not entirely unknown, but it doesn't attract too much attention. We've learned that we can't abuse it, or visit regularly. But if we're patient and pay attention to the cues, she abides. Two falls in a row we've had two of the best fishing days of our lives here. This is a story about the most recent.

One thing that has remained consistent over the years is my love for chasing Speckled Trout. October marks a transition time in Virginia Beach. We see the days get shorter, the air get crisper, and the water temperature starts to drop. All of this usually coincides with an aggressive Speckled Trout bite...usually.

This past October was filled with humidity, varying wind directions, and stable warm water temperatures. The Speckled Trout were here, but with such varying conditions it was hard to find a consistent bite.

In order to change up my luck and hopefully find a better bite, I decided it was time to leave Virginia Beach and head elsewhere.

Speckled Trout from our trip to this spot in 2019

I couldn't make the plan without reaching out to Nick, who I knew had been eager to fish. With minimal effort convincing, Nick was in.

We decided to meet at the same spot that we did the previous October, where we had one of the best kayak fishing outings I've ever had.

(See previous blog, "Breaking the Golden Rule”).

This year we were looking at an early morning falling tide and light winds forecasted to ramp up by late morning, so we decided to meet at the boat ramp a couple hours before sunrise in order to maximize our time in favorable conditions.

The next morning, I pulled up to the boat ramp in the dark and saw Nick with his kayak already on the ground briskly walking back and forth from his car loading up gear. The pace of his walk let me know that he was jacked up to fish and helped me shed some of the grogginess that plagued me during the drive.

When I get out of my truck, I am greeted with unseasonal humidity, mosquitos, and a heavily caffeinated “Yeewww!” from Nick. “These mosquitos suck,” he says during his final lap loading up his kayak.

I quickly load up my kayak and we launch. Once we make it around the breakwater, the breeze hits us and keeps the mosquitos at bay. We navigated to the spot we fished last year and set up in slightly different positions to account for the falling tide.

Using a channel marker and the reflection from our headlamps on the sign marking the oyster bed near shore, we drop our anchors and start fishing.

Nick has one spinning rod with him and one fly rod with him. Knowing that he is going to favor his fly rod and that this is his first time using it in his kayak, I keep a watchful eye on the unfolding situation.

This is mainly so I can make fun of the inevitable mess that will undoubtedly ensue. He ties on a small grey and white clouser, one of the all around best saltwater flies, and successfully makes a few casts without getting anything tangled, “yup, that’ll do pig” he says to me.

I have two spinning rods and one baitcasting rod all setup with some of the best Speckled Trout lures. One spinning rod is rigged up with a Mirrolure MR27 and the other has a Z-Man 4 inch jerk shad with a weighted swimbait hook.

My baitcaster has a Heddon One-Knocker topwater lure on it. Even though visibility is still tough, I cast the topwater lure first, and pay close attention to the “click-clack-click-clack” sound of the lure as I walk it back and forth on the surface of the water.

Much to my surprise, the lure returns to my kayak without a respectable sized Speckled Trout on it. Several more casts turn in the same results.

As the sunlight starts to poke over the horizon, I hear the smacks of Speckled Trout attacking bait on the surface of the water and I can hear Nick talking shit to those same trout. Not too long after the verbal assault and switching to the Mirrolure MR27, I hook up to a couple small fish.

I’m happy to get the skunk off our backs, but still not what we were hoping to find. A few casts later Nick gets on the board with a nicer fish, but still missing the mark from last year. We try to reposition ourselves a few times to fish different depths, bottom, and structure, but yield the same results. On top of that, the wind was picking up quicker than forecasted.

Nick decided to make a move to a shallow creek nearby that looked to have wind protection, and some crabbers said they saw a school of red drum earlier in the morning. Skeptical of the crabbers and slightly frustrated, I stay put hoping my luck will change.