In my limited experience, the easiest way to catch a redfish is at low tide, casting to pods of cruising fish in relatively shallow, but too deep to stand in, water. It's still not easy, but if you get your fly in front of the cruising pod, strip it properly and the fish are in the mood to eat, you stand a decent chance at a hookup. The most exciting way to catch a redfish, however, is casting to single, sighted fish in the shallows on a flood tide. If you've ever stalked redfish this way, scouting for tails, doing your best to determine where the plucky red you're targeting will be looking when you hurriedly toss your best cast in its direction, you know that eats don't come easily. Redfish can be choosy eaters, and the conditions can be difficult.
Redfish gorge on shrimp in muddy shallows outside Charleston, South Carolina (photo: Doug Roland).
Given such, the idea of catching redfish on a popper seems wholly unlikely, if not ridiculous. As it turns out, it's not, as guides and South Carolina redfish junkies Owen Plair and Harry Tomlinson recently showed. Word is, when redfish are gorging on shrimp in the autumn shallows, choosiness goes right out the window and they'll eat just about anything. And, not only will they take a popper, they'll take one fashioned out of a wine cork.
Perhaps it should come as no surprise. Not long ago I learned that, despite a typical of salmon fishing featuring countless casts and swings only to turn up nothing more than a few tugs, even salmon can be caught on poppers when the conditions are right. So why not redfish?