By Capt. Terry Lacoss –
Selecting the proper fishing tackle, lures and employing the proper retrieve are key when targeting redfish holding at a variety of saltwater habitats. Read my ten top redfish tactics.
During the early days of red fishing the #1 redfish tactic included fishing dead on the bottom with heavy terminal fishing tackle and a large chunk of cut bait barbed to a stout saltwater hook. The only redfish tactic here was anchoring your boat properly so that your cut baits were fished perfectly in front of the school of redfish.
Through recent years red bass fishermen have been finding that casting a variety of lures offers more of a challenge and satisfaction too. Of course it also helped when high dollar red fish tournaments became popular, ultimately raising the level of interest and competition too. Today there are numerous fishing rods and reels designed specifically for targeting redfish. Also include fishing boats that are designed specifically for red fishing and a wide variety of hard baits and soft plastics too. While having fished from coastal North Carolina to coastal Texas for redfish, I have come up with ten top redfish tactics that catch redfish time and time again.
1. Rod Combo
I would recommend a 7 – 7 ½ foot spinning rod with a medium heavy butt section and a medium light tip for making long casts and giving life to your redfish lures. A 4000 size spinning reel filled with 15-pound moss colored braided line allows for long casts when paired with a 7 ½ foot spinning rod. By attaching a three-foot section of twenty-pound fluorocarbon shock leader, you now have the capability of fishing a variety of lures with the same fishing rod and reel. Always use a loop knot when attaching your lure to the shock leader.
2. Polling the flats
When approaching shallow water redfish always keep the sun on your back, wear amber lens sunglasses, pole by employing short strokes that do not cause a boat wake and when using an electric trolling motor, keep the power on low and do not allow the propeller to make contact with the bottom. Be quite! Avoid talking loud and slamming boat lids.
3. Wading the flats
When redfish are super spooky, power pole down, or anchor your redfish skiff and wade. When you are wading you will more than likely walk right on to a hard bottom which is great structure for holding flood tide redfish.
4. Flood Tides
Redfish are more active during a flood tide when saltwater covers shallow water structure such as oyster bars, grass flats and spartina marshes. Cast a ½ oz. gold Johnson spoon using a steady retrieve and when there is plenty of bait fish activity work a Rapala “Skitter Walk” in the mullet color pattern.
5. School Fish
If redfish are schooling tight together like sardines, they are in their protective mode and more than likely will not eat. Don’t waist a lot of time trying to catch redfish that won’t eat. Instead search for a second school that finds redfish swimming in all different directions. These reds are eating!
6. Falling Tide
During a falling tide when redfish are migrating to the deep edge of a flat use a search method of red fishing by employing long casts with a ½ oz. Johnson gold spoon, or in line spinner with a gold blade and white and chartreuse skirt.
7. Low Tide
Low tide typically finds redfish relocating to the deep edges of a flat, boat dock, oyster bar, grass flat, or sandbar. Time and time again low tide redfish will hold on these same low tide structures. Fish dead on the bottom with a ¼ oz. Jig head rigged with a 3-inch Berkley Gulp shrimp in the “New Penny” color pattern. In my home waters of Amelia Island Florida, redfish will often school at the deep end of boat docks that are located on large oyster laden mud flats. Here redfish are simply using the boat dock as a migration route and ambush point during low tide when a variety of forage foods concentrate at the very end of the boat dock.
8. Moving Location
A good rule of thumb for the amount of time spent at one particular redfish structure without uncovering a school of redfish, is fifteen minutes. Then move to another nearby redfish structure if redfish are not located. In many cases that school of redfish has simply relocated to a nearby structure.
9. Sharpening Hooks
I recommend having on your fishing belt a pair of Gerber multiple purpose fishing pliers and using the file to sharpen your redfish hooks. Most jig hooks have a long skinny point that may bend when attempting to penetrate the tough mouth of a redfish. Here I will triangulate the point of the hook with the file, creating a shorter, stronger and sharper hook.
10. Watching the Tides
My final redfish tip includes keeping up dated with current tide levels. Day in and day out redfish are certainly very predictable and will show up at one of their favorite structures according to a particular tide phase. Long before I launch my Mercury powered Triton bay boat I will have planned my day of red fishing around the tides. At my office I will go to www.tidesonline.com and while out on the water I will use my Lowrance HDS-7 to keep me up dated on current tide levels. Make sure that you arrive at your targeted redfish habitat just before the tide is right so that you are power poled down and ready for action when that school of redfish shows up right on time and on the tide.
Amazingly redfish are now Florida’s most popular game fish and have increased their numbers to one of the Southeast’s most influential game fish due to excellent fish management programs.
About: Capt. Terry Lacoss/ Amelia Angler