October marks the turn of Fall and the start of the Holiday season. As grocery stores and empty corner lots are stocking pumpkin’s – so are the shallows around Tampa Bay. It’s Redfish time! Despite our recent Red Tide events this Summer, I am happy to report that we have been finding good numbers of fish in large schools throughout the bay.
We have been targeting these fish a few different ways depending on the tide. On the higher water, we are fishing deep mangrove shorelines and sandy coves along the flats. A live Pinfish is the bait of choice and I prefer to free line for fishing under the cover or use a float to work the bait along the bushes. In most cases you can go up a touch on your leader size to aid in keeping the fish away from obstructions. 30lb usually does the trick but there are times that I will go up to 40lb to put some heat on the fish.
On the low tides is where most of the magic happens and definitely my favorite. This is the time of day when the fish will get pushed off the shallow flats and group up in the troughs and ditches waiting for the tide to come back up. At times, it can be like catching fish in a barrel as they are a lot easier to locate. The best advise I can give is look for mullet. Redfish will not be far away. Look for nervous water or white wash from groups of fish pushing and feeding on the flats. Birds are also a great resource in locating the schools. They will be attracted to the feeding frenzy. Once you locate them, approach is everything. One tip to remember is always keeping the wind at your back. Even if it means making a large loop or re-positioning yourself. It will pay dividends in the end. This will enable you to make very long casts and also make it possible to drift into the fish if needed. Try to make casts ahead of the school if they are moving and let the fish come to the/through the bait. This will decrease the risk of spooking the school and not getting a hook-up. When they are on the move and eating, it can be beneficial to tie on an artificial bait as opposed to natural baits. You will be able to get quick casts off without having to worry about putting a bait on or throwing it off. My go-to is a DOA CAL Jig in #313 Gold Glitter paired with a ¼ oz jig head. If they are just not into eating the jigs, a live or cut pinfish with usually do the trick.
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