When the inland waters heat up, so does the redfish bite. West Coast Fl. redfish regs have stayed the same for several years. We can keep one redfish per day per angler. The red must measure between 18 in. and 27 in. from the tip of the nose to the tip of the pinched tail down the lateral line of the fish. Redfish are one of the most sought after salt water game fish in the South Eastern US. Tampa Bay/Bradenton might be the redfish capital of the world. We have huge schools of reds and even though they are smaller on the average than some other area’s such as: Titusville, Jacksonville, Panama City, Ga, La, Ms, Al, and the Carolina’s, they are very predictable and plentiful here. Yesterday on a charter with two anglers we caught over fifty reds and the average red was 27 in. We anchored up on a small cut, about 30 yds. wide 4 ft deep with thick eel grass and sand holes with mangroves lining the perimeter on each side of the cut. Other than this cut, all of the surrounding water for a quarter mile radius around us, was 1 ft deep and mostly less. We were on an extreme high slack tide with a slight in coming trickle. We were using chunked up thread fin herring about three fingers sized. We were free lining (no split shot, no jig head, no bobber) with 15 lb test yellow braided line with a 15 lb test mono (non-flouricarbon) leader and a 1.0 small diameter “J” hook. The bait was hooked in the thickest section of the thread fin chunk. we stuck the the point of the hook in the meat and up in the skin with only the point and barb exposed outside the skin (this holds the chunk on the hook better and is less likely to get picked off by pin fish, snapper, and catfish. We “scorched” the reds for two hours straight, but when the tide started ripping out, the bite shut off like a light. We got wise and put on split shots after noticing our baits were drifting back towards the boat. My boat was stationary with our Power Pole holding us down and a 15 knot wind at our backs with the current flowing directly into our bow. After putting on the split shots and stopping our baits from drifting, the bite turned right back on.
Red hot redfish theory:
Redfish get hot this time of year, so hot that they get lethargic. I’m convinced they get so over heated that they will rarely even expend the energy to chase a live bait fish or crab, even though they are very hungry. Redfish become vagabonds, scavengers, rooters, they will suck down almost any scrap they can smell or taste. They do have some eating standards, the meat should be fresh. Sometimes frozen works, but not like fresh bait fish, shrimp, or crabs. Another feeding standard is it must be cleared of weeds. If you don’t remove every strand of weed from your bait before recasting, you’ll rarely get a bite. We never see any weeds in the reds stomachs when we clean them for table fare.
Red hot redfish tips:
* Chum a lot – Because the redfish are lethargic and not chasing bait, they are hungry. When you chum them they are so ravenous that it is real hard to over feed them, they are like puppies who will keep eating until you think they’ll explode. They will hoard and seize the opportunity of the easy feed.
* Locate, retain, maintain – Chum live and dead bait. Chum some live baits first. It gets the reds in the mood and they start getting “jiggy”, you start seeing a few swirls and some skipping/jumping bait fish, that tells you the reds are there. Then chum with chunks of cut bait. This will keep the reds there and feeding. Every once in a while throw out another bat full of live ones, just to keep the reds in their instinctive hunt mode.
* Don’t be spooky – Chum live (uncrippled) baits only, if seagulls are hovering. Uncrippled bait fish, will hit the water and dive down out of sight of the hovering seagulls, where a chummed crippled bait or cut bait my hang on the surface long enough to make that hovering gull swoop down. Redfish don’t like birds. Their fear of birds started at birth. The first several months of their lives where spent dodging birds all day everyday. Just the shadow of a seagull can spook a large school of reds. Redfish don’t like rap music or any rapping on the boat. You can talk as loud as you want, but don’t beat on the boat or cause any vibration. Sometimes even a loud vibrating live well pump or bilge pump can spook em.
To book a trip with Ana Banana Fishing Company call 813-267-4401 or visit www.anabananafishing.com . Ask about the hook n cook special @ Hooks Bar and Grill located at Little Harbor Resort. Ana Banana will hook em! Hooks will cook em!