by Capt. Erick Despirt - Reel Cranking Charters
One of the great things about redfish -- other than the fact they taste great, put up an amazing fight and are beautiful looking fish -- is that you can find them year round in good numbers and size. Of course there are times that are better than others; when they are in bigger numbers and are larger. The summer can be a tough time of the year to catch fish but its one of my favorite times to fish for redfish.
The first thing to watch for is the tide.
Specifically, for high tides that are two feet or higher. This allows the reds to get up under the mangroves where they are more protected, out of the heat, and have a large abundance of ambush points. The high water allows the fish to get deep into the mangroves. This can make those deep-seated fish difficult to get to the edge to eat bait. The best way to get these fish to come out from this hiding place is all about the bait.
This leads me to the second key to getting redfish out from under the mangroves.
My bait of choice is dead pinfish, though cut mullet and ladyfish will also work, but I prefer pinfish. The size of the bait can vary; if you have large pinfish, simply cut them into strips. If only small palm size bait or smaller are available, cut the tail off , put a slit in its side and crush the head. The key is getting the scent as far under the mangroves as possible to the waiting fish. Bloody and smelly bait is a must in this scenario.
When fishing with clients or speaking at seminars about beating the bushes, I am frequently asked how I pick spots to cast to and how close the bait need to be. This is not a simple task. Some of it comes from time on the water and a lot of trial and error. Let me answer the question of how close does the bait need to be, which will lead me into how to pick a place to cast to. The bait needs to be as absolutely as close as you can get it or under the mangroves. The closer to the fish you can get the bait the better your results will be. Even when you're getting as close to the bushes as possible you are still depending on the scent of the bait to draw them to what you are offering, so when working a mangrove edge, I look for places that have cuts, openings that allow me to cast, or in most cases spots where I can skip baits deep into. I also like the mangroves to come in and out and have points and creek mouths. I find these much more productive then simple straight shorelines.
Something that I have noticed over the years of fishing this way is that -- more often than not -- as long as the tide is moving it doesn't matter what the conditions are. I have hammered them in all kinds of weather; windy, sunny, high pressure, low pressure and no wind. It doesn't seem to matter. Now don't misunderstand there are still days that are far better than others but it is much different than when they are on the open flat.
Last but not least there is the tackle selection. I say this depends entirely on you and your skill level. If you are looking for a bit of a challenge then go light, but if you don't deal with losing fish well, then heavier tackle will be a better fit. I use seven-foot medium action St Croix Avids with 3000 Daiwa Ballistics. For line and leader I am throwing 10 pound test Fins PRT and 20 pound test Seaguar fluorocarbon with a 1/0 Trokar hook. Your tackle selection is entirely up to you. There is no right or wrong, per say, but I recommend something that you can cast accurately. Be sure to bring plenty of hooks cause if you're not hooking the bushes you're not fishing close enough!
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