Last Updated on September 13, 2009 by Capt. Jason
I love fishing for redfish. They are tough fighters and quite often willing participants in our fishing adventures. However, summertime can be very frustrating when targeting them here on the Suncoast. They seem to vanish at the drop of a hat and when you do have a good bead on their location they often seem disinterested in our offerings. So, many times during the summer we’ll go “catching” instead of “fishing” on my charters; as long as my clients are so inclined. We’ll go after mackerel, trout, snapper, grouper and the like first and then after we’ve caught tons of those we’ll go try to get some redfish. Many times the redfish thing doesn’t work out because not only are they tough to get in the heat of summer but we’ll have spent the best part of the tide chasing after other fish.
Today was different. I could feel a light nip in the air as if Fall was giving us a preview of the weather to come soon. So I decided we’d go after reds first and only try to go “catching” if the redfish didn’t pan out. So, we left the dock at about 6:45 A.M. to go get bait. I had a couple of my regular clients on the boat, Ben and Phil and they were excited when I told them it was time to start going after reds again. Bait wasn’t as easy as it has been but it wasn’t to hard to get either and by 7:30am we headed off on our hunt for reds in September.
The tide was an hour into ripping out already and you could practically watch the water level dropping as the 15knt NE wind helped it leave. The first spot we tried is pretty shallow at high tide so when I got there and assessed the situation, I opted for leaving after 5 minutes instead of being stuck for 5 hours. So we headed South a few miles and hit a spot that has always produced well for me in the fall. I immediately started feeling good about the spot when I could see hundreds of mullet jumping from 500 yards away. This spot usually rocks when the tide is leaving and the mullet are home.
We slowly trolled towards the mullet schools and it wasn’t long before I started seeing reds mixed in. We anchored up, threw out some chummers and a few minutes later I heard the first sound of a redfish crushing a sardine. Game on! Baits hit the water and shortly after, lines were singing. We didn’t kill the fish today because the leaving tide chased us off the flat but we did get some great redfish and Ben and Phil were ready for them. They’ve had their fill of snapper, mackerel and tout from their last 3 summer charters and they were all smiles with the 6-9lb reds we got on today.
Fall is coming. You can feel it in the air. All those fish that have been turning their noses up at you during the heat of summer are about to go on the hunt and it’s your time to hammer them. Start looking for them in the shallows now. They are there. Look for mullet schools and work them slowly. Topwater plugs like the Top Dog by Mirr-O-Lure will produce early in the morning and then switch to weightless soft plastic stick baits later in the day. If you’re using natural baits, sardines are still king. They aggressively hit the freebies I threw out today so I know they’ll chase them down on your hook. Good luck and leave some out there for me!