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Captain’s Corner: Redfish schools coming into the flats

By Rob Gorta, Times Correspondent

Redfish schools have started to invade the flats. They have seemed to pass up the Skyway bridge area and head into upper Tampa Bay. I start early in the morning by throwing my 12-foot custom cast net under one of the many bridges. I pick the brightest light and throw on the downcurrent side. The net sinks quickly away from the pilings, preventing it from getting caught on the bridge. Scaled sardines, threadfins, pinfish and Spanish sardines have all been caught in the net. Using a large cast net fills the livewell quickly. Spend a little extra money on a quality cast net; they open up perfectly and sink fast to trap bait on the bottom. After the livewell is full, I head up in the bay. There is usually a low tide in the morning, so I look for reds around the outer sandbars. These fish are staged on the edge waiting for the tide to come in. Once the water level rises, the fish move onto the flat. When that school slows down, and the tide is high, I will go to my next area where I can find oyster bars and mangroves. I like to use a 2/0 circle hook when targeting reds. They have thick skin around their mouth; this allows the circle hook to grab the corner once the line is tightened. Donít set the hook, let the fish pull tight and just start to reel. The hook will set itself.

Rob Gorta charters out of St. Petersburg. Call him at (727) 647-7606 or visit captainrobgorta.com.