Redfish are ready. Although the weather of late hasn't indicated any sign of changing seasons, the redfish in our region are definitely ahead of schedule. Several nice schools of redfish have moved on to area flats over the last week and are actively feeding. The schools I have found have been ranging in size from 10 to 100 fish, with most of the fish falling in the slot with some big over slot fish mixed in as well.
When do they bite? Most of our success has come targeting these fish on the higher parts of the tide and on the outside of the bars. Working the "broken" bottom where the grass and sand seem to mix like Swiss cheese has been the key, and also allows you to pick up some nice trout and snook along the way. The fish have been spooky though, so quiet approaches are a must.
Bait. Fortunately for us, the redfish have been feeding very aggressively and bait size and species has not been a big issue. The fish we've caught over the last few days have come on whitebait of all sizes and small to medium sized pinfish as well. Rigging the baits under a cork with 20-pound fluorocarbon and a 1/0 circle hook has yielded the best results. The amount of leader under your cork should be determined by the depth of water you are fishing. If you are in 4 feet of water, then you want roughly 3 feet of line below your cork so your bait can swim down but not bury itself in the grass.
Matt Santiago can be reached at (813) 205-2327 or [email protected] or online at FishingGuideTampa.com.