Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Outdoors

Captains Corner: Live baits working on large redfish schools

What's hot: Redfish schools have invaded the flats around Pinellas Point. On a low tide in the morning, I look for a school on an outer sand bar. These fish are staged on the edge waiting for the tide to come in. Once the water level rises, the fish move further onto the flat closer to the shoreline with mangroves and oyster bars.

Bait: I start early and throw a 12-foot cast net under one of the many bridges. I pick the brightest light and throw on the down-current side. The net will sink quickly away from the pilings, preventing it from getting caught. Usual catches are scaled sardines, threadfins and pinfish. Terns and seagulls have learned to look for boats. I stopped throwing live-bait chum because the birds have been so relentless in stealing bait. Once terns start diving into the water, they spook the reds and other game fish.

Tactics: I like to use a 2/0 circle hook for reds. Redfish have thick skin around the mouth; this allows the circle hook to grab the corner once the line is tightened. Do not set the hook, let the fish pull tight and just start to reel. The hook will set itself. If you set the hook, you will pull the hook out of the fish's mouth because of the bend on the point. It needs to work its way into the mouth before any hook set.

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

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