What to find: Extreme high tides during the next new and full moon phases are perfect times to target red drum. Red drum love to lurk around mangrove islands and oyster beds. During normal tidal conditions these areas are void of water and unreachable. But when the tides are higher — only in summer — it's time to take advantage. Begin by checking local tide tables and selecting days with the highest tide levels. Look for flood tides 21/2 to 3 feet above mean low water. Since reds are skittish to begin with, bait presentation is important with either natural or artificial bait. Typically, reds move with their nose into the wind or current. Cast the offering well in front of the pack and let them come to it.
Tactics: Preferred techniques include dead bait on the bottom, live bait under floats and soft plastic jigs. For bottom fishing, use fresh cut mullet, ladyfish, or greenbacks with 1/0 or 2/0 hooks. Circle and J-hooks both work. Reds feed with their noses to the bottom and it won't take long for things to heat up. Corking live sardines, greenbacks or small pinfish works as well. Again, use 1/0 or 2/0 hooks and hook the baitfish through the pectoral fins. Use weighted floats to aid casting. Light one-eighth ounce and lighter jig heads with split soft plastic tails attached are very effective for prowling reds. Root beer or new penny are prime color choices.
Rick Frazier runs Lucky Dawg Charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 510-4376.