What's hot: Redfish have bunched into schools along the south shoreline of Tampa Bay. These schools have reached numbers that make the water around you look red; some schools hold as many as 100 redfish. If one redfish is spooked, the entire school will disperse and slowly gather back up. This is where patience pays off. A school of redfish, once it's found, is there for a reason: food. They will return to that spot, it just takes time — five minutes to sometimes 30, which seems like an eternity to wait for them while you remain still and quiet.
Techniques: This is a great time of year to try catching a redfish on a fly. Wait for the school to show itself and gently lay a crab/shrimp imitation or flyspoon right at them. Flies can be gently placed; spinning gear and lures will spook the school. Spinning gear should be cast near the outer edge on the side that the school is moving toward. Wait for the school, then work the lure.
Tips: Early morning is the best time, regardless of tidal movement. Tide height will determine where the school is, timing will determine water temperature when anglers look for hungry redfish. For spinning gear, use soft plastics with a lot of scent fished slowly on the bottom all day or a noisy top-water plug early in the morning. Fly rod equipment should be in the 6 to 8 weight class.
Jackie Otto can be reached at Betts Fishing Center at (727)518-7637 or firstname.lastname@example.org.