What's hot: Hard-fighting redfish are in large schools and reacting positively to more abundant food sources and warmer water. The reds, fickle several weeks ago, are feeding more.
Where they are: Look for redfish in shallow, grassy areas. A lot of eel grass died during the January freeze, so concentrate on areas with thicker turtle grass. These are foraging grounds, and redfish are in these zones in excellent numbers. At lower tides, they will be well off the shoreline. At the highest tides, redfish will be right up against mangrove shorelines and around submerged oyster bars.
Tips: There is no better time of year to trick redfish on artificial lures. With a medium to heavy spinning outfit, cast 3-inch paddletail-style lures to reds with one-eighth-ounce jig heads or longer jerkbait-type plastics rigged "weedless" to negotiate thicker grass areas. Use a retrieve speed that moves the lure as slowly as possible but still keeps the presentation realistic. When there is a solid thump on your lure, set the hook. Bonus catches in this situation are giant speckled trout. A live shrimp, small pinfish or a fresh chunk of cut ladyfish will also get eaten if the redfish will not bite the lures.
Neil Taylor charters kayak fishing trips in the Tampa Bay area and can be reached at adventurekayakfishing.com or (727) 692-6345.