What's cold: On a recent trip, the incoming tide was slowed by a strong wind out of the north. And although we were sitting on a school of about 200 redfish, we could not get them to eat. The baits were alive, dead, free-lined, corked, belly hooked and sometimes slowly reeled through the school. But the fish were not going to eat until the tide started pushing. Finally, after three hours, the reds started to feed. The first two fish were landed, and we thought the bite was on. How wrong we were. Hungry egrets flew after every bait cast, which spooked the redfish school and scattered them in all directions. We tried diverting the egrets by casting one bait away from the fish. That seemed like a good idea until the seagulls showed up.
Tip: A great way to keep the birds off the reds is to not live chum. When a handful of live baits is tossed at the school, the sun will make the baits sparkle. This lures in the birds. If you need to live chum the school to get them feeding, toss the baits low to the water. This cuts down on the sparkle time. Another tip is to use live shrimp. They won't flash during the cast, and they will blend into the grass, making it hard for the birds to see.
Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 347-1389.