Fall brings many changes to our coastal fisheries. Many inshore species like snook, trout, and redfish make moves from one preferred habitat to others. One of the most notable, but least understood changes is the arrival of giant redfish to the waters off the coast from Tarpon Springs to Charlotte Harbor. These breeder fish are much larger than those typically found in the inshore waters of the Gulf Coast. According to biologists, not much is known about where these marauding giants spend the rest of the year, although research is ongoing. Every fall however, schools of big reds appear in the Gulf a few miles off of the large estuaries where they gather for spawning. They spawn in these areas so their fertilized eggs drift in to the shallow grassy bays. It is here that the eggs hatch and sub-adult reds spend the first few years of their lives before joining the breeders offshore for good. For fishermen, locating a school of offshore redfish can be a fantastic experience. The fish average 15-20 pounds and can weigh over 30 pounds. When they come to the surface to feed, the resulting feeding frenzy is amazing; hundreds of redfish crashing the surface, gobbling up anything that moves. Any lure, bait, or fly dropped into the melee gets eaten immediately. The fish are very hardy and catch-and-release does not hamper their ability to reproduce.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org .