Last Updated on August 23, 2020 by Capt. Louie
With the extreme low tides in the afternoons, I have only one shot to catch huge redfish before the water which I normally navigate through turns into dry land. I chose to have my clients meet me at the World famous Pete’s Pier Marina around 5:45 a.m.. I had them meet me so early for three reasons: One, we had an early morning high tide around 7:00 a.m. Two, because I have found (especially during the weekend rush) you have to be early to beat the traffic. Three, when the temperatures are hovering in the mid 90’s with a feel like temperature of 110, it pays to beat the morning heat.
With our early start we were able to see a lot of things that most late day and weekend warriors never see, HUGE SCHOOLS OF BAIT AND TAILING REDFISH! I fish year round and other than the Spring and the Fall I only see tailing redfish in the early morning hours of the summertime. Now the obvious reason for enjoying tailing redfish is the spectacle, but chances are when these fish are tailing they are foraging for either shrimp or crabs in the sand or mud.
Well it just so happened that these fish were tailing and feeding on what ever swam, crawled or wobbled on by. When I pulled into this area I first noticed that the feeding redfish had pushed a giagantic school of mullet along the bank of a Mangrove shoreline. The next thing I noticed was that the redfish were feeding just off the rocky bottom of the shoreline, almost where the rock met the sand. As soon as our first three casts with shrimp hit the water WHAM! To my amazement we had a limit of redfish within our first three casts. When this happens it is usually all fun and games for the rest of the day, but in all reality that is when the real work began. For over an hour we made cast after cast landing over 40 redfish from just within the slot to just over it. These fish were feeding on everything early that morning. We started jigging shrimp on a ¼ ounce Cotee Jighead through them and that was a no brainer. As soon as the shrimp hit the water these reds were all over it. To mix up the action a little Guy brought along his 8-weight fly rod for situations just like this. Guy’s first throw with his shrimp imitation fly landed him a beautiful 18-inch keeper redfish. If you have never seen a redfish come full speed for a fly, there is nothing like it other than watching a redfish nail a topwater lure.
As our morning began to slip away and the sun finally began to rise, the reds finally stopped tailing and dropped from a sandy/rocky flat and into an adjoining pothole about 60 yards from the mangrove shoreline we had been fishing. When these fish dropped into this pothole, it was an awesome sight. Being that the water was still dropping we began the morning fishing in about 4 foot of water and by the time the sun finally came up were were in a little less than 2 foot of water. The pothole that these fish were staging in was about 5 foot deep and we could see them boiling and breaking the surface from a mile away. However, these fish began to be a little finicky about taking a shrimp once they were in the pothole, that’s when we switched to cut mullet and mackerel. The hardiness of this bait helped last a little longer (especially when the pinfish are tagging it every second). When we switched to cutbait I made sure to tie a larger 30 lb leader on and I also went to a 3/0 Gamagatzu Circle Hook. IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO USE A CIRCLE HOOK WITH CUTBAIT BECAUSE THE FISH HAVE A TENDENCY FOR SWALLOWING THESE BAITS WITHOUT THE HOOK. When we switched to the cutbait that was when we began really getting into the bigger fish. Most of our reds on the cutbait were between 24 & 32 inches.
All in all it was an awesome day and I truly learned a lot about redfish by waking early and watching these fish in their early morning pattern. I guess the old saying is true the “early fishermen gets the fish.”