For the inshore saltwater angler, redfish are among the most rewarding gamefish that swim. They can be caught under a broad range of conditions, including under extreme cold or heat, and in clear or stained water. They're available from North Carolina to Texas in healthy numbers, and in sizes from the 18-to 27-inch keepers (in Florida) to monster female breeders weighing 40 pounds and more.
They are, by far, the most reliable of any inshore saltwater species. And a variety of lures and techniques can be used to fool them.
When skies are bright and the fish are cautious, small swimbaits like Hildebrandt’s SwimEasy are the perfect choice. It's pure tin construction with Elaztech grub trailer combine to create a unique wobbling, swimming action … an action that redfish find irresistible.
Natural finishes, like Smokey Shad and Houdini, are ideal under bright skies. It's subtle, lifelike colorations match most baitfish found in tidal basins, and fish will respond to them aggressively.
When light levels are low, try brighter, more opaque colors — like Space Guppy and New Penny. You’ll not only fool redfish, you’ll attract other species like trout, jacks and flounder.
If you’re confronted with stained water, switch to a Yakima Drum Roller spinnerbait — applying the same color selection based on available light levels. The brilliant flash and thumping vibration of a blade bait will instantly alert any fish within striking distance, in all types of cover — including piers, oyster bars and flooded spartina grass.
A good balance of tackle should include a 6’-6” to 7’-2” medium to medium-heavy casting or spinning outfit, spooled with 10- to 20-pound braid and suitable fluorocarbon leader (optional in stained water). Or, if your approach is more old school, straight mono in the 12- to 17-pound range will work just fine.
Look for reds moving with the tide. As the water rises, fish the shallowest parts of flats and bars, shorelines and into flooded grass, or far up tidal creeks and ditches. As the tide recedes, try intercepting the fish as they follow the water. Points, holes, channel swings and shell bars with current — all can hold concentrations of redfish. And the lures described above will catch them.
The bottom line? If you’re not getting bit, move! Redfish respond to rising water quickly, and when they do, they’re usually on the feed.
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