Vaughn Cochran, artist, angler, former guide & Blackfly Lodge owner got in a couple days of fishing on a busman’s holiday near his St Augustine home. The first day’s fishing was tough going …
Redfish in Florida is “Red Hot” !
One of the patterns that is fairly consistent in late February during periods of extended warm-ups is that redfish feed aggressively on low incoming tides. They usually are foraging hard as they make their way up the creeks or working their way toward the crown of the grass flat. The sun’s radiation rapidly increases the water temperature and that’s what actually triggers the appetite of these redfish.
In most situations (cold water) these late winter reds are somewhat persnickety and a little spooky by nature. So picking the right artificial lure to get a positive reaction (we call that a bite) is very difficult. But during these warm up periods with rising temps the redfish typically get a bit reckless. That’s when an experienced angler can take advantage of what I call the perfect scenario .
So what lure is ideal for this situation? Well the truth is several offerings will get the job done including spoons, jigs, plugs and even flies. Because when redfish are actively hunting and devouring food… all lures are in play. But still I have a few favorites that allow for accurate casting in spite of windy conditions like the BTB Jig (root beer) with a split tail trailer. Or the Mirrolure Catch Jr (finger mullet look) with single inline hooks, which plays well in cloudy or windy scenarios. And lastly the trusty Aqua Dream Spoons (black color) it gets the call for many anglers including me. Remember spoons are great choices if the clarity of the water is somewhat turbid (dirty/stained). But again if the redfish are fired up, any lure could be the answer… even top water plugs!
Additionally, don’t use a long heavy leaders. Shorter leaders in the 20″ to 24″ lengths are adequate. Too much leader destroys the action on light weight plugs or pulls the jig down into the grass… creating a fouling issue. And unless your fishing an area inundated with lots of Oyster a 20lb. leader weight should do just fine in most cases.
Also consider, a small skiff or kayak is a huge advantage when targeting these low water redfish. The ability to be ahead of the grazing reds will allow you dozens of shots in comparison to the larger heavier boats more reliant on trolling motors getting to the feed zone a little later. I know it’s more work to push pole or paddle into the skinny water (shallow) but that extra 45 minutes to an hour of fishing when the water is low, really pays off.
Here’s what you really need to know and that is to focus your efforts on the warming trends later this month and the low incoming tides of course. It may be freezing in some parts of the U.S. this time of year but the light tackle action on redfish in Florida is “red hot”!