Our weather this winter has been all over the charts. The steady 60 degree days in January gave way to chilly temperatures in February where we would launch some mornings in the 30s. Spring is fast approaching and the warmer weather should jump start a great fishing season.
Having spent the last few months laying low and avoiding dolphins, redfish are transitioning from a period focused simply on preservation to now becoming predators again. With redfish still in big schools of up to hundreds of fish, the best fishing will be at low tide when you can sight cast to them. These fish are still spooky so stealth is of upmost importance when approaching a school. Oftentimes, it pays to anchor up when you find a school and wait for them to return to you instead of chasing them down.
Once you are in casting range, jerk shad lures rigged on flutter hooks are my go to option. These artificial lures, usually 4″-5″ in length, imitate small baitfish. Flutter hooks have a weight on their shank that let you cast a far distance and also put motion on the lure. I use flutter hooks in size 3/0 with an 1/8oz. weight. You’ll want to work these lures slowly because the redfish are still sluggish. Make sure to cast to the edges of the schools, if you cast right into the middle you stand a good chance of spooking them.
You will find at this time of year sometimes these big schools of redfish don’t want anything to do with artificials. When this happens, it’s time to soak some cut bait. I’ll put chunks of frozen mullet on size 3/0 circle hooks and just let it sit on the bottom until the redfish swim over it. Put your rod in the rod holder and resist the urge (if at all possible!) to set the hook when you see a fish begin to eat. The circle hook will do all the work for you and when your reel starts to sing you are in business.
It’s hard to have a stealthier approach than with a flyrod. This is one of the times of year when fly fishing can be the most productive means of catching redfish. When a fly is cast well, it will make only the slightest splash. Right now, we are using smaller flies especially black and white/chartreuse clouser minnows. When the fish are finicky, you can wait until the school is over your fly before you begin your retrieve and often this will draw a strike!
See you on the water!
Capt. Geoff Bennett operates Charleston Charter Fishing providing fly fishing and light tackle charters. Clients choose from a full menu of fly rods, artificial and live bait fishing options with charters tailored to their desires. USCG licensed and insured, Capt. Bennett is committed to providing a safe and enjoyable charter to anglers of all skill levels and ages. For more information, call Capt. Bennett at 843-324-3332, visit his website at www.charlestoncharterfishing.com or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.