GO FISHING is a look at the area fishing scene through the eyes of local charter boat captains and fishing guides. Today: Ray Markham.
Unless clients specify an interest in a certain species, I'll target several species during a day's fishing. What I target depends on the time of the tide for the locations I'm fishing for each species. Prior to the last new moon, trout were our main target. But after the new moon phase, redfish numbers increased dramatically through Wednesday's full moon.
Redfish invaded lower Tampa Bay, Terra Ceia and areas south into Sarasota Bay. The action has been hot and steady, averaging 10 to 30 fish per trip. Schools of five to 50 redfish have been the norm over the past two weeks. Like several other species of fish, these fish are schooling to size, meaning fish in a school won't vary more than an inch or two in length.
The last half of the morning incoming tide has been productive around barrier islands bordering the Gulf and mangrove shorelines within the first few hundred yards of passes. Outgoing tides put redfish into deep potholes on the flats adjacent to drop-offs and channel edges. Tides during the week have been strong due to the influence of the full moon. Both major and minor solunar periods have been key for working these schooling fish.
Redfish typically key in on mullet schools, but we found reds working small pods of whitebait and glass minnows. One commonality of all places we found reds was that there was bait of some kind, and a bottom combination of grass and mud or sand bottom holding clams.
During low light after dawn, topwater plugs such as the MirrOlure MirrOmullet work well, but floating grass can prevent a clean cast without fouling the plug. Weedless gold or copper half-ounce Eppinger Rex Spoons, CAL Jigs with night glow Shad tails, and MirrOlure Lil' John Jerk baits have produced good numbers of fish ranging from 16-34 inches and can be fished with minimal weed problems.