The redfish bite has been on fire recently, with lots of fish on the flats and holed up on the bottom of drop offs and around docks. Fish on the flats tend to cruise more, usually in very shallow water near the shoreline. They’re often in water less than one foot deep, which makes them ideal targets for sight casting.
Early in the morning, you can also target them with topwater lures for some exciting surface strikes. Be sure to pay attention to how the fish are reacting to your lure because the situation may change frequently. At a minimum, I like to have at least a topwater bait and a jig tied on at all times and, if you have enough rods, a weedless spoon is a great addition to the arsenal. It saves a lot of time if you have them all tied on in advance because you can just swap out rods as necessary instead of spending time cutting and re-tying all day.
Redfish that are in deeper water or near structures can stay in the same area for extended periods of time as long as food is present and they are not overly pressured. I like fishing jigs in deeper water or throwing live baits either free-lined or with a small split shot if needed to get the bait down. In addition to redfish, it’s common to catch flounder, mangrove snapper, sheepshead, and black drum when fishing deeper structure.
A fish that is usually overlooked in the bay is the gag grouper. There are a lot more of them than people think there are, and they can be caught quite often in shallow water. I’ve pulled up to flats countless times on the trolling motor and right on the edge of the flat in 5’ or 6’ of water (laid up next to small structure) will be a nice legal grouper just hanging out waiting for an easy meal to show up. You can catch them on a bunch of different types of artificial lures as well as large live and cut baits.
Trolling lipped plugs is an easy way to consistently put fish in the boat if you can match the depth that the plug runs to the depth of the bottom you are fishing. Grouper will not chase a lure very far, so it’s important to pull the plug right over the top of the structure and right down along the bottom. Big jigs come in a close second when it comes to lures and – believe it or not – I catch quite a few while vertical jigging rattle traps. When it comes to live baits, it’s hard to beat a fresh hand sized pinfish or squirrelfish, but big chunks of mullet or lady fish are also effective.