The number of fish in the bays right now is staggering!
That’s especially true on the flats where redfish are laying in shallow water right up along the shoreline. Some fish are cruising the shallows but a significant number of them are literally just sitting in potholes, positioned on top of sandbars or hanging out in the flooded reed beds. These fish are best targeted with topwater baits and spoons early in the morning when it’s cool and light levels are lower. Once the sun gets up high, I normally pull out the jig and go to work poling around and casting. The fish have been somewhat skittish, so approach them slowly and methodically and make good presentations. Sudden twitches of your rod can spook the fish so use a slow and steady retrieve. Baits in shades of brown – such as root beer, Arkansas glow or bloodworm – have been working the best for me.
As is usually the case for our area, the bigger bull redfish are typically found in deeper water where there is a good volume of water flow. Around the bridges, inlets, inshore structures and along the beaches are all fantastic places to get hooked up on big redfish. The evening/night bite is especially good because bridge lights allow the fish to see silhouettes of the fish, crabs, eels and shrimp upon which they feed. One of my favorite ways to target fish blowing up on the surface is with topwater plugs. It’s a very different experience using your auditory senses to make casts in the dark, but it’s extremely exciting when you hear your plug get wolfed down by an angry 25 pounder!
One of my favorite fish to target in the bays (mostly because I love to eat them) is the mangrove snapper. They have taken up residence on many of the shallow water structures including docks, bridges, rock piles, old tractor tires and other places. The best way to target them is by chumming with either live or fresh cut bait. Allow a bait back into your chum with little to no weight and let it drift naturally, just as the chum does. For some of the bigger fish, use small live pinfish as bait. Be sure to leave the bail on your reel open so that when the mangrove bites it can freely swim off while eating the bait. Then simply close the bail, start reeling, give a slight lift of your rod and you should have it hooked up.