Redfish On Tampa Bay

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Posted by: Captain Woody - Comments Off on Redfish On Tampa Bay

There is something mystical about arriving on an early morning grass flat. As a pre-dawn fog begins slowly lifting you quietly ease the trolling motor into the water. Slowly making your way into your favorite Redfish area your fishing pal remarks, “I can’t believe no one else is around”.websize

 Glass flat water and a light fog make a perfect morning to work topwater lures across a broken bottom grass flat. Picking up your rod and sending your favorite lure rocketing through the morning air you turn to you pal and say, “First fish for a buck”. “You’re on”, he mutters back.

 As the ripples disappear you begin a longtime technique of walking-the-dog. This is where the lure bobs from side to side with each twitch of the rod. You’ve done it a thousand times, but are never ready for the adrenaline rush that comes when a fish swirls on your lure. The thought barely clears you mind and it happens… a large Redfish attacks and grabs your the lure, “Fish-On dude, get out your wallet.”

 This scenario plays out thousands of times a year around the state and particularly the Tampa Bay area. “Redfish” are built to brawl and often disciplines some of today’s top inshore anglers. Over the last decade, Reds, as they’re often referred to” have become a major target throughout the south and is the fish to catch in Tampa Bay.

 Always popular as table fare and before management controls; redfish gained renewed popularity when New Orleans Chef Paul Prudhomme began serving the well-liked recipe known as “blackened redfish”. Inshore anglers had uncontrolled size and bag limits and the large offshore breeder schools, became easy targets for commercial netters. In jeopardy of overfishing, as early as November 1986, Marine Fisheries Commission began its first attempt at regulating this fashionable species. In 1989 they closed redfish to commercial harvest and instituted a no closed season, but an 18 to 27 inch slot limit, and a limit of one fish per angler per day. Life was again good for redfish anglers. Now this fish has gained popularity as a tournament target. Over the last 15 to 20 years, like freshwater bass, redfish became the object of many catch and release tournaments throughout the southern United States.

 Where’s the fish? With Tampa bay being approximately 35 miles long and at the furthermost point 12 miles wide; that’s a lot of water, so where are the fish? Tampa’s shallow grass flats extend from every shore; offering excellent fishing for shore bound anglers, boaters, and waders. There are also excellent opportunities from fishing piers.

 What to look for: When approaching an area especially on outgoing or low tides, stay alert the ever enticing black dotted tails sticking out of the water. Tails up and heads down is a sure sign that redfish are actively feeding. You might think, with their heads down they’re easy targets, but don’t be fooled; they have exceptional eyesight and even better hearing. It’s often said, “A redfish can hear you change your mind”. At other feeding times; as tides raise they travel into the many mangrove root systems flourishing along Tampa’s shore. A haven for everything from crabs to small baitfish the mangroves offer a buffet of delicacies for hungry reds. Regardless, whether you fish high or low tides fish migrate toward structure; the reason, it holds food.   

 Catching Redfish: Usually, searching for food, reds are never bashful about attacking anything that’s looks enticing. Artificial lures will catch redfish; the key is making it look tantalizing enough to interest a hungry fish. On the other hand natural bait anglers use live pilchards, pinfish and shrimp, but sometimes they just won’t chase artificials or live bait. This is where dead stinky cut bait, on a circle hook and left on the bottom comes into play.

 The Net Ban: Amendment Three of the Florida Constitution, otherwise known as the net ban, was approved by voter referendum in November 1994 and implemented in 1995 and greatly improved our Tampa Bay fishery. Fishing the bay area for over 50 years I’ve witnessed a fishing revival to the point you can readily catch Redfish, Snook, Trout, Tarpon, Mackerel, or just about any other species common to Florida’s west central coast.

 Mornings and time on the water makes everything worthwhile. I shudder to think that someday this will be lost forever. Unless we get involved and start conserving our natural resources, our ever-exploding population, and quest for the all mighty dollar will ultimately destroy the few we have left. If you do not think they’re not being threatened and already disappearing… just look around. It is everyone’s responsibility to protect these precious environmentally sensitive resources. If we do not speak up and accept the task… who will?

  “Give Me a Call & Let’s Go Fishing” Captain Woody Gore is the areas top outdoor fishing guide. Guiding and fishing the Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Tarpon Springs, Bradenton, and Sarasota areas for over fifty years; he offers world class fishing adventures and a lifetime of memories.

 Single or Multi-boat Group Charters are all the same. With years of organizational experience and access to the areas most experienced captains, Woody can arrange and coordinate any outing or tournament. Just tell him what you need and it’s done.  Visit his website at: WWW.CAPTAINWOODYGORE.COM, send an email to wgore@ix.netcom.com or give him a call at 813-477-3814.