Well the Redfish have been eluding me big time lately. This can be directly attributed to my newfound obsession of hunting juvenile Tarpon which heavily congregate in our local backwaters and creeks this time of year. I have done a bit of Tarpooning in my day, but this is a whole different ballgame entirely. I have to give a huge thank you to my friend Steven Lester of Wild Florida Outdoors for turning me on to this awesome fishery.
Steven Lester with a nice Poon on fly.
Even hooking a small and acrobatic 5lb fish in this maze of obstructions, located in creeks that are sometimes only 15 feet wide is a thrilling affair to say the least. Most fish are in the 5lb range but a surprise 20-40lb fish or better can come out of nowhere and completely take you by surprise. This is one of the reasons I love this type of combat fishing, you never know what size fish you have until it takes to the air and displays it's true size. These fish are aggressive and very strong, making for some epic fights in tight quarters.
But this week, I began to miss my little red friends I had been neglecting. After 3 weeks or so off of the flats chasing the Silver Kings, I wondered if I had lost my skinny water mojo. There was only one way to find out, a flats trip was definitely in order. My buddy Jasen and I got to the launch at about 10am, in an effort to take advantage of the lull in the wind that was forecasted in this timeframe. Our late start gamble paid off, as the water slicked out just as we were approaching my target area. I stood up and began to pole and within three minutes, found exactly what we were hunting.
We were greeted by a huge wad of at least 100 over slot Redfish who were face down in the grass tailing, grazing the bottom like a herd of cattle. Jasen had never caught an over slot Redfish nor had he seen them displaying tailing behavior. They were not only tailing, but finning out on top, frequently exposing their backs above the surface. Translation? Happy fish. We made a slow and silent approach, and staked out 75 feet from the feeding beasts. With the stealth of the Predator 13, they had no clue we were even in the house. Knowing Jasen had never had a chance at fish like these, I had him toss into the school first.
Within seconds he was on, latched to a drag ripping bull Redfish, the largest he has ever had on the end of his line. He fought the fish for about 10 minutes before it finally gave in and came yakside. It measured out to a respectable 36". We took a quick picture and spent a couple of moments reviving this beautiful fish. It kicked off strong and Jasen was elated, having accomplished his biggest Red to date. Naturally my response was, "Lets get ya a bigger one."
That is exactly what happened about two minutes after we released his first fish. He got another one that taped out to 38", besting his few minute old personal best from the previous cast.
We finessed these fish and never chased them, landing a total of 5 between us from 32"-38" in the span of an hour or two.
Then, in a flash, Mother Nature shut us down with a brisk east wind, that caused our happy school to become agitated. We watched them in the blink of an eye go from tailing and feeding heavily, to balling up and quickly going off the deep end with a sense of urgency. We contemplated following them but opted not to, on account of the distant lightning, and the fact that these breeding size fish will soon be spawning and didn't need the extra pressure. Not a bad day for an hour or two of fishing! It felt great to be back in the Redfish saddle! Just so happens my saddle these days is the Old Town Predator 13, the perfect vessel for a multitude of fishing applications.