Cooling temperatures every winter mark the start of some of the best red drum action inshore anglers can encounter year round, that is if you do your homework!
Slot and trophy red fish are found throughout many of the nutrient rich estuaries located among the Southeastern United States including Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.The plummeting water temps corral red drum into large schools, and then it's just finding the right pack to turn into a feeding frenzy.
These prized inshore gamefish are found cruising coastlines in search of easy prey and become very wise when it comes to exerting any amount of energy which will convert into a meal.The marshes in the dead of winter can be some of the best red fish grounds any inshore junkie can dream up.
Frigid mornings can certainly be your bite barometer and tell tale indicator that a full blown red fish frenzy can be right around the corner as water temperatures continue to rise throughout the day.
Deeper holes will hold warmer water longer and keep fish comfortable, at least until that sun begins to hits the flats. Once that cool dew disperses, the warm light begins to heat up the flats and ignite the bite. The fish will start to move onto the warmer flats and sunny shorelines in search of a variety of forage including crabs,shrimp,oysters, minnows, or baitfish.
Focusing on moving water, evidence of life, and wind swept points will be a good bet as these predators are on the prowl and use such areas as ambush zones.
Incoming or outgoing tide, it doesn't really matter as long as water is moving and drawing bait into the area with the tidal flow. Larger fish grow big by being smart not stupid.They're aware enough to utilize the movement of the tide and wait patiently for the bait to cross their path instead of spending unnecessary energy chasing down their prey. This learned behavior and reserved patience typically pays off with big rewards in the form of a satisfying meal.
Any seasoned redfish guide has a few staple tactics that are tried and true. Among the very top are fishing with live bait or fresh chunks of bait. Live offerings include such forage as finger mullet, pinfish, croakers, pilchards,crabs,shrimp, or oysters. Fresh ladyfish, pinfish, or mullet chunks are a secret within the old Florida redfish guides.
Rigging these chunks on a banana head or boxing glove style jighead is a no frills but deadly effectively red drum catching rig. The weight of the jighead will vary depending the depth of water and speed of the water. For example, if you're fishing the skinny water flats. areas of 2 ft or less, a 1/16 - 1/8 jighead works perfect. This lighter jighead has a softer entry when sight fishing and won't spoke the fish as quickly. When pitching along deeper cuts in 4-6ft depths, try anything from 1/2oz to 1 oz.
Next, simply tie on a 3 - 3 1/2 ft section of 20lb, Fluorocarbon leader material connected to a mainline of 15lb braided line.The FG or PR knot works excellent to ensure a small profile that will easily shoot through the guides on the rod and most importantly have excellent knot retention.
Once mastering the natural or live bait strategies. next comes one of the most exciting techniques to target redfish and that is throwing something artificial at them. This is a level many anglers attemp but few master. Several factors influence whether an overslot red drum cruising in less 2 ft of water will full commit to your offering.
Downsizing all of your tackle will be the first step to connecting with trophy bull reds. For example, if you typically run a section of 20lb leader, then bumping down to 15lb could be the ticket to a solid hook up! Next, selecting the appropriate bait will certainly dictate whether you get bit or are left there scratching your head. In the winter time shrimp and crabs are the abundant forage, so it wouldn't be a bad idea to follow a match the hatch mentality when chosing your offering. Adversely, in the springtime, baitfish such as mullet and pinfish roam the coast and backwaters in numbers which become easy meals for ambushing bulls. Selecting the right size profile also has a place in achieving any level of consistent success.
Regardless of your approach in chasing trophy red drum during cooler water temps is a staple season for any avid shallow water angler. The key is paying attention to the conditions around you and being patient. Once that's achieved, everything else typically aligns and you will connect to more red drum!