Winter redfishing is always a time I look forward to each year. Less boat traffic, clear water, and big schools of redfish are the main reasons. During winter, the redfish will gather into huge schools for protection against their main predator, the bottlenose dolphin. With their decreased metabolism and limited forage for energy, they are susceptible to the agile dolphins. This makes the reds more on edge and difficult to catch on rod and reel. The slightest footstep on the deck of the boat or banging the push pole on the bottom will send them fleeing with a serious case of lock jaw.
The key is all in the approach. Slow and quiet using the lightest spinning and fly gear I can get away with is key to fooling these spooky fish. The Hogy bunny paired with a 4/0 swim bait hook lands soft, has great action, and is weedless to get through those grassy places. Bone and rainbow bunker are my go to colors. They provide great contrast in any water color situation. My spinning outfits consist of 7’6” St. Croix fast action rods, Shimano Saros 3000 reels, 15lb Flourocarbon leader, and 15lb braid main line. Fly gear consists of a Sage Salt 8wt paired with RIO Redfish line. I like RIO’s pre tapered leaders with 16# tippet. This rod has enough backbone to get thru the wind yet make a soft presentation on a closer shot at a fish. Lately the fly that has been working for us is called the Pumpkin Pie. Basically an orange toad with rust colored hackle and crystal flash tail. Locating these fish requires time on the water.
Searching on flat calm days at low tide can give away schools of reds. Low tide is not the only time to look for these schools. While it may be a great place to start in locating fish, it can also be the time the fish are most spooky. Pattern fish on all stages of the tide. Find high water floaters in the grass on a nice warm afternoon and many times they will be more willing to chase down your lure or fly.
Capt. Tucker Blythe