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Some basics for fall redfishing

August 21, 2010

Last week I wrote about the upcoming fall redfish bonanza where redfish form large schools and patrol the flats. Now that the tarpon season is winding down, but certainly not over, fall redfishing is on the minds of many inshore anglers.

For those that don't enjoy the work and mess of cast nets and live bait, but love fooling fish with lures and flies, fall redfishing is made to order.

Let's look at some basic tackle selections. Pick your rod and spool it with your favorite line. I fish 20-pound braid lines with a 30-inch fluorocarbon leader. Many new redfish anglers show up with huge snaps, giant swivels, clips, and other unnecessary hardware that is usually big enough for shark fishing and either falls apart or scares the fish.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

Tie your leader to the main line with the back-to-back uni-knot. Tie your leader to the lure with one of many loop knots for max lure action. For fly rods, pick a 7-9 weight rod depending on your level of experience and wind conditions.

A huge fly selection is not needed when the reds are on the flats or in shallow grass. A great choice is a bendback fly that rides hook up, poppers, weedless crab and gold spoon flies will get the job done in shallow water.

Lure fans are blessed with tons of choices. Spinnerbaits, top waters, spoons, soft plastics, practically any lure in your arsenal will do the trick when reds are schooled and hungry.

My top choices for pre-dawn reds are floating Mirr-0-lures or large slowly retrieved top waters, such as a three-hook Zara Spook or Skitter Walk. Black is my go-to choice before the sun comes up, then switch to gold colors as the sun begins to show. After sunrise switch to a gold spoon. The spoon is a great lure as it can be cast very long distances, can be retrieved rather quickly, can be fished shallow or mid depth, and it flat out catches reds.

If I was allowed just one lure, it would be a 1/4 oz. gold spoon. In clear water I opt for silver.

When casting spoons learn to "snub" the line just before it touches down which quiets the entry of the lure. Simply track the lure and just before it hits the surface place a finger on the spool to stop the line from paying out. This is a good trick to learn when casting any type of lure.

Another common mistake is to retrieve too fast, causing the spoon to spin. Retrieve just fast enough to cause the spoon to wobble and flash, but never fast enough to cause it to spin.

My spoon rod uses a tiny SPRO 35-pound test swivel to minimize line twist. SPRO swivels are tiny, strong, and reliable. Tie the main line to the swivel and then tie the leader to the other end.

Capt. Dick May of Easy Rider Charters reports that although water temperatures in Pine Island Sound and Charlotte Harbor are at a seasonal high, the redfishing continues to be very strong.

Fish are mostly in the slot from 22 to 25 inches with some bruisers over 30. White bait is plentiful on the grass flats, but I have had my most success with large frozen, head on, shrimp and cut ladyfish steaks.

On low tide, fish the potholes off the bushes, but when the tide starts rising, go to the shade under the bushes.

Mangrove snapper fishing is starting to improve every day. For the larger snapper, fish the passes. On a slack or slow tide, use small dollar-size pinfish drifted on the bottom. While in the passes look for diving birds and you will find Spanish mackerel and bluefish. This should get better as water begins to cool this fall.

The key is to get out early.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at, or Flying Fins Sportfishing.



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