Dreary Day Reds

I had loaded the bare minimum tackle onto our 23’ pathfinder and inched the slow-as-a-sloth lift down until the boat started rocking side-to-side with the waves. I put the engine in reverse and eased out of the boat slip with a cool breeze hitting the back of our necks. Mom and I had one goal in mind: catch a slot redfish so she could try her master chef skills on a new way too cook the fish.

I swung the boat lazily around and pointed her north into the Choctawhatchee Bay, away from the dock and directly into the wind. There was a faint hint of a red tide still lingering in the air that was pushed in by Hurricane Michael, which can choke you if it is bad enough. We idled off the flat and then kicked her into gear on our way to the first spot. 

We arrived to the first spot without much fanfare. It was a deeper hole where there usually is an abundance of bait, we so dropped the sabiki rig to catch whatever bait the fish would be honed in on. This is the most effective way I’ve found of “match the hatch.” After catching a few croakers and a couple herring, we stuck the hook in them and threw them behind the boat on a pair of baitcasters heavy enough to fight a bull red in the event one was swimming by. We kept catching bait and started filling the live wells while patiently waiting for a redfish bite on the rods behind the boat. After about 30 minutes without a bite from a red, I decided to move the boat with the trolling motor to a new spot about 50 yards away.

As we pulled up to the spot, I noticed there were some bait boiling on the surface and so I casted straight in that direction with a live herring. It was as soon as the weight hit the bottom that I felt that all-so-familiar “tap-tap” and set the hook on what was our first slot redfish of the day. We decided to take our chances that there would be a few more fish around and released him back into the water.

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Mom wasn’t having any luck and started looking as bored as a 90s kid grounded during the summertime, so I moved over another 50  yards to a new spot to see if the bite was better in the next hole. You know when the umpire gets up and says “Play ball!!!” well that’s exactly how it was in the new spot. Every drop that we had was producing a bite and we either came up with a slot redfish or an empty hook. The reds had schooled up in that hole and as the tide was starting to bottom out, they were feeding like a fat kid at an all-you-can eat pizza buffet.

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Mom pulled out a nice looking redfish for the dinner table that I tossed in the livewell to take a nice ride back to the house. We’d ended the day with 5 slot redfish and lost two more with the majority of the action coming right as the tide was swinging around from dead low and started inching its way back in. The bite slowed down as the tide fully switched, so I eased the boat back home with the sun setting behind us.

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