Time To Target Schooling Reds

After we’ve had a strong cold front, target the mouths of rivers and the very largest bayous emptying marsh if you want to catch large numbers of redfish.  As we all know, cold fronts purge the marsh of the shrimp, menhaden, crabs and other organisms the redfish make their living on.

When the bait is coming out with full force, you can often find the reds feeding on top. They’re easy to find this way, but not so easy to approach. Reds are notoriously spooky, inspiring anglers who seek them frequently to carpet their boats so as not to make any unnecessary sounds.

Feeding reds are sometimes not as easily spooked as solitary ones but they can be. The best advice is to approach slowly with a trolling motor and stay within easy casting distance, but get no closer. I have had them feeding right alongside the boat, but that is a rarity. Close boats often give them lockjaw.

When the water slows down, look for reds to be bunched up along drop-offs in the channel, attacking the remnants of the front’s purge. These fronts kill a fair number of baitfish due to a quick change in water temperature. I have come to believe the reds feed on the dead bait and my reasoning involves the presence of blue catfish during these same times.

Lipless crankbaits like the Rat-L-Trap are good to throw into these are as are medium-running crankbaits typically designed for bass fishing like the Fat Free Shad. These baits allow you to cover lots of water and are proven redfish getters.

Another good choice is a DOA Shrimp fished on the bottom and crawled at as snail pace. Sometimes, these reds will hit the bait as soon as it hits the water, but if not, be patient and fish it slowly for best results.

If you find diving birds and start catching small trout it is not necessarily time to move. If you don’t’ feel like fooling with the small trout, try a heavy, fast sinking bait like a one-ounce gold spoon. Start by chunking the lure past the schooling action if possible and simply drag it along the bottom all the way up to the boat.

I like using spoons because I can throw them far and when I use a large one very few small trout bother with it. If you don’t get hits by dragging it slowly, then try ripping it through the water as quickly as possible.

If you’re having a problem finding the reds, back off of the school a bit and start casting on the down-current side of the school. This is where any wounded shrimp and baitfish will end up and is why the reds like to hang with them. Trout are messy eaters, which works to the reds advantage.

Chester Moore, Jr.


TFG Editorial: