Catching Spring Redfish in Windy Waters
WIND IS CERTAINLY NOT AN EVIL FORCE, but you would be hard pressed to find an angler on the coast who does not think of it in an extremely negative light.
With limited time to fish many of us find ourselves at the boat dock with big winds keeping us away from our best fishing holes and scrambling to make something positive happen.
Some of the best redfish haunts are in some of the most wind-prone areas.
Ever tried to fish a seagrass flat in 30 mile per hour winds? No fun.
What about hitting that clear marsh pond you found the evening before only to find it murky from a stiff west wind.
The good thing about redfish is there are lots of them and they can be found in various places, giving us an opportunity to score even in brutal winds.
Here are some tips to help you score on reds no matter the situation.
Launch in The Interior
Many of us go to certain boat launches because of easy access or they are a quick shot to many places in the bay system.
If the winds are howling, running across the bay or even launching on it can be dangerous but there are many smaller ramps in the interior. Galveston Bay has dozens like this as does the Aransas Bay complex.
Reds will be in the interior cuts in the spring and in marshes. There may be more on the flats or reefs but there are always reds in the cuts and marshes. By launching in them you can have a safe run and can fish when that may not be a viable option elsewhere.
Fish the Channel
On big, windy days I will fish popping corks rigged with Gulp in the ship channel and try to let the cork be pushed by the wind toward the shore.
Typically, small baitfish in shrimp will also be against this shoreline and so will the redfish. Make sure you are using a weighted cork, so you can make long casts and so the wind does not push it around too much.
On windy days when the water is murky simply fishing cut bait instead of the usual lures you prefer can score nice catches.
Do you want redfish on the half shell? Sometimes you need to fish cut bait to get it.
Redfish are cut bait connoisseurs and will gladly accept your offerings. You will also occasionally catch drum and trout which of course is a nice bonus.
I prefer using cut mullet but cut croaker and shad can be effective.
If the bay system you are fishing is seriously salty then redfish can be found way up into the river systems north of the bay itself.
Run into some of the protected bayous up the river and look for shrimp and shad.
If you can get live shrimp this is by far the best bait for this setting and my preferred rig is simply a light (1/16 or 1/8 oz.) split shot rigged above a wide gapped hook.
Do not be surprised if you catch bass. They can tolerate salty water and like everything else devour shrimp.
Use the Jetty Rocks
Windy days are usually brutal at the jetties but sometimes if you get the right wind (east or west for example) you can fish one side or the other safely.
Big reds in the spring will feed right along the edge of the rocks at the boat cut on the larger jetty systems which is a difficult spot to fish as the current is strong and boats are constantly moving through.
Anglers should consider using a gold spoon here and line the boat up parallel with the rocks, cutting across the current to hit both sides of the boat cut.
With a heavy spoon anglers can cast a long way and pick up 20 or so yards of the opposite side and then race it across the current and usually pick up the fish just as the spoon makes my side of the cut.
When tides are moving in, the Gulf side of the jetties is generally much better to fish and requires some different tactics.
The most productive and least pressure spot for redfish big enough to put in the frying pan is at the very southern tip of the jetties. These spots are super current laden and if you take the time to check them out with your electronics, you will see all kinds of fascinating structures to fish.
This spot will likely be hard on a windy day, but I have fished the Sabine Jetties enough to know that on an east wind I can fish in a little pocket just north of the tip of the west jetties and cast toward the end to a good spot that produce lots of reds.
If There is No Wind
As bad as high winds are no wind can be worse. Seriously.
The reason is high barometric pressure.
Barometric pressure is probably the least understood aspect of fishing and it is one I am continually exploring.
High pressure puts strain on fish and typically makes them bit finicky and sometimes not at all. Pressure that is falling or is on a downward trend means a strong bite.
That is why the day immediately following fronts is beautiful (clear skies with high pressure) but the fishing is subpar. Some suggest pressure over 30.20 is too high and if it gets below 29.80 things can get a little shaky. If it is above 30 and falling you have ideal conditions. Remember if you are fishing high-pressure days, use light line, small lures and be ready for a soft bite.
Even reds like a delicate approach when the pressure is high. Don’t be afraid to tie on two-inch shad imitations and fish them slowly in any of the locations we have mentioned.
It will yield fish when nothing else will.
—Story by CHESTER MOORE