Catching Redfish On The Shell

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Though redfish are year-round hitters, with the warmer weather, there is even more potential for some action-packed fishing in Texas. Captain Chris Martin, owner of Bay Flats Lodge in San Antonio, provides his best tips for successful half shell fishing.

At the start of your trip, look for the reds atop the shell near the crown of the reef or in shallow guts cutting through the upper portion of the reef, especially during periods of high tide, Martin said.

“Times of higher tide will allow wading anglers to get closer to the reef on their initial approach, which should be done on the leeward side of the reef when possible, as most of the baitfish will have been pushed against the windward side of the reef,” Martin said.

As is the case in most coastal angling strategies, the number one thing to remember when hunting for redfish amongst the oyster reefs is the necessity for anglers to first locate active baitfish, as the presence of bait typically coincides directly with the presence of predator fish – in this case, the redfish. Focusing your efforts on the down-current end of the reef will also tend to pay dividends more times than not, according to Martin.

“Microorganisms, small crustaceans, and baitfish are all relocated by the current,” Martin said. “That is why it is recommended that anglers focus attention on the down-current end of the reef. That is where the redfish will be staged as they await the presentation of their next meal.”

Begin your reef wading efforts just within casting range of the crest of the reef. If the crown of the reef is within casting distance entrance to the water, cover as much real estate as possible with your top water plug before setting off across the top of the reef with heavy footsteps, and always step gently and quietly. Try not to move more than about twenty feet at a time.

“Everyone has his own preference, but a method which has proven to be productive is to toss your favorite surface walker atop the shallowest part of the reef prior to walking across a lot of the shell,” Martin said. “The noise you make as you trek across oyster shell is magnified substantially beneath the water’s surface. It’s always a good idea to start shallow, and then work out to deeper water.”

Position yourself where you can overshoot the crest of the reef by several feet, and then work the bait slowly across the shallowest point of the reef’s ridge. A Power-Pole can help you stay on the right spot and do so with stealth. Throwing out an anchor or using a trolling motor can sometimes spook reds in the shallows. There is no problem when using Power-Poles.

“I’ll work the area immediately in front of me completely by making several casts from 10 o’clock to 2 o’clock,” Martin said. “If I have no results, then I move down the reef in either direction, and repeat my previous routine.”

Start your approach with a smaller top water of choice, something like a Skitter Walk Jr. or Super Spook Jr. If the reds aren’t hitting top water, look to the middle and lower portions of the water column, and work your bait from deep water to shallow water.

“While standing in your place of choice atop the shallowest part of the reef, tie a (dependable) plastic tail to the end of your line,” Martin said. “Cast for distance, as your intention should be to gradually work your bait back up along the tapered base of the reef. If the bite just isn’t happening at the bottom of the water column, and if top waters didn’t produce any results, look for the reds to be suspended somewhere in between shallow and deep.”

Danielle Sonnier with Chester Moore

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