Catching Redfish Upstream from the Bays
RIVERS NORTH OF BAY SYSTEMS on the Texas coast are loaded with redfish during summer.
These reds tend to roam in small “wolf packs” and feed along riprap, docks and drop-offs. These reds will not always feed aggressively on the surface, which is why it is important to wear polarized shades and watch for reds pushing wakes or simply sitting around key pieces of cover.
For sub-surface feeding schools, I use the Super Pogy High Pitch. It mimics the red’s primary prey species and can be fished by ripping through the water or letting it sink and over structure and reeling it quickly to the surface.
In these river zones, there is frequently coastal marsh pouring into the rivers and intersected by large manmade canals. Reds use these canals as travel corridors and find feeding easy as tides dump from the marsh to the bays.
Target the areas where these canals empty large marsh ponds or dump into a bay on outgoing tides. Reds gather in the deepest holes and absolutely hammer the menhaden, shrimp and crabs coming out of the marsh. These canals typically range from 3-6 feet deep and where you have adjoining canals or the edge of a pond, tidal flow creates potholes. They can be as shallow as six inches or as deep as two feet and they are like magnets for reds.
These are great places to fish square-billed crankbaits, which are perfect for shallow water and can cover lots of water, which is key in these kinds of ecosystems. Simply throw them out and reel them in as fast as possible. Most are designed to “walk” most efficiently at a high rate of speed.
Anglers should keep in mind that reds have what can best be described as a “cone of vision”; a term that was first coined by late outdoor writer/redfish guru Ed Holder. Reds can see about 180 degrees and the most likely strikes will be found in front of the red and perhaps just off to the side. If you have a visual on the reds, remember precision casting is important because they will rarely turn around to strike at something they only hear.
Throw just ahead of them or right behind and reel past for best results.
Anglers can fish crankbaits on virtually any kind of medium-heavy rod, even on spinning gear although that is not recommended.
The true secret however I learned by fishing with 4-time Bassmaster Classic champion and my all-time fishing hero Rick Clunn.
“Super sensitive rods will actually work against you when fishing with crankbaits. A fish will actually ‘push’ the lure as they pursue it and if you are fishing a super sensitive (graphite/composite) rod you will set the hook before the fish actually has the lure,” Clunn said.
Clunn was speaking of bass when he gave me this information but I immediately transferred the concept to redfish and it works.
Redfish are far from dumb fish that will hit anything. Anyone who has truly pursued them for any length of time knows they can be quite challenging which is why crankbaits are crucial for the coastal angler.
—story by CHESTER MOORE