It was the perfect Southwest Florida morning. Air temperature at an ideal 75 degrees, sunny blue sky with a few white wisps of cirrus, and water as still as glass.
Natalie Leeke, Bassfisherwomen.com co-owner and web designer, even decided to take a hiatus from her freshwater fishing pursuits to spend the day refining her saltwater tactics. One thing was for certain—our guide, Greg Stamper, had undoubtedly researched the tides, wind speed, and barometric pressure for several days prior to our fishing adventure becoming a reality.
All three of us realized that our best opportunity at catching fish would be early, since Pine Island Sound quickly fills up with weekend boat traffic in the winter months. These conditions meant that it would only be a matter of time before someone beat us to our “honey hole.”
While most locals were shuddering at the thought of fishing on this particular Sunday morning, I couldn’t have been more eager to begin my “day of rest” by jumping aboard the 18’ Action Craft in search of a favorite inshore sport species—the Redfish.
Prime redfish locations
These copper-colored beauties are generally found in low water conditions (either on an outgoing or an incoming tide), moving along the edge of a grass flat or oyster bar. Quite often, you’ll see them “tailing” with their noses in the sandy bottom as they feast on crabs, shrimp, finger mullet and pinfish that inhabit the bays and estuaries.
As it turned out, both the outgoing tide and luck were on our side. Within 10 to 15 minutes of casting our three live shrimp near the edge of a sea grass bed, we had a simultaneous double hook-up. Then Natalie reeled in a third on the extra line.
Each fish gave us two or three good runs before we were able to get them close enough to net. Much to my chagrin, both of Natalie’s fish were around 25 inches, while mine measured in at only 22. Lesson learned: Next time you bring your bass fishing friend out on a saltwater trip, tell her that a watermelon Zoom worm is just perfect for catching redfish!
Note: According to Florida state regulations, keeper redfish must be between 18 and 27 inches. There is a one-per-day, per- person bag limit in Southern Florida, with a recent regulation update that allows for two per person in the Northeast and Northwest regions as of February 1.
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Debbie Hanson has fished professionally for the past eight years, competing in the 2003 Islamorada Women’s Sailfish Tournament, the 2004 Professional Tarpon Tournament Series, and the 2010 Women’s Professional Tarpon Tournament Series. She and business partner, Natalie Leeke, co-own a fishing blog and T-shirt brand for female anglers, B'ASS Fisher Women. Visit their website or Facebook page for more information. Follow Debbie on Twitter at @shefishes2.