Inshore: Pressured reds can be goaded

Published February 23, 2007

Large schools of redfish are showing up around the bay - south along the Skyway Bridge to Pinellas Point and as far north as Clearwater Bay.

But the redfish tournaments in the area have put heavy pressure on these schools. If you target reds this weekend, get up early to beat the crowd that will head out there to take advantage of the warmer temperatures.

Fish have been spooky on the lower tides. Because of the large number of tournament anglers that have been through the area, it is difficult to sneak up on the schools of redfish. Push-poling your boat into an area holding fish is the best approach. Trapping those reds in one area has led to a multiple hookups. Shrimp has been the bait of choice. Bigger shrimp are easier to cast and worth the extra cost.

Once the tide gets higher, the reds will be less spooky and actually become more aggressive. If I have a trip on the higher end of the tide, I throw the cast net and load up the baitwell with pinfish and scaled sardines. I throw out a few of sardines to get the school in a feeding frenzy. Once one or two fish start eating the chummers, I let fly with handfuls of bait to get all of the fish feeding. When redfish get in to a feeding frenzy, they will eat just about anything that is thrown at them.

Rods in the 7- to 71/2-foot range enable anglers to have longer casts using 10-pound braided line. I like to use a long piece of 20-pound monofilament as a leader in order to prevent the fish from seeing the bright colors of the braided line. A 2/0 circle hook will work with just about any bait, resulting in a high numbers of fish with few misses.

Rob Gorta charters out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 647-7606 or visit www.captain robgorta.com.