By DOUG HEMMER
© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 7, 2001
The redfish in lower Tampa Bay are feeding on small pinfish. The recent spawn placed millions of small fry in the grass beds lining the spoil islands. There hasn't been much whitebait on the flats, and that puts pinfish first as redfish bait.
Pinfish are hardier and won't die in your livewell when the water gets hot. They stay on the hook better when casting, and you'll get more casts per bait. The best rig is a small cork on the leader and a No. 1 hook. The cork should be far enough from the hook that the bait stays just above the grass.
Wait for the cork to go under before reeling tight. Reeling down on a strike gives you a higher rate of hook-ups than setting the hook with a hard strike. A redfish has to maneuver a bait in its mouth, and the extra time reeling down gives the redfish a chance to eat.
Look for areas with pinfish and oyster bars. The best time is when water covers the oyster bar. If the tide is low, try potholes close to the bar. Look for movement: Wakes, vibrations and boils help locate fish. Wakes that keep moving and have a sharp point are likely redfish.
- Doug Hemmer charters out of St. Petersburg. Call (727) 347-1389.