Hit the bays before a tournament
Last weekend was the last chance to check the areas and spots we fish before the Florida Pro Redfish Series on March 3. Since it is the first tournament of the season, we want to start off with a top five. We had found a couple nice 5- and 6-pound reds the weekend before, but we needed to check the pattern of the reds with the warming temperatures, on an incoming tide with water clarity so we could see them.
We headed out early Saturday morning to the farthest spot away to fish and work our way back toward the ramp. We got to the bayou and started on the south side. We worked all the way around the bayou back to the entrance. We saw a bunch of 3- and 4-pound reds but nothing huge or tournament winning, so we loaded up and moved to the next bayou. The next bayou was the same.
We headed for a set of flats, drifted the flats and found the same thing. There was an abundance of 3- and 4-pound reds everywhere. When I say everywhere, I mean on mud flats, grass flats, mixed bottoms, bayous, ponds, sloughs — everywhere. They are fun to catch but 98 percent of the time 7 and 8 pounds will not win anything.
As we continued to move spots, more and more flats, boats and tournament boats were appearing. The three spots I really wanted to try that day, I could not, as too many boats were around and they could see if we produced and where we were poled down. A handful of spots that we fish for tournaments have never seen another boat there or even near it. We decided to try one more bayou that tucks back in and has held decent reds in the past.
We started using the trolling motor on the east side and moving around. In parts of this bayou there isn’t much visibility because of the deep holes. We weren’t seeing much at the shallows, and moved into the deep holes. On the third cast into a hole, I felt a thump and my drag started peeling. I fought it for about three minutes. It ran hard like a red but did head shakes like a trout.
I got it in the boat and it was a 25-inch trout weighing 5.02 pounds. We continued to work around the holes, got two more short strikes, and I broke off. We called it a day and agreed to come back out the next morning before the bigger storms arrived. The weather Sunday was supposed to be rainy and windy, which I appreciated, since most boats wouldn’t come out and I could check those other spots.
We headed out Sunday morning, got out in the bay and looked east, and it was pouring. We looked all around and didn’t see another single boat anywhere, so we ran for the three spots we needed to check before Saturday. At the first one, there was limited visibility due to cloud cover, but we could see a little. We were moving with the trolling motor and weren’t seeing much. As we were about to pull the motor and move, a school of three or four huge reds got by the boat and then got spooked. I knew we were starting to look in the right areas.
We moved to the second spot and there was there no visibility due to cloud cover; it was sprinkling and windy. We were fan casting; my son threw in the shallows and I threw out deeper. We were about done with the spot when I felt thump, set the hook, and the rod doubled over. As it got near the boat, I could see this was a tournament fish. My son grabbed the net, landed it, and I start measuring and weighing. It was a 25-inch, 6.82-pound red; we immediately got it back in the water and released it. We saw what we needed and moved on to spot three.
We set up on spot three, and my son’s third cast near shore followed with the water erupting. I grabbed the net, landed his red, and I am pretty sure he caught the strongest 4-pound red in the bay system the way that fish fought and wouldn’t quit. We had seen everything we needed for this weekend and headed back in and called it a day.
All we must do is replicate these past two weekends, and we should place well. If you are interested in seeing the weigh-in, it will be at 3 p.m. Saturday, March 3, at Bay Point Marina.