Rough Ride for a Real Red
The wind was blowing 20 mph with 30 mph gusts all weekend from the Northeast, and the bays were capping.
Two years ago if you had asked me to go out in the boat, I would have told you no thanks, trying to quit. After the knowledge acquired the last two years and fishing tournaments this year, we now refer to this type weather as tournament conditions.
When fishing these type conditions, it will be a rough and probably wet ride en route to the spot. Look for sheltered points, sloughs, bayous, anything that you can get out of the wind but still find fish.
Saturday afternoon my wife, son and I went out for a couple-of-hours trip. My wife just wants to spend time together doing something we enjoy. I, on the other hand, want to put her and my boy on gator trout and upper slot reds. We headed to some flats that I located on Bing maps that had broken bottom, cord grass and were out of the wind. In the first 20 minutes, my wife bowed up on a stud of a red. He was just running drag and not really slowing down, and then the reel went silent and the rod went back straight; the hook pulled.
We worked that area a little more and decided to move to another new area out of the wind.
We drifted and used the trolling motor to navigate the second new area. My wife bowed up again but nothing real big; it was a small trout. I bowed up and landed an upper slot red. My wife and I continued this pattern, and I caught five more red and she caught four trout with one being at 20 inches.
Sunday, same weather conditions but this time my step-son, his friend, and I headed out. The goal for that day was for my son’s friend to land his first red and trout. We followed the same pattern from the day before with it being out of the wind. I wanted to see what it would produce on a different tide.
First area, and the bite was slow but we managed to double on an upper slot and a middle slot red. We worked through the area a little longer and we could see the reds following the bait but they wouldn’t take it. Instead of spending too much time playing with finicky reds, we moved to the second spot just as the day before.
We were working the same as the previous day, but this time there were a lot more reds in the area feeding. About every 15 minutes, one of us would bow up and they were 21- to 25-inch reds. Nothing spectacular, but a blast to catch.
My son hooked up; he said it was nothing big and then it rolled. I informed him that was a good red and about that time, the red saw the boat and the drag started screaming. The red ran around the boat and headed for deep water. My son’s goal has been to catch a 27-inch or bigger red. He fought the red for roughly five minutes and landed it. It was a 7-pound red that measured 28 inches. My son’s personal best red until then was 25 inches at 6.2 pounds.
The look of joy and excitement that was on his face and the passion about that fish when he spoke would bring chills and excitement out of any parent. To be able to share something so simple but such a big accomplishment is indescribable.
We used Matrix Shad soft baits on red 1/8th-ounce and quarter-ounce jig heads, and gulp jerk shad on a 1/16th-ounce or 3/32-ounce owner weighted twistlock hook. Howell is the only one in town that carries the Matrix Shad, the rest of the baits can be purchased at any of the tackle stores.