Crystal Coast winter Trophy Redfish.

Updated: Jan 22

I spend a whole lot of time studying, talking, focusing and targeting our regional trophy Drum fishery. I have been fortunate to fish with some really skilled anglers in this fishery. Bryan Goodwin, George Beckwith to name a few. It is my goal to have my finger on the pulse of this fishery for the rest of my career and hopefully my life. One of the intrigues of this fishery is being able to find them in the cooler months. This being after they leave and before they re-enter the estuaries as a large group. Re: July-October. The time that is typically known as their primary spawn months. These Adult Redfish are a personal fascination and obsession of mine. We who target them refer to them as Old Drum because these fish can be 60 years old or more, dependent upon many factors. We mean adult Redfish over 40” which qualifies the angler for citation from the state as a commendable catch. They are the breeders, the future of the fishery in literal form. These fish can travel right on out to the deeper wrecks and artificial reefs adorning our coast. When I was kid we used to catch these fish trolling drone spoons in 80’-100’+ of water As by catch targeting kings and wahoo. They like to travel edges hence the name channel bass and can be found on shoals, outside inlets and in the surf zone throughout the colder months. They are opportunistic eaters will not shy from any meal when in the mood to eat and did not reach their size and maturity by being overly picky eaters. the key is to pattern their behavior and present something they want to eat when they are there.

So recently me and a long time compadre and fellow Saltwater cowboy headed out with the intention to scout for trophy reds and inevitably end up surf casting for upper slots from the beach. Lest I mention, we never made it. We rode up the beach in shallow and turned down sea, down the beach on the first good ledge. Two thirds back we found birds, bait and with some dialing the sidescan and sonar…. Stacks of fish. I quickly put a 2oz Meat hog bucktail on the bottom let it fall through the thick masses of bunker to the bottom and had a stout thump. I knew we are a large mass of fish, just not sure how large. Wayne being an accomplished angler himself was rigged for mid water column fishing. To save on rigging time, I handed him my spare rod, by the time it hit the bottom he was hooked up. I lost my fish and Wayne had a healthy 34” fish to the boat. This went on for hours. Staying doubled up most of the rest of the day till we were wore out and out of time. It really was a rare and fantastic experience.

This fishery can be all luck or you can ride all day and strike out. another variable is you can be rewarded for your time and patience. Thursday was that scenario. Now I will say I’ve put a lot of time, effort and networking into patterning these fish in the ocean for the past 6 years. This spot we found these fish was no accident I had found them in this vicinity previously. Time spent and rewarded that day. Many of the fish we caught were on the bottom and in fact vertical jigging right under the boat. Several times we were talking and not even jigging just dragging the lure across the bottom and bam!! There was a healthy red in the line. These fish were fat and full of nearly one pound Pogie pieces. The surface temp was 60 degrees consistently. So well within the comfort range of these fish. They had plenty of energy to spend on a fight. Bucking heads and screaming drags were abundant. The sass of these guys was strongly evident, even when next to the boat they would fight and roll making it tough in the seas to boat the ones we decided to lift and photograph. I have had many memorable days chasing these fish, but this day will go down as a cornerstone. I try to run my charters where I start out looking and find the pinnacle bite towards the end. This day was the foundation of that premise. Not by design but by providence. All the components of an epic day.

 

Now there is no denying that when it all comes together and you find these Trophies laid up on the surface or cruising the shoals in any number let alone if you find hundreds or even thousands where you can see them all, get them to eat the fly or topwater plug is definitely first class. There was something to be said for probably well over a thousand fish comfortable and feeding on the bottom where you could drift and drop over and over with solid hook ups. Knowing your target species and their seasonal habits along with the nature of their desired habitats pays off. Those famous tarpon fishermen and women are a fine example, it’s not by accident, it’s rather a result of their obsession. Years of experience and hours upon hours of compiled research on the fishery. Get up with us and don’t forget to get of the coach. Find your own water and tight lines.


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