Winter Redfish: Down Size Your Lures
Well, Winter is finally here in Florida. The water has cooled down and gotten crystal clear. For me this means one thing, time to downsize. With a water temp on the flats of Tampa Bay at a brisk 54 degrees, our big three inshore species, Snook, Redfish and Trout slow down and change their forage habits. For the purpose of this article I will be concentrating my efforts on Redfish, as they are by far my favorite inshore species to target.
During a recent quick trip out to the local flats, I took time out to look at the bottom as I glided by. The grass had thinned out, the water was crystal clear and I thought to myself how different a few months make in fishing conditions. Top waters and large jerk baits were the ticket not long ago, but now that winter has finally arrived, it is time to down size your lures. Redfish key in on crustaceans such as crabs, small clams and small bait fish, so you need to match the hatch. Sound familiar??
My go to Redfish lure this time of year is a D.O.A. Shad Tail, #416 Golden Bream on a Slayer Inc Predator weedless jig head or a Mirrolure Lil John scented bait on the same jig head.
There are plenty of good jig heads out there, I prefer the Slayer Inc Jigs, but D.O.A. and Mission Fishin are good as well. What they don’t offer that Slayer Inc does, is different sizes of hooks. Anywhere from a 3/0 to 5/0.
Top to Bottom – Mission Fishin, D.O.A., Slayer Inc.
Dark colors such as the D.O.A. Shad Tail Rootbeer/Gold Glitter (top) and Gold Rush, as well as the Mirrolure Lil John in Golden Bream are all great colors for the winter time. Another great lure is the D.O.A. Paddle Tail (bottom) in Rootbeer. These lures are incredibly durable and last all day long. The color of the jig head probably doesn’t matter all that much, I prefer the Chartreuse color. I’m more confident using that color, it’s worked well, so I stick with it.
Downsizing also applies to your leader as well as your lures.
Normally I will use 25 to 30 lb fluorocarbon leader. Fishing on the flats like I do, this might seem a bit much during the warmer months, but you never know when you’re going to run into that big snook, so I like to be ready. But during the winter, when the water is crystal clear, I’ll down size my leader to 20 lb, sometimes even 15 lbs. Something I’ve noticed with fluorocarbon, it will kind of dull out if used to long, so I’m quick to change it between trips. No fancy knots, a uni-to-uni for my line to leader, and a simple loop knot on my lure. I use 8 or 10 lb braid all year long, 8 lb if I can get it. I can cast further with the liter line, and it’s still plenty strong for most fish I run into.
So now you’ve down sized, how should you work these combos? Ssssllllloooowwww. If you think it’s slow, slow it down even more. This is by far the best time to sight fish for redfish, if you have a good pair of sun glasses, you can possible see the redfish cruising by. What to look for are shadows moving in the sand, or most times they are just sitting there. Even if you’re not sure it’s a redfish, cast to it. Look for deeper sand holes, they don’t have to be super deep, just a few feet deeper than the surrounding water. The water will have a slightly darker look to it, you might still be able to see the bottom, but it will just look deeper than the surrounding area. Cast into those spots and just drag your lure across the bottom, maybe every once in a while pop it off the bottom. The bite will be real subtle, almost like a pinfish picking at it. I sometimes wait until I feel some weight on the line before setting the hook. But once they are hooked, you’ll know it. Something about winter time redfish, they fight completely different than they do in the summer. It’s also a great time to downsize your rod and reel combo and break out an ultra-lite combo. You will not do any harm fighting a fish a bit longer in this cooler water, it has plenty of oxygen in it and the cooler temps don’t stress them out like the warmer water does. I hope these tips help you increase you’re catches this winter.
Winter time, it’s the time to down size your gear and catch em up.