It's no secret finding the bait is absolutely critical to finding the predator fish.

And in Hopedale right now, Capt. Charlie Thomason is finding plenty of prey. However, he’s been faced with a very unique situation.

“There’s a lot of shrimp in the area, but the redfish are hanging with the mullet,” he said earlier this week. “The water is so clear in some of the areas I’m fishing I can see the mullet coming by, and there’s redfish just swimming with them.”

That’s not to say a redfish will pass up a live shrimp because it certainly won’t. In fact, that’s what Thomason has been throwing in recent weeks, and he’s been limiting out before 7 a.m.

When he’s throwing live shrimp, Thomason said the most important thing is choosing the correct depth to fish under the cork.

“If people are fishing tight to the bank, they need to fish 8 to 12 inches under a cork,” he advised. “If you fish deep (under the cork), they’re not eating it.”

However, Thomason, who operates Bayou Charters, said there is a situation where you need to have your shrimp further below the cork.

“Some days when I pull up, the mullet are really far off the bank,” he said. “I’ll have my people cast their cork, and they’ll be 60 feet off the bank.

“If you set up off the bank, you have to deepen up to like 2 feet.”

Most anglers who fish with live shrimp - whether speckled trout or redfish is the targeted species - thread them on khale or treble hooks. But Thomason prefers to thread them onto something weighted.

“The majority of the time, I’m using an unpainted jighead because I want it to be where the shrimp is what the fish is going after,” he said.

Another advantage of threading the shrimp on a jighead is the live crustacean stays on the hook a whole lot better.

Not only has he been using live shrimp, but Thomason has also been rigging his customers with Gulp shrimp, and he said the smell of those artificials is important.

“They haven’t really been eating the (unscented) plastics,” he said. “They want something that has a little more scent to it.”

The redfishing, Thomason said, has been a whole lot better on a rising tide.

“Last week, when we were getting out, the tide was still falling a little bit, and we were catching a few, but as soon as the tide started coming in, the water would clear up and we were just stroking them,” he said.

Thomason noted the size of the redfish has run the gamut, but he has found many more undersized fish than in years past.

“We’ve got so many small redfish right now,” he said. “I’ve never seen it in my career.

“In my entire career up until this year, I’ve probably caught five redfish under 10 inches. Now, I’ve probably caught 100 in the last three weeks.”