Spring redfish basics

Big bull reds like these caught by Brooke and Sam Allen will usually go for a big chunk of cut mullet or half a crab.

Right gear, plenty of bait options prepare anglers for battle

Rejoice, the joys of spring are here. Birds are chirping, the sun is shining, temps are awesome and the redfish are hungry! April is a great time to get out to your favorite waterway and catch redfish.

To go after redfish, I use a medium-heavy 7 foot rod with a good bait casting reel, spooled with 17-to-30 pound test line. Some may consider this line strength a bit of overkill, but in areas where you are likely to hook up with a big bull red it is needed. You definitely want to use line that is strong enough to withstand the fierce battle you will encounter.

Your choice of bait depends on the area and conditions you encounter. Factors to consider are the tide, water clarity and most importantly what the fish want to bite on that particular day. It is best to be prepared for whatever scenario you may encounter on a trip. The more options you have at your disposal, the better your chances are of catching your limit.

Try live shrimp

Live shrimp are one of the best baits to use, if you can find them. Dead shrimp and cut mullet work very well too. Plastics are good. Using a plastic shrimp on a jig head is a tried and true technique. Using a topwater bait, like a popper or buzz bait, is super fun and explosive, when fishing in clear water. Gold spoons can be deadly as well.

When fishing in shallow water, try using a weighted cork. Use frequent popping motions to attract the reds to the bait. When fishing on the bottom, try a Carolina rig, ¼ to 2-ounce sliding egg sinker and a number 2-3 circle or J hook. Redfish can be incredibly easy to catch when the bite is on. Of course, there are days when you just can’t get a bite. This can be frustrating to some, but for me personally, I love the strategy involved in trying to figure out why the bite is not happening. It may take some time, and you may have to get creative, but if you put in the effort, often you will be successful.

If you want to target bull redfish, which are over 27 inches, fish the deeper water passes in your area. Use 30-to-50 pound test, 2-3 ounce weight and a strong leader. A big chunk of cut mullet or half a crab on a No. 7 circle hook is the ticket to get the bite leading to exciting catches.

Muddy water problems

One of the only negative factors of spring time redfishing is the copious amount of fresh water pouring out into the Gulf. This can create muddy, chocolate milk looking water that is really not conducive to redfishing. It is important to find places like dead-end canals, marsh drains and other options that are not affected as much by the spring time high water.

Redfish limits are under a lot of scrutiny. The redfish limits are up to five fish slotted between 16 and 27 inches, with one red over 27 inches and four more in the 16 to 27 inch bracket. That will probably change this year, so stay informed on the limits.

Besides being so much fun to catch, redfish are incredibly good table fare. There are endless ways to prepare them. Grilled on the half shell is a recipe that is extremely popular in southern Louisiana.

Enjoy and be safe!