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Stealth is key to get tailing reds

October 14, 2016
By Capt. GEORGE TUNISON ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Consult your tide charts and if your schedule permits get out pre-dawn on an incoming tide morning. Stake out, pole or troll motor with a keen eye to the water looking for redfish tails waving you over to the action.

Heads down, intent on doing what reds do which is vacuuming the bottom for small fishes and shrimp, their wet tails glisten above the surface in the rising sun.

For the inshore angler this is pretty darn exciting. Try to stay calm. Do not start making noise and turning the trolling motor on high. School's out.

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Capt. George Tunison

Stealth is the game. I've actually been push-poled right up to a feeding redfish and reached out and touched its tail with a rod. Slam a lid, rock the boat, and scrape that shoe, fish gone.

Quietly get the boat in position with your pole or trolling motor on low. Long rods using light braided lines making long casts, but not on the fish's head, will put fish on the hook.

Determine the fish's direction of feeding and retrieve your lure to intercept its path.

A lure coming from behind a fish is generally a poor choice as bait never attacks reds.

If you aren't the run-and-gun type there are two ways to go. Anchor and put out baits in a circle around the boat in a suspected hot area using the legal number of rods allowed or fish the bushes.

Shrimp live or frozen, cut ladyfish, mullet, or live or dead pinfish are always great choices to throw up and under the mangroves. Spend 15-20 minutes on each spot before packing up and moving down the shoreline and doing it all over again. Keep at it and you will score.

Everything eats pinfish right now both offshore and inshore which means you should be trying it on your next outing. Live under a cork, free lined live, or used as bottom bait.

When the water level and the sun gets high the reds retreat far back under the brush and patrol the roots for shrimp, crabs, and smaller finfish. If you can't skip cast your lure to them it's time for bait to try to draw them out to you.

Rigging for under the shrubs reds can be as simple as attaching a 1/4-oz. jighead to your line and a 1-inch chunk of ladyfish on the jig

Others like a fish finder rig. Thread a 1/4-oz. slip sinker on your line and attach a small circle hook. Add a piece of bait or small live or cut pinfish, cast under and wait.

You can also add a small float and a short 12-inch piece of leader material to your hook. Load with a live pinfish or dead bait. Cast to the edges of the brush and wait. The bait need not be suspended. The cork acts more like a strike indicator, especially helpful for those newbies on your boat that are slow to react.

Strike quickly before your redfish is too far under to get back out.

During every redfish season I always remind folks to fight mangrove or brush-lined shoreline gamefish in the down and dirty mode. That is, rod tip in the water swiveling and adding power with your hips to clear the fish from under the branches. Holding the rod tip high guarantees a line tangled and broken by the branches.

I've seen lots of first time big reds lost this way, probably more than any other unwanted release mistakes.

Local flats host the 3-to 10-pound schoolies. For bigger reds, fish around the passes or closer offshore rock piles with a half blue crab on bottom.

Inshore lures for reds include spoons, topwater plugs, soft plastic paddletail grubs, and skip casted plastic shrimp.

For real redfish fans a trip to Louisiana is in order. No other place in America offers better redfish action.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-440-1621 or, or



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