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The Ladies Take The Lead

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On: Thu, May 22, 2014 at 9:12AM | By: Captain Sergio Atanes


Beth Meyers shows how it's done

Two things I can count on this time of the year is having the ladies catching fish and finding big Redfish in the flats, which makes for a great combination. When I have couples on the boat I can always count on the ladies getting the biggest and most fish, and that is because they listen to the captain and follow instructions. Men, on the other hand, within a few minutes are back doing their own macho thing.

When fishing for Reds, look for their usual hangout, because they return to the same spot year after year. Tarpon Key is one hot spot year after year. The secret is to be patient. Look for other boats and learn to read the area and set up an ambush point. Let the fish come to you and don’t try chasing them down with your trolling motor. You will only accomplish pushing them away.

When you spot the school of Redfish, position your boat up wind from them to give yourself greater casting distance. The big Reds can spook easily so the further away you are the better. Chum with both cut and live bait. I give my clients the rods with live bait while Rodney (my rod holder) gets the one with cut threadfin with a #5 split shot which keeps the dead bait on the bottom, and remember that Redfish are bottom feeders. By the way, Rodney The Rod Holder has out-fished many of my clients by being my silent angler and catcher of big fish. When fishing in heavy grass area try using a float and suspend the bait just above the grass line. This keeps the bait from hiding in the grass and lets the bait travel with the current, giving you a better chance on finding the fish.

Work as a team with other anglers in the area. You will often see us captains form a circle around the school of Redfish, and we throw chum into the center to keep the fish concentrated and feeding. If you see this and decide to join in, most anglers will let you, but just don’t try to move in on the fish, as this will only breakup the school. Work your boat alongside another boat and ask for permission first. You’ll find that most anglers will let you join in on the fun. Every boat takes a turn throwing chum into the school, which gives everyone a chance to catch some fish.

The average size of these Redfish range from 30 to 38 inches (15 to 25 pounds), and to me they are one of the best fighting fish on the flats, bar none. Snook will give a quick hard run and maybe a jump but Redfish will fight to the end. In fact, never release one after a hard fight. Hold the Redfish in the water until she decides to swim away, otherwise she may go to bottom and die from exhaustion.

My tackle is pretty simple; 7-1/2 ft. rod, medium action fast tapered with a 3500 Penn reel, a full spool of 15-pound test Fins Windtamer braided line, and 32 inches of 30-pound fluorocarbon leader with a 1/0 circle hook. The only time I use J hooks is if I have clients who keep trying to set the hook, so I have no choice but to use a J hook.

Big Redfish are residents of Tarpon Key, Joel Island, and outside mangrove areas of Bishop’s Harbor. They are year round residents except in August when water temperature gets too high and they move into deeper waters. If your bait starts to die in the flats, then it’s too hot for the fish to bite. Tight lines!


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