Record heat and light winds have kept the water temperatures pretty high on the flats along the coast lately. However, there has been an increase of redfish in the north Pinellas region in the last couple of weeks. Typical for this time of year, they are beginning to school together and several large fish have been caught on the flats. Redfish are less finicky than other heavily targeted species. They are apt to eat shrimp year-round as well as pinfish and sardines. However, cut baits like ladyfish, mullet and pinfish all work very well especially in the hotter parts of the day when the fish are less likely to chase live bait.
When looking for redfish, I learned a long time ago to pass up flats that are devoid of life such as mullet schools, small bait schools or even wading birds. Although most flats can hold fish, it’s better to be in areas where there is life and action. Predator fish including snook, redfish and trout will most likely be in those areas.
On a recent trip, we only targeted mullet schools on the low mid-day tide and were successful in catching a few over slot redfish using cut ladyfish pieces. But the flat was teaming with life, making it easier to target fish pushing in with the incoming tide. It’s important to note that wading birds are also eating the same small crustaceans and baits that the redfish eat, so finding areas that have plenty of birds at low tide can lead you to the fish as the tide rises.