After scouting for a few hours Thursday, I knew that the conditions would make catching a little more challenging for our planned Saturday trip. We had a high tide around noon and a light five mph breeze from the west. We hooked up the boat and loaded the equipment. I typically stop into Ruskin Bait & Tackle to pick up a couple of dozen shrimp because they're always a good bet if the fish aren't biting on artificial or live/cut greenies. Unfortunately, tropical storm Debbie put a halt on the shrimpers. Therefore there was no shrimp; shipments should start again next week. As expected, the water still had the coffee-stained hue; it looked as if we were miles up the little manatee river. Even out at the marker buoys in the middle of the bay. Once on the water, I headed to a popular bait marker to see any whitebait signs.
Unfortunately, visibility was less than a foot, but my Lowrance HDS confirmed that masses of bait were below the surface. They were hovering at about 6 feet or so below the water column. So we anchored, and I decided not to chum; that proved to be a mistake. Ten casts or so later, we have enough threadfins to satisfy our need. The tide was already higher than it should have been due to the rain waters, instead of working the potholes. I decided to drop the trolling motor and slowly troll our way to the mangrove shorelines. On the way, we pitched artificials to entice a trout or maybe a sitting redfish.
We had a few bumps here and there and caught a couple of small trout; even in a foot or so of water, the bottom still wasn't visible. Finally, I arrived at one of my redfish spots. I chopped up a couple of threadfins and tossed them along the shoreline. Jesse fished 1 inch chunked threadfin on a 1/0 Super Mutu light owner on the bottom while I kept my bait on a cork just off the bottom. A little time goes by with no results, so we pulled the "Wang" (Anchor) and moved to the next spot. Immediately Jesse hooked up with an 18-inch redfish. He quickly releases him and cast again to the same hole. Thirty seconds later, he hooked up also, only this time the St. Croix rod was flexing its muscles, and the substantial drag was easing line as the fish pulled him toward the mangrove roots. After an intense battle, up comes a 24-inch fish. He places the red into the fish well for a fresh blackened redfish sandwich for later. He then pitched into the same spot, and he instantly got a hit and knew this one was different from the others. The rod bowed over, and he had "extreme" side pressure on this beast. He finally pulls the desperate yet vigorous fish from the comfort of the shadow line. After a 20 minute struggle, up comes a 31-inch redfish with a red/orange hue like no other; the fish screamed beauty. We fished that spot for the next hour, catching a releasing over a dozen slot redfish. I decided to chum up the snook that I knew would be waiting for an easy vulnerable meal to pass by. I toss out a few disoriented threadfins and immediately toss out my live threadfin on a popping cork. Minutes later, I have a massive boil on the bait, and the battle began. The snook made a couple of 20-yard runs, and finally up comes a 25 plus inch snook. I don't measure them because I don't keep them out of the water for more than a few seconds. I toss out a few more baits to get the same results. Overall, the day was fantastic, and the fish were hungry. Boat traffic was low, as I suspect most people believed that the fishing would be terrible. Sometimes you have to go with your instincts; it paid off on this trip.
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