Redfish with Capt. Jim Ross

Episode 3 - Targeting Redfish In The Central East Region With Capt. Jim Ross

April is a great month for chasing redfish in the Central East Region. The weather patterns are starting to shift to a southeast breeze and the waters of the Indian River, Banana River and Mosquito Lagoon are starting to warm up, making the fish more active. And more active redfish means a great topwater bite.

April is usually a pretty windy month, and on the days when you have a good wind chop on the water you want to go with a popper-type topwater lure like a Rapala X-Rap Pop or a Storm Chug Bug. Another good option is a SkitterWalk or X-Walk with a rattle inside. The sound from the rattle will help the fish find the lure easier in the chop, which is making noise as well. As for color, I like the SkitterWalks in the Redfish color.

On the occasional morning when you’re greeted with no wind or slick calm conditions, you want to go to lures that have no rattle in them like a High Roller or a small SkitterWalk. Soft plastics like a Bass Assassin Die Dapper is another good option—something that cuts a good wake but doesn’t make a lot of noise. For some reason, the redfish don’t like noise so much when it’s calm.

Redfish in the springtime are more sedentary, and you’ll find them in singles, doubles, or small pods of up to eight fish at a time. The fall months are when the fish school up in big numbers, but in the spring they’re traveling in little feeding congregations that are focused on the mullet.

We get a bit of a spring run of mullet in my area as the fish move out of the creeks and backwaters and into the open Lagoons, and the redfish are right on them. If you don’t see mullet in the area you’re fishing, you won’t see redfish. And since mullet is their main target, they make a great live bait.

You can fish mullet live or in chunks, and it seems the chunks actually work better, particularly on those slick calm days. You can also use cut chinks of ladyfish or pinfish, or even half a crab.

Rig those baits with a VMC 4/0 Circle Hook with 20 pound Sufix fluorocarbon leader. I like a 7 or 7 ½ foot rod with 10 to 20 pound braided line, heavier line when using cut bait because the braid will be lying on the bottom and stands a better chance of hanging up on oysters, grass or other debris and breaking off.  

On the Indian River Lagoon, the area from the Wabasso Causeway north to Mullet Creek has a lot of fish along the shorelines and flats. On the Mosquito Lagoon, the flats around Black Point and Dummitt Cove in Titusville have strong populations of redfish, as does the Tiger Shoals Basin.

The redfish in my region average 16 to 32 inches in length, but pods of bigger fish up in the mid-40 inch range are always in the area. The majority of the big redfish we find are out in the deeper water on the edges of the bars.


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