Menhaden and mullet, the two big Ms of the baitfish world, are followed by a variety of fish. Cobia and tarpon are arguably the most sought after. Redfish are mostly ignored during this time of year.
But, redfish follow these bait schools just as religiously as cobia and tarpon, and the ones you can encounter are not last years hatch. These are bruisers.
An Early Trip
On one trip we made, we found only one small pod of menhaden (pogies). It was a bit early, and we may have been pushing it, but theres something about hooking up with a forty or fifty pound red that makes your blood run strong!
Setting Up with Bait
After cast netting some nice live pogies, we settled in and anchored with live baits on the bottom. Later in the spring this method works well, because there are enough baitfish coming through that your live bait is literally under a school most of the time. Reds and others follow these moving schools and run right into your baited hooks!
On this trip we had to change our tactics a bit. The only school we could find was moving around, so we had to sort of move with them. After several moves it became apparent that the school was slowly making its way north.
I ran a short distance ahead of them and anchored in their path. With our baits on the bottom, the school passed right under and around us. After they passed us, we cranked up and did it again.
It took several moves as I said we were pushing an early spring but we did finally hook up with a nice red, one about twenty pounds. He was not huge as these reds go, but he put up a great battle on twenty pound tackle.
Look for Fish
We kept an eye out for cobia, but saw neither a cobia nor any rays. Rays traveling under the surface are a magnet to cruising cobia in the spring.
A Good Day
We made several trips over the next couple of weeks as the bait got thicker. But for this trip, at least the first beach red of the year had me charged up for the rest of the spring season!