The Pumpkin Patch

B:y Caitlyn Gatrell 

Fall is a great time of year in Florida. With the change of weather and a slight dip in temperatures, some species make their ways away, while others start to come out more. Redfish are amongst some of the most sought-after inshore gamefish, and they like to make an appearance during the fall season. You can’t miss them when they migrate in the area.

During the early mornings, you can hear them splashing nearby and see their tails come up through the water’s surface. The dawn bite with the beautiful sunrise skies is my favorite, and using a topwater lure is the icing on the cake. The slight clicking sound that comes as you “walk the dog” is followed with anticipation as you await that topwater bite. It’s such a thrilling thing to witness when you see a beautiful red blow up on your bait.

The screaming drag that quickly follows gets my heart racing. Seeing the line fly through the water and the fish pull further away gets me ready for a battle. The biggest challenge is making sure they don’t run on any nearby structure that can risk losing them. While it’s happened before, redfish are some of the luckiest fights I encounter. For some reason, it seems to be more rare to loose one compared to a snook or tarpon for example.

Once you get your hook set, which doesn’t seem to be too hard to accomplish, it’s an almost guarantee to successfully bring them in. I love to see the boil on the water’s surface as they give a powerful kick and dig back down. I let the line go when they fight, and when they give a break, I quickly reel in. The process repeats until they are at the boat. Sometimes they give another big kick right at the boat, but once they are ready, I have someone grab them by their thick tail, and place a hand under the belly.

It’s such a great feeling when I get them in my hands. It’s like a pat on the back, especially for the bull reds. I love the slimy yet texturized feel of their scales and their beautiful tones of red and gold. I always like to take a couple photos to remember the memory and to share with other anglers. The careful release ensures a good revival and a safe send off.

I find fishing around mangrove lines and oyster beds are my biggest hit during fall. Hungry reds wait in the shadows and are on the prowl for anything tasty. Throwing live mullet and pilchards or some D.O.A or Gulp swim baits are a big hit. Sometimes we’ll catch smaller ones, but the 30+s make their way in sometimes.

Fishing southwest Florida is such a memorable experience during the fall, and fishing for redfish just makes the experience more enjoyable. For those that have experienced similar, you know exactly what I’m talking about!