What is the most exciting style of fishing? In my opinion it is hard to beat sight fishing for red fish along the Gulf Coast. I typically do this in south east Louisiana but I have some experience with this technique on the pan handle of Florida. With the fall approaching this is a good time to try your luck at sight fishing reds. In Louisiana this style of fishing has caught fire over the last 20 years as it was showcased by master tournament anglers. When sight fishing for reds it is so effective as you can cover so much water and you can make the perfect cast on the fish’s nose rather than having to make a lucky blind cast that the fish may or may not see. The early fall may be my favorite time to focus on this style of fishing and here are some key components you need to know:
Sunlight is the #1 absolute key to sight fishing reds. If it’s a socked in cloud day pivot to something else. If you found an area littered with red fish you can certainly still catch them by blind casting to them but if its an area with just a few you can be beating a dead horse in the clouds where you could catch limits in the sun. The first thing to know is always keep the sun at your back. Try not to ever go into the sun when scanning an area for red fish. When you see one you need to figure out where his head is and which way he is moving. The cast is like leading a receiver on a slant route. Casting accuracy is key. You do not want to cast to where the lure splashes the water loud and spooks the red. You either need to cast past the fish and reel it to him or make a very quite cast where the lure falls in the water like an Olympic high diver.
If the tides are high we like to push way back in the marshes of Louisiana. Here in Louisiana we have a never ending amount of shallow areas called ‘Duck Ponds”. Red fish love these shallow ponds and shallow as in 10-20 inches of water. A shallow drafting boat is key here. A lot of times these ponds are filled freshwater vegetation, which means they are full of grass. The grass acts as a sponge and can filter the water to look like the Florida keys, yes Louisiana water can be gin clear. When we find this situation we go to weed less lures. We love to use the Matrix Crawfish on a 1/4 oz swim bait hook and run it weed less helping avoid the lure catching any of the grass. The weed less approach allows for more mistakes to be made when casting as you don’t necessarily have to make that perfect cast to avoid the grass. When water levels are low the ponds may be too shallow or the grass may choke it over where the fish can’t float over it. When we find low tide situations we typically get in a main lake and find the leeward shoreline. With the water blown out it can make them easier to see, sometimes we see their entire tails or back’s out of the water. The fish tend to be much spookier on these main lake shorelines but its much easier to fish as you. simply go straight for miles and miles not having to hit multiple ponds. When fishing these hard shorelines I like to simply use a 1/4oz Golden Eye jig head with your favorite Matrix or Vortex Shad. You can use an open face jig head on these fish as grass is not an issue and a simple paddle tail on a jig head is perfect. These reds don’t seem to be as bright red and easy to see as the ones we see in duck ponds but they still show up pretty good unlike the reds we sight fish in Florida that tend to blend in with sandy bottoms making them more silver in color and very hard to see.
This is as important as having a fishing pole itself. If you don’t have sunglasses you can forget it. Here at MatrixShad.com we make some called Matrix Mirrors that are perfect for this and very affordable. You want to elevate yourself on the bow of your boat. You can simply use an ice chest or build a stand for this. The higher you go the better and further out you can see into the water. Some of these tournament boats are 5-10 feet in the air. If you go that high you have to use an I-Pilot trolling motor with the remote. Make sure to trim your motor up so its not dragging the bottom. Make sure to always have your rod and reel ready like a duck hunter with a shotgun. The opportunities come sudden and the time you have to make the cast is within seconds. This technique can be done anywhere on the gulf coast so add this to your arsenal. Most will agree Louisiana is the best in the world for doing this but even here we have seen a sharp decline in the fishery and talks of dropping the limit substantially are in the works.
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Until Next Time