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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I’ve been out a lot the past 6 days and it’s been some of the best winter red fishing to date. November was a little warmer than usual and I think that’s why the red fishing was not like it had been in years past. But now that we have had a couple of real good cold fronts, the fishing is on fire.

Here is a short report with a few tips and some pics.








The winter reds are here and they are in full force.
Look for a lot of birds diving or sitting on the surface, and you are bound to find the reds around. One key thing to catching these reds it not to run up on the school fast; it will just make them go down and they might not pop up again for a while. Ease up to the school, make long casts and you should hook up.



If you don’t see the fish on top, watch your bottom machine and when you see the schools of reds mixed in with the bait school, drop your jig down below the bait school and work it up slowly jigging, and you should hook up. I like to use a 1.5 – 2 oz Spro buck tail jig with a laser tail or some kind of soft plastic attached. 40 lb mono leader and 30 lb braid will work for the main line.

Yesterday (12-2-2011) started out a little windy but in the afternoon it warmed up and was like a mirror on the bay. We hooked 16 reds with two at 40” and we had so much fun. Over the past two weeks, we’ve boated over 50+ reds --all 30” - 42”. It’s been awesome; man, I love this time of year.





Hope everyone has fun catching them this winter. Lastly, after you take that trophy pic, take time to revive the fish before you release him. These fish are important to our ecosystem; they are our breeders, so take the time to revive them so your grandkids can catch them someday. These reds can live over 20 years, so who knows, maybe my grandson might catch the same red I did one day.


Tight lines.
Capt. John
 

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Saw you at the ramp yesterday. I was pulling my buddy's Pro Line in your way as I waited for him to get out of the can. Nice haul. We never could find the reds and I think we need to take a couple of trips with the professionals here to get some "good" experience. We had a great time out there regardless On what turned out to be a gorgeous day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hey, no problem about where you were parked I figured that's what was going on. Thanks for the kind words, Wintertime reds can sometimes be difficult, because if there not up top busting baits you have to find them by using your bottom machine. If yo're out and you see me on the water feel free to call,, if I'm on the reds ill let you know, its not likes its my honey hole dock for slot reds or my speck hole, wintertime reds move around a bunch and you have to run a lot some days to find them and to keep up with them. They are fast and one minute they are all around you and the next there 150 yards or father the other direction. If you would like to book a winter redfish trip just give me a shout.
Good luck the next time your out, it looks like were going to get some high winds and rain in a few days so I guess It's tackle cleaning time.
 

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nice catch seems like all of you guys had a blast!!!!
 

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Bull reds

In my opinion, it is "hit or miss" for the reds as shown on this post. With smooth seas, I have piloted 18 mies round trip in selected spots like Deer Point, EPA etc and have not found any in 4 hours.

Capt. Rivers loves this fishery and works hard to please his clients. If you don't see a frenzied flock of birds, look for some just sitting on top together, kill your motor and wait. If there is a school, these resting birds will move to another location, so just follow and wait. I think you will do better waiting some than running all over the place. Last Thursday, they were in Santa Rosa Sound in front of Portofino condos. If you are good with binoculars, these might help to find those birds ......then be patient and follow Capt. Rivers advice. Easier said than done. After finding a school, I have gone on Channel 16 trying to find others looking for the reds in hopes of helping, but no one ever answered.
 

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Hey, no problem about where you were parked I figured that's what was going on. Thanks for the kind words, Wintertime reds can sometimes be difficult, because if there not up top busting baits you have to find them by using your bottom machine. If yo're out and you see me on the water feel free to call,, if I'm on the reds ill let you know, its not likes its my honey hole dock for slot reds or my speck hole, wintertime reds move around a bunch and you have to run a lot some days to find them and to keep up with them. They are fast and one minute they are all around you and the next there 150 yards or father the other direction. If you would like to book a winter redfish trip just give me a shout.
Good luck the next time your out, it looks like were going to get some high winds and rain in a few days so I guess It's tackle cleaning time.
We're probably not getting out again until after New Years and with Alabama's good fortune, I won't be available until after January 9th now. On Friday we did discuss how beneficial it would be to get some professional instruction as we're soaking up as much as we can these days and throwing darts for the most part when we do go out.

We trolled outside a bit with no luck and I think we saw you and Hotspots take a peek out there as well about the time we headed in. Bottomed fish with some cut bait for snappers and fun before hitting 3 mile for quite a few white trout before another spot and a license check by Florida patrol.

I think we saw some of the action on the bottom machine and on the surface with sitting birds which should have been clues, but at that time, we just didn't know what to do with the information we were given. Thanks for the tips and I'm sure I'll be in touch eventually.

While I have your attention, what's the long term in/nearshore outlook until say the first cobia run? Like i said, I'm thinking I won't be back down until mid-January, and possibly even February considering the Jan 31st end date for deer season in Alabama.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Yeah I hear ya ;)
My boy goes there I'm very proud or him, he's a great son. I've been up there a few times to visit and even caught a game this year. It was very cool. I'll definitely go to some games next year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
Jeff, & jplvr
Great question. These cold fronts seem to help the bull reds, as I’ve always done very well after we’ve had a good cold front.
With the rest of December it should be good fishing for the big reds, just watch the tides and make sure you have some good water movement. Even though these fish are not on the flats they like water moving. If the tide’s just changing or not moving the bite is typically not so good, it’s good to wait at least a good 1.5 –2 hrs after the tide and that’s when the bite really turns on.
So the answer to your question is I think the rest of December is going to be very good as long as this wind stops blowing.
January & February are the coldest months in the Panhandle, but don’t fret, the fishing is still very good. You just have to pick your days and deal with some cold temps.

If you like specks, fish up near the mouth of the rivers in both Escambia & Blackwater Bay. You can catch both specks and reds in the winter, just slow down your presentation and you should have some luck. Try using a Berkley Gulp jerk shad and slow crawl it along the bottom or very slow bounces. I’ve found that the trout and reds are very much like northern bass in the winter. They get lethargic and to get them to strike you almost have to put the bait in front of their faces. Try fishing drop-offs like 3 ft to 8 ft or 6 –12 ft ledges. When it’s really cold this is where the trout will be holding up. And when you hook one, don’t leave; you probably just found a bunch of them. They like to stack up kind of like penguins do in the North Pole for warmth. (I’ve been watching too much Discovery Channel!)

If you like white trout, fish 3 Mile Bridge during the rest of December. January & February and usually produce bigger fish. Try using aBerkley Gulp 3” Shrimp on a ¼oz jig head and you should have plenty of luck. These fish are very aggressive this time of year. You just have to watch your bottom machine and find some structure, anchor up or down current of the structure, and fish just off the edges of it. I like to use my new Minn Kota I-Pilot. I set it and forget it, ok did I really just say that? I’m not cooking a chicken. (Any one get the joke?) I position the boat over the old bridge rubble and fish the edges, that way I don’t get hooked up and lose jig after jig.

With the Cobia run, it really doesn’t start till around March 26 or April 1st; there are some usually caught before these dates starting around the 1st or 2nd week of March, but the real good bite starts around the first week of April and lasts about 6 weeks to 8 weeks and then it tapers off.
This is mostly sight fishing with towers, but if you don’t have a boat, you can go to the pier, but that’s a whole other animal. Both are a lot of fun. If you’re pier fishing, it’s all artificials and if you’re on a boat, it’s both.

Jeff, about your question with the flats blue rods, I really like them. They are very well built and have a very nice fulcrum when fighting fish. I use the 8ft heavy rods for fighting these big reds. Another thing I like about these rods is the fast tip. Since the tip is a fast tip, it allows you to toss a light bait like a pilchard or cigar minnow very far, but this rod also has enough backbone to handle the power of the big reds.

Another cool thing about these rods is the camo blue color; the rod really does almost disappear when looked up at from the water. I notice this when I’ve taken a few pics, and I almost can’t see the rod. This helps when fishing the flats and it doesn’t spook the fish, and it looks pretty cool, too.

Sorry for the late reply with the two questions; it’s been kind of crazy with Christmas so close and running a few redfish trips.

Hope this helps.
Tight Lines.
Capt. John
 

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Jeff, & jplvr
Great question. These cold fronts seem to help the bull reds, as I’ve always done very well after we’ve had a good cold front.
With the rest of December it should be good fishing for the big reds, just watch the tides and make sure you have some good water movement. Even though these fish are not on the flats they like water moving. If the tide’s just changing or not moving the bite is typically not so good, it’s good to wait at least a good 1.5 –2 hrs after the tide and that’s when the bite really turns on.
So the answer to your question is I think the rest of December is going to be very good as long as this wind stops blowing.
January & February are the coldest months in the Panhandle, but don’t fret, the fishing is still very good. You just have to pick your days and deal with some cold temps.

If you like specks, fish up near the mouth of the rivers in both Escambia & Blackwater Bay. You can catch both specks and reds in the winter, just slow down your presentation and you should have some luck. Try using a Berkley Gulp jerk shad and slow crawl it along the bottom or very slow bounces. I’ve found that the trout and reds are very much like northern bass in the winter. They get lethargic and to get them to strike you almost have to put the bait in front of their faces. Try fishing drop-offs like 3 ft to 8 ft or 6 –12 ft ledges. When it’s really cold this is where the trout will be holding up. And when you hook one, don’t leave; you probably just found a bunch of them. They like to stack up kind of like penguins do in the North Pole for warmth. (I’ve been watching too much Discovery Channel!)

If you like white trout, fish 3 Mile Bridge during the rest of December. January & February and usually produce bigger fish. Try using aBerkley Gulp 3” Shrimp on a ¼oz jig head and you should have plenty of luck. These fish are very aggressive this time of year. You just have to watch your bottom machine and find some structure, anchor up or down current of the structure, and fish just off the edges of it. I like to use my new Minn Kota I-Pilot. I set it and forget it, ok did I really just say that? I’m not cooking a chicken. (Any one get the joke?) I position the boat over the old bridge rubble and fish the edges, that way I don’t get hooked up and lose jig after jig.

With the Cobia run, it really doesn’t start till around March 26 or April 1st; there are some usually caught before these dates starting around the 1st or 2nd week of March, but the real good bite starts around the first week of April and lasts about 6 weeks to 8 weeks and then it tapers off.
This is mostly sight fishing with towers, but if you don’t have a boat, you can go to the pier, but that’s a whole other animal. Both are a lot of fun. If you’re pier fishing, it’s all artificials and if you’re on a boat, it’s both.

Jeff, about your question with the flats blue rods, I really like them. They are very well built and have a very nice fulcrum when fighting fish. I use the 8ft heavy rods for fighting these big reds. Another thing I like about these rods is the fast tip. Since the tip is a fast tip, it allows you to toss a light bait like a pilchard or cigar minnow very far, but this rod also has enough backbone to handle the power of the big reds.

Another cool thing about these rods is the camo blue color; the rod really does almost disappear when looked up at from the water. I notice this when I’ve taken a few pics, and I almost can’t see the rod. This helps when fishing the flats and it doesn’t spook the fish, and it looks pretty cool, too.

Sorry for the late reply with the two questions; it’s been kind of crazy with Christmas so close and running a few redfish trips.

Hope this helps.
Tight Lines.
Capt. John
Capt. John,
This information is gold! As a newbie to saltwater fishing, it's perplexing sometimes. Seems like every species requires a different bait, rig, and presentation technique. It's not like putting a cricket on a hook and fishing for bream with a cane pole. :rolleyes:

Thank you for this info! I've printed it to a pdf and saved it.
Nate
 

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Hello Capt. John,
I was with Jplvr the other day at the ramp, that was my Proline we were in. We realy appreciate all the advice you have shared in your posts. We are trying to plan a weekend to take a trip with you in January. I've got all of your in formation from you website. I will be in touch with you after the new year.
Thanks again for the help,
Dimitri
 
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