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While Capt. Steven was not on the water Wednesday I had several Captain friends’ call with several reports that I would like to share. While the day was blustery and cloudy the fishing action was decent.

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Large schools of Redfish are roaming the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /><st1:place w:st="on"><st1:PlaceType w:st="on">Ft.</st1:PlaceType> <st1:PlaceName w:st="on">Desoto</st1:PlaceName></st1:place> area. I had one report of 3 schools all with over 100 redfish each cruising the flats. The fish were very spooky with winter time crystal clear water and low tides. The best action was up in the mangroves when the water got high enough. Appears the redfish became more at ease with the cover of mangroves. One report had 7 reds up to 30” and another reports had 5 reds all 26-29”. Nice trout to 24” were taken also.

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Technique is simple, expert or novice can successfully fish reds like this. The bait of choice is a cut white bait or threadfin. Freshness is important; you can cast net or use a sabiki rig to quickly capture some quality baits. Long casts are necessary so a light rod at least 7.5’ loaded with 10 pound braided line is a must. Connect 3’ of 25 pound fluorocarbon leader and you are set. Attach either a jig head or fly line with a 1/0 circle hook. Both work well while the jig head while not as stealthy will cast much further. If you are not inclined to gather bait shrimp is another great choice. Clip the tail off then tail hook with either a jig or circle hook. You can hook through the horn but hooking through the tail will cast further.

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Fresh bait will fill the area with sent helping to attract the reds, you will also attack pinfish, crabs etc which can be a nuisance. This is all very basic but you have to be stealthy.

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Daylight savings time is March 8; longer day’s means warmer water which in turn means baitfish will soon invade the Tampa Bay region. Follow the bait will be schools and schools of Spanish mackerel followed by the spring King Mackerel season.

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