Cold Weather Reds

reds0By Ed Snyder/Outdoors
Cutting through 30 degree wind-chills kept us hunkered deep within our coats for warmth. As our craft rounded a corner of the salt marsh we suddenly came upon an incredible scene which immediately had me putting brakes on the throttle. About 100 seabirds (pelicans, seagulls and terns alike) were dipping, diving, and flaring over a huge school of fish feeding on the surface. This amazing sight was occurring one very chilly morning in December after a strong arctic cold front had buffeted Galveston East Bay with near gale force winds, chilling the bay surface temp by ten degrees overnight.

Rounding the corner we spotted 100's of seabirds surface feeding

Rounding the corner we spotted 100’s of seabirds surface feeding

On launching the next morning from the Yacht Basin we found lower than normal tides keeping us from motoring into east bay forcing us to make a chilly run to Stingaree Marina instead. Turning into the bay at the Stingaree cut we throttled out towards a distant grass-line and the amazing scene we were about to experience.

2012 Rerun In Memorial for Rick Moyer, Beloved “Sweetie” to Nancy Bachman

– Ed Snyder

After spotting the bird activity we throttled down, dropping the troll-motor in to slowly move towards the feeding action, being careful not to spook the fish. Not knowing what species were surface feeding, thoughts of speckled trout entered my mind, but our first cast produced a red-fish hookup with our second, third casts hooking up with red-fish as well.

Pleasantly surprised to find such a huge pod of red-fish chasing and feeding on a massive school of baitfish, we moved into the frenzy with spoon rigged rods. The birds were frantic, we were frantic, and the reds were definitely frantic. We had up with rigged silver spoons for speckled trout earlier, and we REALLY didn’t have the time to make the switch to red-fish gold. But we were literally hooking up with silver spoons on almost every cast. This by chance occurrence would prove to become one our most unforgettable fishing day of days.

Baitfish trying to flee the maws of hungry redfish

Baitfish trying to flee the maws of hungry redfish

What happened was the strong cold front winds caused a lower than normal tide situation in the bay, draining the shallow marshy areas, which in turn forced the red-fish out into deeper bay waters along with the baitfish they were feeding on. This in turn attracted flocks of sea birds that began diving and feeding on the bait trying to escape the hungry maws of the rampaging reds. Then, we stumbled upon this amazing scene to start catching redfish who were greedily slurping our spoons. Natures cycle of “predator to prey” for sure but a very exciting cycle for us to encounter. Lady luck was truly on our side this day!

Nancy Bachman showing off her very first redfish

Nancy Bachman showing off her very first redfish

All we had to do was to slowly cruise up and down the yardage of feeding gulls with our troll-motor, casting spoons, catching reds, and dodging diving birds. The size of the reds varied from 30-plus inches to 18 inch rat reds below the keeper slot of 20-to-28 inches, with many of the redfish being within the keeper slot. After 2 hours of this incredible action, without another boat in sight, we managed to box 3 limits (9 reds) measuring from 22 to 28 inches.

Silver spoons were our clincher baits for this action and not the normal red-fish gold. We found by reeling them subsurface on a steady medium speed, then popping (rod jerks) every 3 feet to allow our spoons to flutter down, the reds would pick up on the falling, flashing spoon resembling an injured shad and slam it.

These fish were very active and aggressive all along the 2-ft to 6-ft marsh drop offs, especially within the deeper guts at the entrances to the marsh. There must have been hundreds of reds massed within that 100 yard stretch of water feeding and waiting for the high tide to restore the water to more normal levels in the marsh.

Nancy and Rick hefting our 3-angler limit of 60-plus lbs

Nancy and Rick hefting our 3-angler limit of 60-plus lbs

We boated 27 reds, but lost just as many, losing several huge reds to straightened hooks and busted lines. About 15 of those 27 reds marked the 20 to 28 inch keeper limit, from which we boxed our three (3) person (9) red-fish limit weighing over 60 lbs. This was very exciting action with a memorable fishing trip enjoyed and an experience shared by friends.

Finally, after two hours of this heavy red-fish action, another boat of anglers spotted the fishing action and moved in on our spot. As they arrived we decided to leave. Besides, we were tired, very hungry, and thirsty. The fishing action was so intense we had actually forgotten to eat our lunches.

Heading back in for the boat-ramp, laughing and high five-ing as we went, we were still buzzing from the adrenalin rush of catching so many fish, …that is… until we suddenly realized that we would have to clean all those reds!

Bait caster and spinning rods and reels spooled with 12-lb test mono rigged with Johnson Sprite Silver Spoons were our catching gear with red-fish cleaned and prepared on half-shell for the smoker grill.

This Ed Snyder/Outdoors article sponsored by Miss Nancy’s Bait Camp, The Beach Triton News, Fishing, and

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One Response to “Cold Weather Reds”

  1. Nancy Bachman says:

    Thanks for the tribute t Sweetie!! That day truly was special for us!! A great memory!!

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