December in Florida can be a phenomenal time to fish out of the kayak. There is little rain, temps typically average in the high 60s or low 70s, and the negative low tides leave kayak anglers ample opportunities to hunt down stealthily feeding redfish. After a recent scouting trip to Pine Island Sound and seeing this week’s ideal weather, it was a no brainer that I was going to take my brother and pops out on Pine Island Sound and put them on their first tailing redfish.
After witnessing the detrimental effects of the excessive freshwater discharges from Lake Okeechobee first hand while doing some testing for the Calusa Waterkeepers, my brother, Scott, and father, Terry, were both excited to get away from the Caloosahatchee River and experience a new fishery. For more information on the Calusa Waterkeepers, Click Here. For more information on how big sugar is destroying our estuaries in South West Florida, Click Here.
Our morning started off ideal for chasing tailing redfish. The winds were nonexistent, a light fog shaded us from the sun, and the tide was in the last two hours of the outgoing. The calm winds make for easier maneuvering and more accurate casts; the fog helps keep the fish from becoming aware of your vessel leaving anglers the advantage of getting closer to the fish; and the low outgoing tide can be one of the most productive times for finding tailing redfish.
Before throwing my brother and pops to the wolves, or rather the frustrations of fishing for tailing redfish, I had them watch a quick video I made to teach anglers How to Cast to Tailing Redfish. After a quick tutorial and explaining to them the nature of a redfish feeding in shallow water, they were confident that they could get the job done.
We were fortunate to find our first tailing redfish within a very short distance of the launch, and from there it was game was on. My pops began maneuvering the tandem kayak while my brother focused intently on the direction he had last seen the tailing fish. Often a redfish will tail for a short period of time, and then slowly move undetected until finding another bait deep in the turtle grass causing them to tail once again. During this time in limbo, it is best to sit still and wait until the fish once again gives up its location.
After the redfish tail popped back up, Scott asked me which way I thought the fish was headed and then made a cast in that direction. The first cast was just a few feet out of range, so he reeled in and placed a perfect second cast in front of the fish. Immediately, I knew the fish would eat and sure enough…thwack…ziiiing….”feeesh on!” A perfect start to the day.
The next few hours were a bit slow. The fog lifted and the tide was getting ready to turn. It wasn’t until after we ate lunch and the tide began coming back in that we had our next opportunity at tailing fish. My pops made many good casts on multiple fish and finally convinced one to eat only to have the hook pull. Next time he knows to SET THAT HOOK! Although he wasn’t able to land his first red, he learned that the tug is the drug and is already talking about the next trip.
As we made our way back to the launch, I spotted a red nose down tail up about 10 feet from my yak. I quietly set down my paddle, picked up my rod, and made a beauty of a flip to this fish. In the background my brother pointed out my intense stance to my pops, and they both about died laughing as I set the hook Bill Dance style into this red’s mouth. I landed the fish and let it go to be caught another day.
All in all, it was an awesome experience showing my brother and pops the allure of fishing for tailing redfish in skinny water. While we didn’t all land one, we did all hook up which is more than we could have asked for!
Merry Christmas Everyone and Good Fishing,