These Guys Are Smart!

By April the water is warming and the fish are moving from schooling behavior towards more independent small pods, singles and pairs of fish. When they do have a tendency to school, they’re more of a loosely associated grouping where you’ll have an area two acres in size that has 80 fish in it, but they won’t be grouped up real tight.

          It’s a lot like you see cattle in a field, where sometimes they’re just strewn all over, and other times they’re grouped up together. Redfish get like that, where they’re in the same general area, but not in a herd or school.

The majority of our fish will be slot-sized, and the Indian River and the Mosquito Lagoon historically offer the better fishing in April, although last year the Banana River really turned on and was surprisingly good. They’re really focused on small food that time of year and on small baitfish fry just hatching for spring.

Redfish basically have a very varied diet in springtime because there are so many new baitfish hatching and a variety of crustaceans for them to feed on. April redfish want all the different nondescript mud minnows and glass minnow baitfish, but at the same time they’ll eat a shrimp or small crab in a heartbeat.

Shrimp are still running in April, so they’re a major forage item for redfish that month. Finger mullet are another good bait to throw at them, and keep in mind that a lot of the mullet are really small in April.

Longer Casts, Lighter Baits

I like to use a 7½-foot Lamiglass Indian River Series medium light spinning rod, which really allows for longer casts with lighter weight baits. This is really important because it lets me avoid having to get in tight to the fish. Even though they’re loosely associated groupies, one fish will alert the entire school to your presence and shut down the bite or move all the fish off. So you want to make the longest casts possible, and a 7½-foot rod accomplishes that.

I’ll have the reel spooled up with four-pound Sufix 832 Braid, which is the diameter of four-pound monofilament, so it casts like four-pound mono. I use the dark green color, not the hi-vis color because it’s more stealthy on the flats and looks like a piece of grass, whereas the hi-vis stands out and makes the fish act a little strange.

For leader, I like three feet of 15-pound Sufix fluorocarbon. For lures, I throw a Rapala SubWalk 07 with a white body, Rapala Twitchin’ Raps in olive green and Saltwater Assassin silver mullet four-inch Turbo Shad on a 1/8-ounce jighead. These are small, light baits that reflect the size of the baitfish this time of the year.

Up-Wind Approach Works Best

I always try to approach the area I plan to fish from up-wind direction, which allows you to get the most out of your cast. But more importantly, when in the Mosquito Lagoon, there is no tide. So the fish feed into the wind. Position your boat up-wind, and you know the fish are coming to you, not moving away from you.

The average redfish in spring is 24 inches and 4.5 pounds. These are slot-sized fish that are very educated, so you really have to be on your “A-Game”, which is the case in most of the areas of Florida where the fish get a lot of fishing pressure.

Tight Lines and Good Fishing,
Captain Rick Murphy