Gulf Coast Fisherman Magazine Vol 38 No. 4 | Page 6

by John N. Felsher Blades of Fury! A NEW SPIN ON REDFISHING R ipping tides flowing out toward the Gulf of Mexico formed riffles along the rock jetty, but also created tiny slack spots between the rocks. In these small eddies, nervous baitfish flickered on the surface as they crowded together as close to the rocks as possible as mutual protection against an unseen predator. The angler tossed a spinnerbait parallel to the jetty and ran the bait as close to the rocks as possible. Relatively snagless, spinnerbaits can navigate through entangling structure where traditional jigheads and other lures would hopelessly snag. Reflecting sunlight, the wobbling gold blade flashed in the clear, green water. As the lure passed a tiny eddy, the gold glint disappeared as a powerful predator engulfed the swirling temptation and headed for open water with the reel screaming for mercy. “Redfish sometimes chase bait in open water, but normally, they’re ambush predators that wait for bait to come to them,” said Jimmy Dooms, a professional redfish angler who also guides in Laguna Madre and Baffin Bay near Corpus Christi, Texas. “Anything that can get in the way of normal tidal flow could make a good ambush place for a big redfish.” Much to their chagrin when fishing tournaments in coastal areas, many bass anglers discovered long ago that spinnerbaits not only attract largemouths, but big redfish. In fact, anglers frequently catch largemouth bass and redfish in the same waters at the same time when throwing spinnerbaits. “Fishing for redfish is a lot like fishing for bass,” said Stephen Browning, a professional angler who has fished both bass and redfish tournaments. “A redfish will hit anything that a bass will hit. I’ve caught redfish on spinnerbaits and many other bass lures.” The whirling blades reflect sunlight, mimicking baitfish. That attracts big spottailed marauders patrolling along weedy shorelines, jetties or other cover looking for baitfish. Churning blades may even annoy lethargic redfish into striking reactively. The wobbling blade also resembles the rounded rear swimming legs of crabs — and big reds love nothing better than crunching crabs! “Redfish eat anything, but they love crabs,” advised Bobby Abruscato, a professional redfish angler and guide from Mobile, Al. “I’ve probably caught more redfish on spinnerbaits than any other bait. With the blades spinning, I believe redfish think a spinnerbait is a crab. The flash from the blades might also produce some reaction bites.” Spinnerbaits generally fall into three categories — conventional “safety-pin” lures, in-line spinners and beetle spinners. Commonly used for bass fishing, safety-pin spinners employ a bent “arm” that suspends one or more blades over a usually skirttipped head. An in-line spinnerbait uses a straight wire extending from the head with a spinner rotating around the wire. Most commonly used in salt water, a “beetle” type spinnerbait resembles a safetypin bait, but usually consists of a wire harness temporarily attached to a standard lead jighead tipped with a plastic trailer. Also called a “harness” spinner, this bait gives anglers considerable versatility. Since the components separate, anglers can quickly switch blades, jigheads or trailers without retying to adapt to changing conditions. Baits also come with varied head shapes. Round heads sink faster and bounce off objects better than elongated “minnow head” baits, which may lodge in crevices between shells or rocks. Some minnow head jigs almost look like natural baitfish and slither more easily through thick vegetation. Some heads look like shrimp and work best with shrimp trailers. Blades also come in many shapes and sizes, but generally fall into three categories. A nearly round Colorado blade displaces the most water, gives off good vibrations and can go deeper quicker. Not entirely weedless, a long, slender willow-leaf blade won’t cut through solid vegetation mats, but can slip through small openings in broken weed patches. An Indiana blade resembles something in the middle and combines aspects of each. “I usually use a single Colorado blade for redfish (Continued on page 20.) Redfish often hit conventional safety-pin spinnerbaits typically used for largemouth bass. Lisa Snuggs shows off a Photos by author. redfish she caught on a spinnerbait while fishing in the marshes near Cocodrie, Louisiana. 6 GULF COAST FISHERMAN W W W. G U L F F I S H I N G. C O M