If you’ve fished the Tampa Bay area very often for redfish, you’ve definitely run into reds “that just won’t eat”. It can be the most frustrating thing in the world! I mean, you can see the fish, they look happy, but for whatever reason, it seems like they just won’t eat anything you throw at them.
There are a variety of reasons why redfish will get lockjaw at times — they are too pressured by other anglers, the water is clear and you have bluebird skies, or the tide isn’t right for them to be very interested in feeding. He’s my tips on how to overcome some of the obstacles and increase your odds of getting those finicky redfish to cooperate with you.
Downsize your tackle.
This one seems like a no-brainer but you’d be surprised at how many people are too lazy to actually do this while fishing a pod of picky redfish. But, this can work very well, especially on those bright, calm, sunny days with gin clear water.
Don’t be afraid to drop your hook size down to a #1 octopus style hook and lower your leader down to 10-15lb fluorocarbon. While you’re at it, lengthen your leader to 6-8 foot if you are using braided mainline.
Simply downsizing your terminal tackle can be a difference maker.
Yeah, you can see the fish. But they can see you too. They may look happy — rolling and milling around — but there’s a good chance that they are very aware of your presence and it’s got them on guard. Back off the school of fish and make sure you have tackle designed to make LONG casts.
Using dead threadfin, greenbacks, mullet, pinfish and ladyfish can work in most situations and in most areas that don’t have a swift-moving current. But, sometimes it’s the ONLY thing that will work. Start cutting up your bait and chum heavily. Then throw a chunk out there and wait. Be patient and try not to move your bait at all. If you move your bait around, it will likely catch some grass or debris off the bottom and prevent a redfish from picking up your bait.
Use bait you’ve never used before — and you’ve never heard of anyone else using either.
On more than one occasion, I’ve been on a school of ornery redfish and looked in my live well and seen fish that nobody would ever call “bait” and thought, “Well, they can’t refuse this more than they’ve been refusing anything else.”. I cut them up, put them on a hook, and wouldn’t you know… they got eaten! I first started doing this out of desperation. However, after several times being successful with this tactic, it is now one of go-to to techniques for catching fish that have been highly pressured by other guides and recreational anglers. I’ve caught redfish on cut up ballyhoo, cut up needlefish, cut up catfish, cut up skipjacks, and more… if you are fishing highly pressured fish, throw them something they haven’t been getting constantly banged over the head with. The results just might surprise you.
Do you have some tips for catching lockjawed, frustrating, uncooperative redfish? If so, I’d love to hear it! Just leave a reply on our post for this article on Facebook.