Using largemouth tactics to tempt spot-tailed marauders
As the weather warms, many Mississippi bass anglers head to the coast for vacations or to try a different type of fishing. When they do, they typically bring their old familiar freshwater techniques to saltier environments.
Redfish can live in fresh water. Largemouth bass can tolerate some salinity. In the brackish river deltas of the Mississippi coast, bass and redfish share many waters and frequently attack the same prey, often at the same time.
Catching redfish closely resembles bass fishing in many ways. Some people call redfish “channel bass.” For both, anglers usually move slowly along shorelines throwing lures into any pockets or other likely hiding places. Both species commonly lurk in the weeds or behind objects to ambush prey. Since both species regularly prey upon the same forage, they naturally strike the same lures that simulate those morsels.
“A redfish will hit anything that a bass will hit and vice versa,” said Stephen Browning, a Bassmaster Classic veteran who occasionally fishes for redfish. “I’ve caught redfish on conventional bass safety-pin style spinnerbaits and many other bass lures.”
A redfish will hit anything that a bass will hit and vice versa. I’ve caught redfish on conventional bass safety-pin style spinnerbaits and many other bass lures.
Among the most versatile lures, spinnerbaits attract fish from top to bottom. Anglers can buzz spinnerbaits across the surface, wake them slightly beneath the surface, through mid-depths or roll them just off the bottom. Whirling blades reflect sunlight, creating flash that mimics baitfish. Rounded Colorado blades even imitate the flickering back swimmer fins on crabs, and redfish love to crunch juicy crabs!
Generally preferred by bass anglers, safety-pin spinners employ bent “arms” that suspend one or more blades over skirted heads. An in-line spinnerbait uses a straight wire extending from the head with a blade rotating around it.
Many saltwater anglers use “beetle” spinners, also known as “harness” spinners. A beetle spinner resembles a safety-pin spinnerbait, but it consists of a wire harness attached to a jighead. Anglers tip jigheads with soft-plastic shrimp or minnow trailers. Since the components separate, anglers can easily try new trailers or different blades.
Mullets, another favored redfish prey, habitually swim near the surface and even stick their noses out of the water. Many bass topwater baits replicate mullet action. Big “walk-the-dog” lures move across the surface with a scintillating side-to-side motion like crippled mullets. Anglers can toss these hefty baits long distances to search for fish.
“I walk baits with a repetitive twitch motion with a snap of my wrist so they zigzag from side to side,” said Mark Wright with Legends of the Lower Marsh Charters in Pass Christian. “Every bait has a different timing based upon its size, shape, and other factors. A redfish strikes more out of reaction to the action than homing in on a specific color.”
Crankbaits resemble baitfish and dive under the water when pulled. In salty water, use shallow-diving crankbaits with strong wobbling action. For colors, try something that looks like mullets or other baitfish.
This list barely scratches the surface of what redfish might hit. Anything that tempts a bass, it will interest a redfish too!