Sometimes redfish are ridiculously easy to catch — when they're schooled up and feeding, they'll hit anything that lands near them. But other times, they can be a real challenge, particularly when you're chasing hard-fished reds in clear, shallow water. In those situations, you might need to get stinky.
|When redfish are a challenge to catch, it’s time to make a stink — with scent baits! A scented soft plastic fished with patience and finesse will usually fool nice redfish like this one.|
Scent baits, some of which are stinky to human noses, have a magical effect on spooky reds. Not only will they eat them, they'll go out of their way to gulp them down. But using the scented soft plastics is a bit of an art. Here are some tips top guides — and the fish — have taught me:
- Scent works best in areas with high current flow. The flow distributes the smell down-current, luring fish in from considerable distances. Not surprisingly, scent baits work best on days with the strongest tide flows, around the new and full moons each month.
- If you can put a scent bait in the path of moving fish, you'll almost always get bit. Scope out their line of travel and put your bait far ahead of them, then allow them to swim up to it. No splash means no spooked redfish.
- For hard-fished reds, little or no movement of the lure is best — just let it rest on the bottom like a tired crustacean waiting to be eaten. Give it just the slightest twitch when the fish is 2 to 3 feet away, then hang on!
- Crab and shrimp imitations are best for these presentations — both are favorite foods of reds prowling the flats. The Berkley Gulp! Crab and the Powerbait Crab are effective, as is the Z-Man Scented Crab.
- You can also turn any soft plastic, including the Offshore Angler Crab, into a scent bait by adding sprays such as Yum F2 Saltwater, Berkley Gulp! Alive, Berkley Powerbait, and Bang, among others.
- Don't be conservative in using scents — add sprays often, dip frequently if you use a jar-type bait, and change out any scent bait that seems to no longer have lots of scent emanating from it. The more attractant you can get into the water, the more the fish will be able to home in on it.
- Use short-shank live bait hooks in Octopus or semi-circle style, typically in size 1/0. These small hooks are unobtrusive, and their circle design makes them self-setting; when a fish eats the bait, all you have to do is tighten up and start reeling.
- Scent baits can also be effective in deeper water where you can't see the fish — drift them under a small foam float along docks and mangrove edges where falling tides create lots of water movement. Fished just like live bait, these tasty lures frequently connect with big reds you might miss with conventional artificials.
Learn more about fishing autumn runs of redfish at Bass Pro 1Source.
Shopping for fishing gear? The saltwater fishing experts at Offshore Angler have brought together all the rods, reels, fishing combos, lures, terminal tackle, and tackle bags you'll need when fishing the big blue sea, or up into the mangroves.