Sunlight glinting off the wobbling gold spinnerbait blade flashed in the dingy water, attracting the attention of a spot-tailed marsh marauder, better known as a redfish.
The enraged fish broke from its weedy shoreline lair and bolted toward the vibrating bait, creating a discernible vee-shaped wake. With a quick lunge, the beast smashed into the lure, mangling the dangling wires and stripping line from the reel.
Redfish often hunt along weedy shorelines of the rich delta estuaries of the Gulf Coast. Prowling shorelines looking to inhale whatever morsels they can find, redfish prey heavily upon shrimp, small fish and anything else they can catch. Above all, they love to crush crabs.
“Redfish eat anything, but they love crabs,” said Bobby Abruscato, a professional redfish angler and guide with A-Team Fishing Adventures (251-661-7696/www.ateamfishing.com) in Mobile, Ala. “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.”
NEW SPIN ON REDS
Anglers may use a variety of spinnerbaits to tempt redfish. Safety-pin spinners, the kind most commonly used by bass anglers, employ bent “arms” that suspend one or more blades over a usually skirt-tipped head. An in-line spinner consists of a straight wire extending from the head with a blade rotating around the wire.
Many saltwater anglers throw beetle or harness spinners, also called jighead spinnerbaits. A jighead spinnerbait resembles a safety-pin spinnerbait, but the wire harness temporarily attaches to a lead jighead. Often, anglers tip jigheads with soft plastic minnows or shrimp trailers. Since the components separate, a harness spinner gives anglers considerable flexibility. They can switch blades, jigheads or trailers easily to adjust to changing conditions.
Among the most versatile lures on the market, spinnerbaits work well around thick cover. In dense grass, buzz spinnerbaits along the surface or “wake” them just below the surface. In areas with submerged grass, run baits just over the tops of grass tips, barely touching them. Pause occasionally to let the bait helicopter down into the cover with the blades whirling. Redfish often strike falling baits.
Although usually used in shallow water or around thick cover, spinnerbaits also work in deeper water. In deeper water, “slow-roll” spinners just off the bottom, barely turning the blades. Let the blades plink against oyster shells. Occasionally hit the bottom to make a mud trail. Anglers can also “yo-yo” baits up and down in deeper water.
RICH, DIVERSE ESTUARY
The fourth largest estuary in the United States, Mobile Bay in southern Alabama covers 413 square miles and measures about 31 miles long by 24 miles at its maximum width. It averages about 10 feet deep, but several deep rivers feed into the 250,000-acre Mobile-Tensaw Delta system. Some holes drop to more than 30 feet deep. The dredged Mobile Ship Channel holds very deep water.
The Alabama and the Tombigbee rivers merge into the Mobile River north of the city that bears its name. The Tensaw River branches off the Mobile River. Together, these and several smaller streams create one of the richest and most diverse delta ecosystems in the nation. The Dog, Deer and Fowl rivers enter the western side of the bay. The Fish and Bon Secour rivers flow into the eastern side of Mobile Bay. The Spanish, Appalachee and Blakely rivers also flow into the system. The line of demarcation between fresh and salt water blurs daily so anglers frequently catch redfish and freshwater species in the same areas at the same time.
“The Mobile Bay area offers a variety of fishing opportunities,” said Capt. Lynn Pridgen of Captain Lynn’s Inshore Adventures (251-214-5196/www.Captlynnsinshoreadventures.com. “Even on a bad day, there are unlimited places where we can fish. Fowl River is a hot spot during the winter. The Dog River can produce some decent fish. Redfish move along the banks of those rivers chasing bait.”
Just about anywhere in the salty southern end of the system can produce good catches of redfish.