Many young fishermen have started their careers fishing small lakes, ponds and rivers catching sunfish, perch and, on a good day, a nice largemouth bass. As these young anglers grow, they come to realize that catching the best fish, these bigger bass, is tied to their ability to cast.  Certainly, these fish are often caught in open water areas but, just as often, they are along the shoreline, close to weeds, brush or fallen tress. Placing a  cast within inches of the perfect spot can be the "make or break" in getting that big fish to strike.

Redfish fishing tacticsCasting accuracy can also be critically important in targeting redfish in the Tampa / Clearwater area. Redfish, from an availability and sporting perspective actually have a lot of similarities to a largemouth bass.  They are generally aggressive feeders and put up a healthy fight but what makes them most similar is their distribution.  These fish are available in a large number of southern states and, in the waters that they are found, they inhabit an extremely broad range of environments, much like a largemouth bass in a lake.  Tampa / Clearwater fishing charters targeting redfish may fish anywhere from near shore ocean structure, to beaches, to open flats, to islands, to back bayous and rivers, to mangrove shorelines. It is when fishing these inshore locations, mangrove shorelines in particular, where casting accuracy becomes critically important.

Making accurate casts is not simply about developing the physical skill and muscle memory to repeatedly put a bait in the right location.  It actually starts with tackle.  Obviously, no one would use a stout grouper rod with 40 lbs test to try and cast up into the bushes but even when using basically the right tackle, there are many small details that will aid in casting.  Start by rigging a seven and a half foot medium action spinning rod suited for 10 - 20 lbs line. Match it to a 4000 series reel such as a Shimano Stradic 4000.  Next, what line should be used? Consideration should be given to the type of structure around as well as size of fish likely to be encountered. Having considered these factors, determine the lightest line that will work as lighter line will have less resistance and make casting easier. Also, use braided line as the diameter per pound is thinner than monofilament.  It's easier to cast thread than rope...thinner is better. Many Tampa Fishing Guides will use 10 lbs braided line..knowing that this line strength will handle most of the fish encountered. If Mr. 35 inch shows up, it will require angler skill to land the fish, but it is still possible. Regarding the leader, four feet of 30 lbs test is a good choice as abrasion resistance is needed for the fish that may get up into the mangrove roots.

The next decision is terminal tackle. Know that the easiest baits to cast are those with the most weight towards the hook. This being the case, heavy baits such as cut chunks of fish are a great choice..understanding that live bait may, from time to time, need to be used if fish are eating them better. With that said, redfish aren't usually overly selective eaters. Hook size should be determined by bait size..a 2/0 or 3/0 circle hook is usually sufficient. Weighting is really a key ingredient to accurate casting.  If using a cut bait, a split shot should be placed close to the bait.  This is the easiest bait to cast and is the rigging used on most Tampa Fishing Charters for redfish. If using a live bait and using a weight is acceptable, place the bait a foot or two up the line to allow the bait to have some action. Remember though that the further away from the bait the weight is, the harder it is to make an accurate cast. If the best presentation at the time is to have the bait appear most natural, suspending it under a bobber may be required.  Do understand that this will be the hardest bait to cast accurately for distance however.Clearwater Redfish near mangroves

With proper tackle and rigging, the angler has now put himself in the best position to cast accurately. What remains then is the physical action of executing the cast. This is critically important in targeting "shoreline hugging" redfish as these fish often will only bite if baits are placed up into mangrove caves...overhung indentations along the shoreline that may reach back 3 - 4 feet. The question that should be asked before an angler cast into heavy structure is "How will I stop a bad cast?" Many novice anglers think that flipping the bail over will save them...it won't... or pulling back on the rod, even though the bail is still open.  No again.  The trick is to cast and then immediately find the line with the left hand.  As the bait approaches the target area, the line can be "feathered" to slow it down, or simply pinched to stop it.  The best way to find the line immediately after the cast is released is to place the left hand immediately under the base of the rod and in front of the reel as the line will be right there. This technique allows Tampa Fishing Guides to cast with power towards the target, which improves accuracy, but also allows the bait to be stopped in time if the cast is not perfectly accurate.

Like so many other activities, there are many small skill sets that combine to make an individual much better at a given profession. The ability to cast accurately is a must have skill to consistently catch shoreline redfish in the Tampa Area.

 

 

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