We spent 15 minutes on the phone with Capt. Ross Gallagher to discuss floating soft baits for tailing red fish with the Hogy Original in Charlotte Harbor, Fla. Here's what we found out..
Location: Charlotte Harbor, FL
Tides: Low slack tide and beginning of incoming.
Approach: Angling for tailing red fish is one of the greatest challenges in light tackle fishing. These easily spooked fish will feed in water less than 12 inches deep, scouring the bottom and searching for bait fish and crustaceans through dense sea grass.
Rigging Selection: A 5/0 Un-Weighted Swim Bait Hook is perfect for presenting a soft bait.
Bait Selection: The Hogy 7-inch Original is an ideal imitator of finger mullet scattering across the flats.
Why This Bait? The Hogy 10-inch Original is a perfect size to tempt these big bull redfish into biting. It’s also easy to cast a long ways when rigged on the 2oz darter head. It is great to mimic offshore menhaden or sardines that these schools of redfish are chasing.
Colors: Bright colors like the bone or bubblegum offer increased visibility in dark or muddy water. When fishing very clear water, go with a natural color like the amber Sand Squid.
Retrieve: Presenting a soft bait properly in these difficult conditions requires a unique approach. I’ve found the Hogy 7-inch Original to be extremely effective in the thickest grass. Casting accuracy is top priority, as a bait must be placed just beyond and toward the head of a tailing redfish. Your first cast may be your best opportunity for a strike, but repeated casts may be necessary to get the attention of a feeding fish. The floating soft bait should be retrieved in a walk-the-dog manner, utilizing long pauses to maintain the bait in the strike zone.
Don’t be afraid to reel the bait in super fast either, sometimes presenting the big soft bait as a bait fish trying it’s best to quickly escape will drive the redfish crazy.
Hook-Set: While top water hits can be exciting and explosive, they require a great deal of patience with the hook set. It is very common for a fish to repeatedly swat at a bait without inhaling it. It’s best to be sure the fish has eaten the bait before driving the hook home so wait until you feel the weight of the fish.