Spooning Redfish on Oysterbeds

Along Florida’s Nature Coast, Crystal River’s inshore waters spill out into the Gulf of Mexico, and as the incoming and outgoing tides rush over stacks of oysterbeds, redfish get on the feed. I’ve fished for reds plenty of times in Mississippi, Louisiana and other such locales containing areas of flat muddy bottoms, but this spot was a little bit different. Captain Danny Allen of Cedar Key Outfitters explained that the Crystal River waters are a combination of sandy flats that lead into grassy banks, but with the added sticky structure of submarine limestone chunks and oysterbeds in the muck.

The snaggy arena required utilizing specific lures that would bounce over the beds and chunk rock, thus weedless ¼ to ½-ounce Johnson Silver Minnow spoons were put into action. Color patterns included chartreuse/silver, black/sliver and straight up gold. Captain “Make the cast right to the grassbanks, especially in the little cubby holes that have that limestone rock and oyster bars,” stated Allen. “Reds will push up on the flats on the flood tides and hang around that structure.” A bounce here, a bump there, and two casts later I was connected to a 26-inch red.

For gear, as Crystal River reds generally range between 4 to 15 pounds, a 7 to 8 foot medium power, fast action rod fit with a medium size reel fits the bill, such as an Okuma Stealth Sniper 7-6 foot matched with a Penn 2500 Battle reel. Spool up with 30-pound Braid, then uni to uni knot a 6 foot section of 25 to 30-pound Fluorocarbon Leader, to which a loop knot is used to tie directly to the spoon.

Regarding proper spooning method, Allen adds, “I like to slow roll the lure, meaning I bring it in at a slow to moderate pace so it wobbles just above the seafloor. If I’m really bumping stuff, I will reel just a hair faster so as not to snag up.” The slow, mesmerizing flash of the spoon gets shellacked by redfish; they simply cannot let the attraction pass by unmolested. Savvy spooners will employ the lure especially during murky water conditions or times when visibility is diminished. In a two-hour session, Allen and I dialed in 15 redfish from schoolie size up to slots at 26 inches long. No matter where you wet a line, when exploring redfish grounds with a ton of snags and hangs, spoon feed the reds for maximum success.

Photo courtesy of WTF

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