By Fred Garth

Fishing for reds and specs during the summer months can be like gathering rocks from a gravel road. These guys are prolific and hungry and would probably eat a rock if it resembled a baitfish. Wintertime, is a whole different deal up here in the Panhandle of Florida where I live. The fish get finicky, they find deep holes, they swim up river where the spring-fed water is warmer, and instead of catching them from my dock, I actually have to travel a few miles from my home. Ain’t that a bitch!

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The Freditor with his prize redfish and 8-weight weapon

A few years ago I found a stock of redfish that’s only a 20-minute kayak paddle from my house. Since then I’ve become an expert in scaring redfish. I’m talking a PhD, black belt, Zen master of running them off. I can frighten them with a fly rod, a spinning rod, a bait caster, and apparently even my cologne. I must be a fool for fish because no matter how many times I don’t catch ‘em, I keep trying. If nothing else, I’m persistent.

This past January, I paddled down to my redfish friends expected to see them whisk away as I approached. I was standing up, poling my kayak with my paddle when I when I saw a school of about 50 fish in a foot of gin clear water just 30 feet from the boat. The sky was gray and I had the clothes to match. I crouched down and quickly shot the fly a few feet ahead of the school and bounced it slowly along the sandy bottom. Mind you, it seemed the 1,000th time I’d done this over the years with minimal results.

Suddenly, a fish tugged softly on the lure and I set the hook. He ran a hundred feet or so as I tightened the drag, sat down and prepared for battle. Ten minutes later I had him next to kayak so I could remove the hook and get a photo. I tied a stringer through his gill and paddled around until he was strong enough to be released. The rod is an 8-wt. The lure is an original, called a Rocket, tied by a friend of mine, Dr. Greg Speer. The location is somewhere in Northwest Florida near my house. That’s all the info I’m giving out on that subject.

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