Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg Redfish Fishing
Charter fishing for redfish in St. Petersburg/Tampa Bay with Captain Wade Osborne could be described as “stupid fishing.” At least that’s what Drew Paolella from Madison, New Jersey called it after a charter of non-stop redfish catching. Drew exclaimed “this is stupid fishing, you just cast out and catch one redfish after the other.” Drew’s been coming back ever since.
Redfish are often referred to as bulldogs; Tampa Bay’s version of the bonefish. Osborne and many local fishing guides agree that if you took a redfish and a snook of equal size and tied them together tail to tail the redfish would out-pull and drown the snook. The redfish’s will to survive make it one of Osborne’s favorite inshore species to pursue on light tackle or fly.
Redfish can be pursued year-round however, from early spring through late fall is when the large schools of redfish invade the local grass flats of St. Petersburg/Tampa Bay. At times these schools of redfish can reach from 100–300 fish. When redfish schools of this magnitude are encountered the fishing or catching can be non-stop for hours on end. Afishionado’s best May fishing charter was with Gary Heaton from American Fork, Utah. Heaton and two other anglers caught 86 redfish from 26 to 34 inches in five hours. However, I topped that with three anglers from Ocala who caught 96 redfish 26-33 inches on October 6, 2007 in just five hours.
During the high tide, redfish cruise mangrove shorelines, oyster beds and grass flats foraging for crabs, shrimp and bait fish. Once located, live bait chumming makes it possible to hook and land many of these redfish. When a large school of redfish are actively feeding boat-side on chum they will stay put and feed for hours as long as they are not spooked.
Redfish: Red Drum
Bag Limit: One fish per person, per day.
Slot Size: 18 to 27 inches.