Barry Stokes, the host of “Let’s Fish TV,” has been fishing since he was 5 and is a former bass tournament fisherman with an impressive record. When he’s not fishing for bass, Stokes sometimes takes his Mercury-powered Blazer bass boat ...
Four helpful tips for boosting your catch this spring
Redfish are among the most popular saltwater inshore species, and spring is a favorite time to target them by capitalizing on the flutter and flash of weedless spoons.
In spring, rising water temperatures bring on a boost in backcountry baitfish activity that fires up hungry redfish. Seasonal fronts and shifting winds that coincide with this uptick in activity can also churn up the water on shallow flats. When conditions seem dire for most artificial baits and lures, it’s a prime opportunity to take advantage of the fluttering action and search-bait prowess of a weedless spoon.
Spoons let you cover a larger area of water to decipher transitional patterns, and the flash and vibration that emit from this tried-and-true old-school lure are rarely rejected when retrieved with a thoughtful technique.
Which Weight for Weedless
Weedless spoons are designed with a wire weedguard and curved shape that allow them to slide over structure or cover that would typically ensnare most other lures. Two of the best weights/sizes to have on hand for inshore fishing are 1/4 and 1/2 ounce. When you’re deciding on a spoon to use, not only do you want to closely match the size of the spoon with the size of the bait you’re seeing in an area, it’s also important to consider the action.
Lighter spoons will flutter at a slower rate and are best used in shallow water (1 to 3 feet) when targeting redfish that are feeding on bait in the middle or top of the water column. Lighter spoons are also easier to fish and cast when fishing downwind in skinny water, in light current and in wind-protected areas such as backcountry creeks or rivers.
Heavier spoons are more effective when fished closer to the bottom, around drop-offs and at quicker retrieve rates than lighter spoons. For instance, a 1/2-ounce spoon is a good choice when targeting fish that are tailing, when casting into stronger wind or fishing in current.
Rigging for Best Action
When using a weedless spoon with a fixed eye, you can tie directly to a 20- to 30-pound-test fluorocarbon leader using a loop knot, which gives the spoon the maximum amount of action and lets it flutter down during your retrieve. If you are concerned about line twist in strong current, use a spoon with a built-on swivel or attach a ball-bearing swivel directly to the spoon. In this case, a snug knot such as a Palomar or improved clinch knot works best.
Retrieving it Right
How you retrieve a spoon in churned-up water matters. You want plenty of erratic action that causes fluttering and flashing. As soon as the spoon hits the water, start retrieving it back to the boat by lifting your rod tip up and then cranking the reel handle to take up slack as you lower the rod tip. Let the spoon flutter down about 4 to 6 inches, then lift your rod tip again. The best retrieve speed is low to medium so that the spoon hovers just over the edges of seagrass or oysters, or along the edges of mangrove roots.
Get Ready for the Strike
When backcountry reds are chasing baitfish in shallow water, and your spoon is in the right place at the right time, be ready for hard, explosive strikes. In many cases, they will hook themselves, but once you reel up any slack and come tight, add a couple of firm hooksets to be sure. Another advantage of fishing with spoons is that, in most cases, the fish is hooked in the upper lip or corner of the mouth, making for an easy release.
Windy spring days and muddy waters don’t mean you have to limit yourself to circle hooks and live bait. Once you’ve “spoon-fed” your first red, you just might be stocking your tackle trays with a few more of these flashy and reliable weedless wonders.