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Catching Redfish On St. George Island!

Aug 17, 2007
"If you can't catch a fish on St. George Island, you're stupid!", the man running the bait shop told me as I bought fishing license, bait shrimp and a fishing cap.

"You can catch trout. The pompano are running now so you might catch a couple of them. Good eating." he said as he tallied up my bill. "Over on the bay side in the state park, you can hang into some good redfish!"

Carefully carrying my free coffee from the bait shop my tackle I had just bought in the other, I walked outside to bask in the early morning sunshine on St. George Island, Florida. The island is less than a mile wide at its widest point. Located across the bay from Apalachicola and East Point, this was my vacation spot for one glorious sun filled week.

St. George Island State Park was only a mile down the beach from where I was staying. This end of the island was only about mile wide with the Gulf of Mexico on one side and Apalachicola Bay on the other. The bay side was where I spent most of my time fishing for Redfish and Trout. During that week I discovered that I was not stupid at all! Not by a long shot!

Redfish, for those who don't know such things, are the salt water fish with the black spot on their tails. There are redfish tournaments all over the gulf coast. I saw my first one on TV one Sunday morning.

The professionals were using a $30,000 boat, rod and reels that were at least a couple of hundred dollars apiece, trolling motor and an expensive array of artificial bait. They caught several keeping sized redfish! I was hooked! I knew where I was going on my vacation! I used my Walmart $39.95 rod and reel special with a $2.95 silver lure and had a ball. Here's how I did it!

Florida State Parks open at 8:00am. I was there when the gate opened and made my way to the boat ramp on the bay side of the island. It wasn't much of a ramp, but then it didn't need to be for me since I didn't have a boat. A lot of the park was still being renovated after the hurricanes of 2005, thus this shallow ramp.

After watching a couple of small skiffs enter the water, I talked with a fisherman in a kayak waiting his turn to launch. He said that he was going after redfish with a golden spoon. After he paddled off, I looked in my tackle box for a gold spoon but couldn't find one. I had two silver spoons that I hung onto my fishing vest and waded into the water. I also had a fish carrying net hooked onto my vest in case I got lucky and actually caught a fish.

Looking out over the bay as I left the beach and walked along a path that had been cut into the weeds guarding the edge of the water, I saw numerous small spits of land emerging from the bottom of the bay. I recognized I was wading around the edges of oyster bars. The bottom was smooth, but as you walked closer to the little islands, small oysters were every where. Luckily I had my rubber water shoes on or I would have cut my feet on the shells. The depth of the bay at this end of the island was from 2' to 4' no matter where I waded.

I tied on a silver spoon and cast it in the deeper water closer to the weeds. Cranking rapidly on the reel handle, something hit the lure. It felt like I had hooked onto a concrete block. Setting the drag on the reel, I let the fish take the line, reeling slowly as he began to tire. In a few minutes I had him. I had caught my first redfish and he was a beauty.

I measured his length with a fabric tape measure I kept in my fishing vest; 17 inches long. Not good enough. The legal size of redfish is from 18" to 27". Anything smaller or larger than those measurements would get you in trouble with the game wardens. During my week on the island I had heard they were everywhere, looking for any fisherman who had a fish that was shy of those measurements by even a quarter inch. I took no chances, letting my redfish go.

I caught several redfish that morning and they were all fun. The next three were keepers, but alas, you could only keep one in your possession at any time, so I kept the biggest in my mesh sack until it was time to go. Cleaning the fish seemed to be more trouble than it was worth, so I let him go also. All in all, my first morning on the bay was great!
About the Author
Bob Alexander is the author and owner of this copyrighted article.
He is well experienced in outdoor cooking, holiday eating and leisure living. Visit his sites at:
http://www.bluemarlinbob.com
http://www.homeandgardenbob.com
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