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rkotinsky

Epic Tampa Bay Bite At Low Tide - Snook And Schools Of Reds

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Looked at the tide tables and found some good low tides occurring after working hours. Launched 2 hours before low tide and worked my way out to the flats. Saw dozens of mullet schools along the way none of which contained any red fish. Began working the 3rd flat with the absolute low tide occurring within the next 30 minutes. Found a deeper sand hole and began landed small snook after small snook. Watched bait jumping and being chased as well as various larger fins surfacing and chasing bait. Moved a bit further north and saw a big dorsal fin in about 1.5 feet of water. I cast and missed the mark putting the lure 1 foot behind the fish, however, it immediately turned and chased my sardine lure and proceeded to annihilate it. Initially I thought it was a large snook but as it got closer I saw a coppery flash of an over slot red fish! After a great fight I measure her out to 30" and release her with a big smile on my face.

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I proceed to move out of the area assuming the fight would spook the general area. I toss my 2nd line with a gold spoon behind me just in case there are any reds still around and move forward to another area. After moving about 50 feet from the area my trolling rod starts screaming. I grab it and the hook is already set, naturally I assume it is another over slot redfish related to the first one. The fish is strong and powerful and stays down, the typical characteristics of a red. As the fish approaches my kayak I see the shape and shadow of a very large snook which was a bit of a surprise. After a great fight she tires and measures out to 32"! 

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Snook Released!

 

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By this time I am thinking the day cannot get much better, 2 fish in the 30" class in the same trip. However, I am happily mistaken as the beginning of the incoming tide starts and I see 3 massive wakes pushing into my area. I am hopeful that it is the legendary schools of red fish that I have been trying to photograph for the last 3 years and not schools of jacks and mullets. As the wakes start to settle down I see the most remarkable site within 30 feet of my kayak unfold, dozens of red spotted tails. As each of the wakes settles down more tails emerge from the surface, hundreds of red fish are surrounding me and proceeding to feed as if I am not even there. I reluctantly place my casting rod and reel down and grab my Canon 60D DSLR. This time I have a 200mm lens and I am very close to the feeding schools, it is time to realize my dream of catching these fish on camera. I let the shutter roll for the next 5 minutes and the schools stay in place, convinced I have a few good shots I put the camera back and take a deep breathe and pinch myself, fishing time.

FYI - Full sized prints available if interested see my page - http://facebook.com/tampabaykayaker

 

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I carefully work the edges of the schools so as not to spook the pods. I cast my sardine lure and with a few casts I catch a coppery 24" red. Never have I seen such dark colors on a red.
 

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I continue to work the schools and continue to catch red after red. I manage to catch a lot of super aggressive small snook following the tailers along the way as well. Ironically the small snook were a nuisance since I was targeting the schoolers. I snap a few more pictures of the tailers in the sunset and reluctantly leave the water with the fish biting and the reds still tailing even in the dark.
 

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That's the trip of a lifetime ! Great pictures and oversize fish. You're going to be hard to keep out of that spot. Great pictures as well.

Yeah freaky, it will be very difficult to top this trip. I had one a month ago that was almost as good with overslot reds and a 33" snook. However, the schools of reds make this trip the best ever for my record books.

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