Red drum finally gathering in huge schools in Sneads Ferry area
Sight-fishing has been excellent for upper- and over-slot fish, guide says
Upper-slot and over-slot red drum are schooling in bays along the New River and ICW in the Sneads Ferry area.
Capt. Allen Jernigan of Breadman Ventures in Sneads Ferry said redfish in his area have been hungry since he’s been able to get back out on the water this week, and they appear to be getting a more active as the weather warms.
“The cold snaps have finally gotten the drum to school,” Jernigan said. “In the past week, we have been sight-fishing, and I have seen schools that may only be a hundred or so fish up to a couple of schools that had over a thousand. These are mostly larger fish, too, ranging from upper-slot to over-slot in size. I haven’t seen an under-slot or barely keeper fish this week.”
Jernigan (910-467-1482) has been concentrating on the bays along the Intracoastal Waterway and the New River. He said the bays with shallow, muddy bottoms collect a little more heat from the sun, and the reds are schooling there. Jernigan said not all of the bays hold big schools of reds, but fish are active enough that they readily give their locations away.
“The water is the clearest it will be at any time of the year right now, and you can really see well,” Jernigan said. “There are also some big black drum swimming along the edges of the schools and feeding on things the red drum root up but don’t catch or don’t eat. These are big black drum; many of them will weigh more than 10 pounds.
Jernigan said redfish have been in very shallow water on the flats, and he has seen some in the grass. He’s found them tailing in the bays several different times, and that’s always a special treat for clients. The key to finding them is moving slowly and spending a lot of time looking. They will push wakes or something to give away where they are. He said many fishermen move too fast and realize the fish are there when the school spooks – and that’s too late.
Jernigan said red drum haven’t been very choosy about baits. He has been mostly throwing Texas Tackle Killer Flats Minnows and Hackberry Hustlers but has had caught some fish on Saltwater Assassin paddletails in the “chicken-on-a-chain” color. Jernigan has used weedless, gold spoons to catch the reds that had moved into the grass and had also caught some slowly rocking gold spoons across the bottom of the shallow bays.
“The best advice I can give someone is to fish slowly and keep an eye on the water around you,” Jernigan said. “The redfish are feeding, but the water is cold and they are moving slowly – and so would any baitfish they are eating. Be especially careful not to get too close to a school and spook them.”
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