Targeting Redfish on the Manatee River

Decided to hit the Manatee River today and really search for some redfish. I was going to try and hit every flat and shallow water area I could find. Launched out of Ft. Hamer around 7:45am. Headed over to the adjacent flat that I caught that good red on last time. Working the Spook Jr. in bone and had some strikes and a number of follows. Switched to the 4" shadflash and had a decent snook on and coming to the boat but she got off. Finally caught a 13 1/2" snook on the Spook at 8:17am. Worked the flat thoroughly and no more fish caught.

Moved over to the other side of the river right across from the ramp. Rather shallow there, but adjacent to the channel. Was paralleling the shoreline with the Spook. Working it back in and a big fish struck it from the side and inhaled it. It was a good redfish. She immediately came towards the boat and then went under it. I had to stick my rod in the water and just hang on. She gave me a break and I was able to bring my rod up and around the trolling motor. She fought well and made multiple runs. Finally got her in the net at 9:20am. She measured 28 1/2". Revived and released in good shape.

Moved down to a shallow flat on the north side. Worked it hard but only a couple of strikes on the Spook. There is some deeper water in the back of this flat. Moved across the river to the next flat. Put up the Spook and began throwing the 3" shadflash on 10# test, 20# leader and ML rod. Picked up a nice 20 1/2" redfish off a point inside the flat at 10:39am. Picked up a 15" redfish at 11:03am in this same flat on the same lure. My presentation was to parallel the bank all the way around the flat.

Came out of there and began to parallel the main river bank where I lost two small snook. Went into a large finger of the river and picked up 13" snook at 12:03pm after I missed a fish seconds earlier. It seemed that small snook were all over the points today. I must have lost 10 small snook that just came unbuttoned or spit my lure. Another 13" snook at 12:11pm.

Was still paralleling the bank w/ the 3" shadflash. Reeling it along in 3' of water and it got crushed. Set the hook and it was a good redfish. She fought me for a few seconds and then just sat there. I maintained pressure on her and loosened my drag for the fight to come. Finally, she realized she was hooked and took off. My drag was screaming. She was giving me all I could handle. After multiple runs and a trip around the boat, I was able to subdue this beautiful bronze bomber at 12:30pm. She measured 30 1/2". She was revived and released to test some lucky angler's skill in the future.

Kept going back into this large finger of the river. Picked up at 13 1/2" redfish at 1:22pm on the same lure. Came up on a point with lots of activity. Threw out and caught a 20" redfish just three minutes later. Set the hook on a fish at 1:48pm in 3' of water and she came up and spit my lure. It was a good snook. Caught a 14 3/4" redfish at 2:14pm. Came to the end of the finger and started to work docks going back. Skipped under a dock w/ the 4" shadflash and it hit the center post. Reeled up the slack, felt weight and set the hook. Got the fish out and it was a decent snook of 20 1/2" caught at 2:37pm. Came to the next dock and caught a 13" snook at 2:42pm.

Decided to take a break and take a ride towards 75. Went down there and began working a huge flat. Worked it for a while but no strikes. Farther towards 75 to work another flat and still no strikes. The wind was blowing hard so I decided to get back up river past Ft. Hamer to work some of my usual spots. Working deeper water off a point and caught a huge gar on an Exude Dart at 5:20pm. It must have weighed 20 pounds.

Working a flat way up river I caught a small 12" snook at 6:04pm on the 3" shadflash. Came back down to work the Hamer flat. Switched to a 3" mullet in the redfish color. Threw past a point and got a solid thump on the retrieve. It was a decent redfish. Got her in at 6:45pm and she measured 20 1/2". Getting dark so back to topwater. My final fish was a small 14 1/2" snook at 7:37pm.

Catching two over slot reds was more than I could have hoped for today. Add in the other reds I caught and I was very satisfied. I lost some fish but caught a couple of beauties. I love catching redfish!
Improve Our Fishery - Practice Catch and Release


  • cquinn8304cquinn8304 Posts: 21 Greenhorn
    awesome report and nice fish!
  • barrynflabarrynfla Posts: 592 Officer
    Wow! Those were two beast reds, Dave. Great to see so many snook around. Just another fantastic BA outing. :)
  • Spinfisher1Spinfisher1 Posts: 26 Greenhorn
    Good job Dave! Sent PM
    Only drive into the dock as fast as you want to wreck into the dock
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