Understanding how redfish react to these "bad conditions" will place your boat where it needs to be to put limits in the box.
Some inshore anglers hate cold and low water, but I love it!
I love it because it's easier to find redfish.
They literally have less water to swim in, making locating them very simple.
So where do I find them when the water gets low? How do I know where to start?
Targeting Redfish after a Cold Front
To target redfish during cold, crappy weather we have to understand a couple things:
- redfish feeding behavior
- water depth is not uniform
- effects of a strong cold front
Redfish are a patrol-heavy species.
They are less likely to stage at one spot, like speckled trout, and have bait come to them.
Instead, they will move through an area, usually near a shoreline or aquatic grass, like what you see in this video.
They typically put their sides against the shoreline or grass mat, staying near as they patrol for forage.
They do this in ponds inside the marsh, and these ponds are relatively "shallow" at 1-4ft deep
They look like this one here, which is about a half mile across.
So where do they go in this pond when the water gets cold and low?
Let's explore that answer by first understanding the nature of water depth in the marsh.
Understanding the "Stairs" Concept
If you know what's inside Inshore Fishing 101, then you already know where the shallow and deep water is in this pond.
You also know to view the marsh as being a set of stairs that fish go up and down on with the water level.
There are different parts of the stairs, with the highest level being shallow water, or "top" of the stairs.
The lowest level is the deepest water, or "bottom" of the stairs.
For those of you who haven't, let me illustrate it anyway:
Water Level "A"
The highest level or "top" of the stairs.
This is the water that will turn to land after a strong cold front rolls through the marsh (i.e. one blowing 25-30+ knots out of the west or northwest).
Water Level "B"
Where some water remains after a cold front, just enough to get your boat into, usually three feet or less. Basically the "middle" of the stairs.
Water Level "C"
The deepest water, usually 6ft+, but could be 3-5ft deep, depending on the relative depth in the surrounding area.
This is the lowest water level, or the "bottom" of the stairs.
What worked before, doesn't now.
Sometimes you hear anglers complaining that water is too low and they can't fish their usual spots, all because of the cold, crappy weather.
They are correct in one way: If their spot was at the "top" of the stairs, it'd be devoid of water after a strong cold front.
But their assessment that it makes for bad fishing is completely wrong.
The fishing is good, they're just failing to adapt to the conditions.
Remember fish are lazy, and they're not going to do any more work than what they need.
This means they won't be far away when the water drains out.
The solution is simple.
With normal water levels, redfish can be on any level of the "stairs".
When A drains out, redfish are forced to go to B and C.
When B drains out, redfish will become thick as thieves at C.
And this is what the "stairs" concept looks like on a map during normal water levels.
Then what it looks like once water levels drop:
Now you understand why I like lower water levels!
You can see how fish are literally stacked on top of each other because they simply cannot go anywhere else.
It's easy to eliminate bodies of water that aren't productive because there is no water for fish to swim in.
This is one reason why the Redfish Jubilee happens after a strong cold front: the bayou in Yscloskey is the only place they can go.
But there is another reason why!
Stable Water Temperature
Trends in water temp influence fish more than specific degrees of temperature.
Redfish do fine in 44 degrees and we easily catch limits in that temperature.
However, they will get lockjaw as their bodies take time out to adjust after a rapid temperature change.
Stable water temp is important to fish, and the sole reason they seek shelter in deep water: it's less affected by bad weather.
Smart anglers fish the conditions, not spots.
If you're fishing a spot just because you did great there, it's a matter of time before fish leave and you'll be left wondering why.
They could leave for a lot of reasons, and cold & crappy weather could be one of them.
But now you've consumed this knowledge and will know what to do when the water level drops.
Questions? Comments? Chime in below!