The wife and I have known Jason and Cathy for a number of years now and they were one of the first couples we became friends with when we moved to Central Florida from Jacksonville. Jason and I fish together a bunch, we have traveled together, fish locally, fish tournaments, you name it, we have chased it. The wives are great together too and enjoy a day on the boat as much as a day by the pool. For all the trips and days on the water, it was brought to my attention, Cathy had yet to catch a solid Redfish up on the flats. Needless to say I was surprised, she bass fishes with Jason and also has caught Bonefish in Mexico along with a host of other saltwater species… how could the redfish have eluded her? Well, let’s do this.
Full disclosure…(Flashback) I found this out one afternoon when Jason and I were planning on chasing some tailers on a summer evening and Cathy wanted to join and just relax on the skiff. We had a few hours one evening, the storms dissipated and we made a break for the Lagoon. Foss (jason) had a hot hand on the bow and grabbed a few tailing fish before he let me take a few shots.
I connected with one before taking my place back up high and as we approached a small group of tailers, Cathy says, “You know I have never caught a redfish like this”. I about fell off the platform. So obviously she was up, right now. The first group didn’t go as planned and light was fading but a upper-slot fish appears out of the grass not 10 feet from the bow. She gives a shot backhand with the jig and since shots like that rarely work…. shit, HE ATE IT! Cathy leans on him as he proceeds to cut a swatch across this grass flat, the Stradic is screaming, Jason has his fist in the air and I am cheering… The Line Goes Slack… My heart sinks and expletives fly from the pretty blonde on the bow. Although the few hours were great by most standards, we all felt the wind out of our sails when that hook pulled. The hook was sharp, the knots held… sometimes weird shit happens.
Fast forward to now, a few months later, Cathy is still talking about the one that got away, and we all remember it a little to vividly. Got the new skiff, and it is a calm January day, perfect for us to get Cathy on one she deserves. We launched in the north end of the Lagoon as the water was clear and I had been following some solid fish in the grass over the past weeks and it was setting up to be ideal. Although a little convincing was needed she was first up. We pushed a low water, slick shoreline that had clean patches of grass where the flat was beginning to wake up. Cloud cover was present but it played into our favor as we were in skinny enough water that full sun might have given our location away to the sharp eye of over-slot redfish. If they were in here, we would see their backs out of the water and could approach with caution.
Ahead, there were signs of a redfish slow cruising, a long, lazy wake with just the very tips of his tail peaking above the surface. Cathy, on the casting platform was armed with a DOA and ready to take her first shot. The fish paused and put his head down to eat and now was her shot. Direction was good but she over shot him a little and as he got back to cruising, the line grazed his back and he was gone. No worries, plenty of fish here, and not 40 feet up the shoreline was one going away from us super tight to the mangroves. He ducked behind a small island about the size of the skiff so I made the decision to cut him off on the other side. Two quick pushes and he came around the island just as we approached him. “It’s a nice left to right, go head and give him a little room and he will swim right to it”, I told her. “What if I throw it in the mangroves?”….. I said ”you won’t, let it go”…
It was a textbook cast at a shoreline crawler. Her lure landed softy about 10 feet in front ,and as he approached, I told her “hit it once and he will jump it”… she did, and man did he crush it. He went from 30 foot off the bow out to 100, in a split second. It was another impressive run by a Redfish but the hook held this time and Cathy countered his runs by gaining on him little by little. Pretty soon he was taking one step forward and two steps back until she eased that over-slot red into the net. Not sure who was more excited and relieved, Cathy, Jason or me! A few quick photos, healthy release and toast of a cocktail, Cathy had her skinny water Redfish and it was a gem. Even Jason snuck in on the photo, they joked and said this is how married couples with no kids do a Christmas card!
I had to cut all the excitement short as there was a tailing fish about 80 feet and closing quick. Cathy graciously deferred the bow to Jason and what seemed to be all in one motion, he stepped up, made a cast and was hooked up as soon as it hit the water. All I did was a quarter spin to give him a better angle and I was back down to net his fish. Of course his was smaller, which we joking was fitting but as we released him, Cathy and Jason both said, “Your turn”. Now I don’t get on the bow much, mainly because I enjoy putting people on fish but it seemed right to try and all get at least one each. Well Jason wasn’t on the back long as another crawler was tight to the shoreline. I took my shot and lead him about a rod length and all it took was one hop and he had it and was headed to the horizon. Cathy played net lady, I eased him in and after a quick photo he was on his way again.
Sometimes things just comes together and we made one stop and didn’t have to push more than 50 yards of a shoreline for all three of us to get on the board. Jason grabbed another tailer before we had to head in but it was an eventful few hours on the Lagoon.