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How the Redfish Spawn Works

Redfish Fishing During the Spawn

Redfish are natural fighters know to battle in excess of 20 minutes­. [Source: Miami Herald] That makes for exciting fishing, but demands vigilance for the fisherman. Why? By the time you finally reel in the redfish, it's exhausted. Lactic acid -- the same thing that makes your legs burn after a sprint -- has built up in its muscles. You might need to revive it before you let it go; otherwise it might not have the energy to swim away, turning your catch-and-release into a catch-and-accidentally-kill.

Another problem with catching and releasing redfish during the spawn is that these fish usually hang out in shallow waters. During the spawn, however, they're literally out of their depth. They may have dived deeper than they're used to. That wouldn't be an issue, except their air bladders are poorly adapted for depth. If you reel in a redfish from deeper currents, it may arrive at the surface with its air bladder prolapsed -- protruding from the mouth. You'll have to get the bladder back inside before you release the fish, meaning you must deflate it. Some fishermen carry a small ice pick or similar tool to give the air bladder a small puncture.

Always watch a released redfish closely. If it doesn't swim away energetically, get it back in the boat and work to revive it.

What about equipment? Fluorocarbon reels work well. Some anglers recommend 20-pound test line; others prefer 40-pound line. You can use light tackle, but remember how much these fish fight. Spinning or casting tackles are a good idea. So is a heavy-duty hook.

One last note -- if you're fishing with friends, you might want to take turns. Like people, redfish turn "dumb and silly" when they're mating. [Source: Miami Herald] If you have multiple lines hanging off the boat, you might catch multiple fish at once, and they've been known to fight so hard they get the lines tangled under the boat -- even in the propellers.

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