The Tail of the Christmas Eve Redfish

Redfish Christmas: Mark Naumovitz with his catch.

Redfish Christmas: Mark Naumovitz with his catch.

Words and photos by Ken Taylor

Almost two ago this Christmas Eve, my buddy Mark Naumovitz contacted me about fishing in Charlotte Harbor near my home on the southwest coast of Florida.

Mark was coming over to visit relatives for the holidays so we decided to hook up. Unfortunately a mild cold front had blown through our area the day before and that usually makes for some tough fishing. We decided to fish anyway. Mark wanted a shot at catching a tailing redfish. As Ken ‘the guide,’ I wanted to make sure my friend had a good time. The pressure was on!

We launched our kayaks out of Placida and the conditions were calm but a little cool. After a little searching, we found a few schools of tailing redfish. After we approached within casting distance, we soon realized that the redfish were not in a feeding mood and turned down everything we threw at them. I told Mark that maybe we should let the water warm up a bit and go look for spotted seatrout and snook up in one of the nearby creeks. Then maybe, the reds would cooperate and feed later in the day.

We caught spotted seatrout, sheepshead and Mark landed a few decent snook on artificial lures. The D.O.A. 1/4-ounce shrimp in particular proved extremely effective as we added Pro-Cure gel scent to its farm raised shrimp scent to make it more appealing. I even caught a couple sheepshead that were tailing on a flat with the sweetened D.O.A. shrimp. (continued below)

The release shot.

The release shot.

If we could get a tailing redfish to eat Mark could complete his slam. We thought that we might be able to coax one to chew if we could get close and cast the D.O.A. scented shrimp right on a redfish's head and just barely shake the rod tip.

We pedaled and paddled our kayaks back to the flat that we originally found the redfish schools on and found them still tailing. We worked a school as best and as silently as we could trying to pick out an individual fish. Finally, a redfish inhaled Mark’s lure! After a brief battle, shouts of joy and a tug of war, Mark expertly landed the over slot 29-inch redfish. I snapped a few quick pictures, including a nice release photo to commemorate our successful trip.

Even though I didn't catch a redfish that day, I was happy that my friend did. When you are a guide, you want to make sure your client has fish catching opportunities and a great time. That redfish photo is my favorite and symbolizes our success on that Christmas Eve day. May all your fishing trips be so blessed with friendship, big battling fish, and memories that will last a life time.

Ken Taylor is a Native Watercraft pro staffer.