Fishing & Boating News

Wacky-Worming Reds

by: Ed Snyder, Ed Snyder Outdoors

This redfish hit my wacky worm with a WHAM!!
Photo by Ed Snyder
Perfect fishing area- seagrass & outgoing tide = redfish.
Photo by Ed Snyder
(Jun. 23, 2010 - East Galveston Bay, Bolivar Peninsula, TX.) Flipping a wacky rigged worm towards a grassy edge, letting it sink, then using my rod-tip to make it wriggle, WHAM!! The water exploded and the fight was on. This action wasn't on a freshwater reservoir, nor in a patch of hydrilla, nor was my wacky hook impaled in the jaw of a black bass, but set in a crunching maw of a saltwater redfish.

When living on freshwater impoundments my favorite technique for catching bass were worms rigged wacky style. Now that I live on saltwater my favorite technique for catching bass must crossover to a more saline attitude for my fishing activity. So, with a little ingenuity and anticipation I set out to wacky some redfish.

Galveston East Bay became my target with an outgoing tide providing the right situation as reds and specks concentrated on the receding tide to ambush shrimp and baitfish being flushed from the grass. I targeted this area on previous years with outgoing tides being the key factor for some exceptional redfish action.

Choosing my tools was a no-brainer with 7ft casting rods w/light action tips and a bait-casting reels spooled with 12-lb test fluorocarbon. My rigging was a chartreuse weight wrapped 5/0 hook with either a chartreuse or pumpkinseed worm impaled in the center. Key to this rig were plastic sound beads inserted in the ends of the worms. In freshwater this sounded like crawfish "clicking"their tails attracting the bass bite. But in saltwater these "clicks"sounded like shrimp flicking their tails to the redfish.

Early morning launch found me full throttled towards the sea grass flats before sun-up and while the sun was announcing a new day I was searching the grass edges for tailing reds. They were here and they were hungry. A tailing red is an exciting scene to watch as reds feed along the bottom their tails show above the surface fanning in the morning light. They make excellent targets for anglers to cast to. And I'm one to take advantage of that.

My first cast resulted in that explosion of my first paragraph and my first wacky wormed redfish greeted the rising sun, glinting bronze and silver with the rolls and surges of the fight. What a site to see in the early mornings light. My redfish action for this day would result in eight reds and one sea-trout boated and released, with several more nice reds, along with two heavy trout throwing the hook. My day started at 6:30am and finished by 10am. Not bad for a mornings worth of wacky fishing.

The reason I use bait casting gear is for control. This rod and reel combo will handle any size redfish from the rat to the bull. Another rig that can be used is an open faced spinning rig. This rig can handle most reds under and around the 20 to 28 inch keeper size but will be severely stressed on larger reds. You'll have to be an advanced angler to handle 30inch plus reds on spinning tackle.

The wacky worms are simple with most tackle shops dealing in freshwater bass fishing will have them. The six inch chartreuse/pepper or pumpkin/pepper are my favorite colors. But when using the pumpkin pepper it's best to dip the worm ends in chartreuse "dip-n-die". as long as you have "some"chartreuse in your color scheme it should work.

The hooks should be VERY SHARP 4/0 to 5/0, with weighted hooks for tide movements and bare hooks for skinny water hookups. The key is "stealth" as redfish in skinny (shallow) water are very skittish and will spook easily. On this day I spotted a "monster"red that was tailing in less than 1ft of water. It had the tail of a 20lber. But when maneuvering to make my cast it bolted, leaving a cloud of mud behind it. My heart missed a beat when I saw the size of its huge wake. DRATS!!!

The technique is to make your cast behind the tailing fish, NOT in front of it. Casting directly in front of the fish will most likely spook the red, and any other red s with it. The redfish usually swim and feed in small pods of 3 to 4 fish. But then, reds are competitive when feeding and will often scoop up tidbits away from each other, so it's a judgment call on your part where to make your cast.

I use 12-lb test fluorocarbon line which is strong and has no stretch for getting a good hook set in the red. Reds have hard boney mouths and often a good hard hook set is needed to impale the hook into its jaw.

This is just like bass fishing on freshwater, I use my troll-motor to cruise the edges of the sea grass looking and casting as I go. Sometimes you'll see the reds cruising the banks and sometimes not. But when you do they are usually fairly easy to catch. Those that you can't see will hit on the fly, which adds to the excitement of fishing for reds. And every now and then, if your lucky, a gator-trout (25inches up) will pounce on your wacky-worm giving you a nice bonus catch for the day. Redfish limits in Texas are 3 fish per day at 20 to 28 inches w/one over when properly tagged. Speckled sea-trout are 10 fish per day at 15inches w/one over 25inches when added to your limit of ten. Texas also requires a saltwater stamp when fishing for saltwater angling.

I promise you this, if you've never hooked and fought a skinny water red before you're in for a real treat as well as a fight that will keep bringing you back for more. These fish are hard fighters and will stretch your nerves as well as your tackle to its extremes. And wacky worming reds is just one method for catching those memories, BUT it's a method that WORKS!!
These wacky rigged worms boated several reds, one in the 37inch class)
Photo by Ed Snyder
A 37inch redfish took a wacky giving me one HECK of a battle.
Photo by Ed Snyder