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Everglades

Pine Island Sound

Snook

Redfish

Tarpon

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from Gulf to pass to flat and back again, following the tide, always on the lookout for edibles. Staples of their diet include crabs and shrimp and other small crustaceans. They’ll also eat baitfish such as mullet and pilchards — in fact, it's hard to find anything that redfish won’t eat.

Generally, redfish are more cooperative than snook when it comes to taking flies and lures, but there are times when it seems like they just won’t be bothered. No matter what you throw at them, they turn up their noses and either spook or just swim away.

One of the most exciting things to see on a flat is a redfish tail, with its distinctive black spot, waving in the breeze as its owner roots for goodies on the bottom. It’s at that time the fish is most vulnerable to a well-placed fly or lure.

Once hooked, redfish are dogged fighters, not as showy as snook, but stronger, pound-for-pound. It’s not uncommon for a good-sized redfish to take a fly angler into his backing, and even a small red will give a good account of itself in a fight.

Fly anglers pursue reds with 7-, 8-, or 9-weight fast-action rods.Light tackle anglers need rods and reels rated for 10- to 20-pound braided line.

Redfish

Above, Ned Small fooled this golden-hued red with a topwater plug on a baitcasting outfit.

At right, Joe LeClair shows off a full-bodied Everglades redfish.

Darin Shaffer (right) spots as Nick Mackanarian casts to redfish in a creek off Pine Island Sound.

Redfish are cruisers, ever on the move,