Spring Lure Selection - Inshore Fishing

by Brad Clark

With the turn of the Spring season here in Northeast Florida and water temperatures finally starting to rise you may wonder what lures you should be using during this transition. I primarily fish the marshes and creeks within the Jacksonville and St. Augustine region and I have found that as soon as you start to see water temperatures in the low seventies the fishing really turns on. But how do you increase your hook ups? Your lure selection during this time will play a big role in whether you are getting a bite or getting passed by. Let’s first talk about soft plastics. Soft plastic lures come in a plethora of varieties, colors, shapes, scents and all of them have their place but, to keep things simple I recommend always having two primary types of soft plastic baits in your tackle box and those are a paddle tail of some kind as well as a jerk shad style plastic. 

Bonafide kayak SS127 stand up fishing marsh

With the spring comes….spring rains, the rain waters will ultimately begin to make that clear winter water a little more murky, cloudy and dark. This is when the proper soft plastic comes into play and color selection can help tremendously. I like to choose a soft plastic that has some kind of flash in it, whether it be a red or silver glitter in the bait you just want something that will give a flash when the sun hits it in the water. Another thing I look for is scent and for that reason my main go to soft plastic lures for scent are the Gulp swimming Mullet in the 4” size in either the white color or the pumpkin seed, and although these baits do not have any glitter in them, the scent they sit in while in the packaging just flat out works! These baits prove themselves time and time again when nothing else is working. I like to use a 1/8 oz. Z-man Trout Eye jig head while working the grass edges, creek mouths and other ambush points with a steady jig/pop retrieve, meaning I raise my rod tip and pop the bait twice and let it sink and repeat. My other go to is a Mirrolure Marsh Minnow with a chartreuse paddle tail with silver or red glitter in the body of the bait, this lure also has great vibration because of the paddle tail and draws in the attention of nearby redfish, trout and flounder. I again rig these with a 1/8 oz. Z-man jig head and work the outflows of the creeks, all grass edges and ambush points with the same jig/pop method I use on the Gulp swimming mullet. Having these two soft plastics in your tackle box will give you a great starting point to have incredible success while inshore fishing in the spring and into the summer.

redfish in north east florida

Next, let’s talk about twitch baits. Again the options are almost endless and you really have to do some homework on these and figure out which works best for your area and what you are targeting, but again there are a few simple things to consider and some great reliable options that will cover many bodies of water and provide success when used correctly. The first bait that comes to my mind and probably many inshore anglers’ minds when twitch baits are discussed would be the Mirrolure MR-17 and the MR-27. Suspending twitch baits are a popular choice because of where they swim in the water column when worked properly, ease of use, casting distance and overall success rate. The color choices are abundant, so a match the hatch is often what I would recommend. If you are seeing a lot of mullet around, then tie on a silver MR-17 or MR-27 (the difference in the numbers is just the size of the lure itself). Although with the match the hatch theory there are times where you just want to offer something “different “ and that is when experimenting with other colors and patterns can be fun as you find out what other baits work and which ones do not. Lately I have been using a Yo-Zuri 3D inshore 3 ½ inch twitch bait in ghost shad and it has out fished the Mirrolure MR-17 in a similar color on multiple outings, yet when I head to a different creek I frequent the Mirrolure will out fish the Yo-Zuri at times. It’s all about experimenting, but try a couple different colors and styles of twitch baits and find what works best for you and your area.

redfish from a Bonafide SS127 kayak

Top water anyone? Were you wondering if I was going to bring it up? Well, we can’t talk about spring fishing without discussing how incredible this time of year is to be tossing top water in the morning and evening hours. There will always be your standard go to selections such as the Rapala Skitter walk, Mirrolure Top Dog and Top Dog jr. (two of my favorites) and of course there are the Heddon Super Spook and Spook jr. top water baits that have proven to be successful for decades. In all reality all of these work! And all of them will work in almost any body of water and catch any species of fish that is considered a predatory fish. What it come down to is, what are you comfortable and confident in throwing? I fish with a couple guys that swear up and down on a Skitter walk while I prefer to use a Mirrolure Top Dog just because I think it does the walk the dog motion easier the way it is weighted. And there is another lure that should be in your arsenal and the Bass guys will all know this one, the River2Sea Whopper Plopper. This lure has a little propeller like tail that creates a top water turbulence and drives the fish crazy! Do not sleep on this one inshore guys, it works and should be added to your box ASAP. I have caught several over slot redfish and some monster sea trout using this lure.

Good luck to you this spring and may you have great success on the water. Tight lines!

Double redfish hookup on a skiff