Sight casting big red fish at night under bridges is one of the most exciting ways to fish in Northwest Florida. Roadside lights illuminate most of our bridges. Some of the light spills onto the water, attracting baitfish. When the conditions are right, big redfish roam along the surface from light to light looking for an easy meal.
They aren’t alone. Depending on the time of year hungry tarpon, jack crevalle, tripletail and sharks also hunt the bridges. I hide in the darkness under the cover of the bridge, watching intently for a cruising predator. Spotting one gets my adrenaline pumping.
Wait for ideal weather conditions and tides to increase the odds of finding cruising fish. The fish are more likely to swim near the surface looking for the bait when the water is rough, churning, and hitting the bridge pilings. Good tidal movement plays a big role.
Hide in the darkness under the bridge downwind or down current and hold your position with your MirageDrive®. The pedal drive is a huge advantage when fishing in current. It also comes into play when fighting a fish around bridge pilings. You can effectively maneuver away from danger, vastly increasing the number you’ll land.
Moving from light to light and staying hidden in the darkness increases your chances of seeing fish. You can’t miss huge a golden pumpkin floating in the light or a massive 100-plus pound tarpon swimming by.
I use a variety of lures depending on the conditions. When the water is calm and fish are cruising on the surface, topwater lures, poppers, flies or even large swimbaits rigged weightless on a circle hook are awesome. When conditions are rough and the fish are cruising just under the surface, large weighted Hogy soft baits or even a large LiveTarget Pinfish Lipless Rattlebait entice fish to bite.
When targeting big bull redfish, use a 30- to 50-pound setup so you can horse them away from the bridge and pull them in quickly so they can be released unharmed and healthy. When targeting the monster tarpon, step up your gear to something heavier, a 50 to 80-pound setup. A long 80-pound leader is a must when targeting these monster fish. They will test your gear to the max and find any weakness you have and break your heart.
Once you have it dialed it you might be tempted to try it with a fly rod. Expect a lot of follows before connecting. Eventually you’ll redeem yourself. On the long rod a 36-inch red is one epic battle.
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