Salt Water Bassin'

by Phillip Gentry

Upstate Outdoors
September 20, 2019 - 11:12 am
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Out of all the months in the calendar, September might be the best month for chasing redfish. 

This fact is due partly to cooling water temperatures, more stable weather patterns (so long as the tropics behave) and the fishing on inland lakes is not that good. A bass angler, meaning someone who regularly fishes for freshwater black bass species, might take some solace in the fact that an early fall trip to the coast might just be the scratch for your fishing itch.

Some years ago, this was exactly the situation that started Glenn Finley, a dyed-in-the-wool bass angler from Belton, SC on his way to becoming an IFA Redfish champion. 

With water temperatures soaring on Lake Hartwell, Finley decided he’d take a vacation to the coast and pulled his bass rig with him to see what he could find. 

“I pulled my boat with me to the beach, put in at one of the inshore boats ramps and just went down the bank casting like I was back home bass fishing,” said Finley. “I had about a 5-pound redfish smack the spinnerbait I was throwing and he fought me all the way to the boat, they just don’t give up. That’s when I realized I could get used to this.”

The experience started something in Finley that eventually led he and his fishing partner, Dodd Wood, also from Belton to eventually winning the 2008 IFA Redfish Tour Championship in Panama City Beach, Fla. Since that time, Finley and Wood have won several other IFA tournaments including several events in South Carolina.

Behind each win, Finley credits his experiences as a long-time bass tournament angler that has given him a different mentality and a different approach to chasing redfish. 

“It’s very close to bass fishing,” he said. “The tactics are nearly the same.  Equipment is basically the same.  I catch redfish on crank baits, spinner baits, a little bit of top water, deep diving crank baits.  Where I believe my bass fishing background really pays off fishing for redfish is because I rely on my electronics and watch for drops and break lines.” 

Finley also credits much of his success to his choice of boat. True to his roots, he fishes from a bass boat modified to withstand saltwater. He said the boat will draft in as little as 10 inches of water, not that he puts much time in on the flats.

 “We prefer to concentrate on areas where the fish are back out in a foot and a half of water instead of 6 - 8 inches of water,” he said. “We can get in real fast on the channel and then burn that flat up casting to every good point or cut in the grass and then move on.”

His style of running and gunning, using the Intercoastal Waterway as a travel route between primary bays and creeks, lets him see a lot of fish.

“Most of the other guys fishing these tournaments are stalking one school of fish,” said Finley. “Either they anchor up on them and try to pick a couple out or they get up on the flats and pole for them. We’d just rather take our chances at cherry picking a lot of fish. Even if the bite is tough, we’re going to present a bait to more fish and that lets us find the ones we need for the tournament.

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Phillip Gentry is the host of “Upstate Outdoors,” broadcast from noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays on 106.3 WORD FM or online at 1063word.radio.com. 

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