Gung-Ho Gold

What might arguably be the most effective shallow water lure might also be the least understood. What I am referring to is the tried and true, proven spoon. Gold or silver, black or white, spoons have been in use for decades and continue to produce quality catches from coast to coast. Add in the fact that nearly every shallow water species that consumes injured baitfish will also pounce on a spoon without a moment’s hesitation, and you have the makings of a serious ‘must have’ lure.


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Tipping and tailing redfish present the perfect opportunity to toss a spoon. Photo: Tosh Brown, Steve Dougherty

As a matter of fact, spoons of various sizes and configurations continue to account for catches of virtually every type of game fish. On Florida’s inshore, shallow water estuaries, spoons are primarily utilized when targeting coveted redfish, and for very good reason. Under the right circumstances, a properly fished spoon will likely out-fish nearly all other artificial lures.

…if you spot a redfish following the spoon but the reluctant fish refuses to commit, stop reeling for a moment and allow the lure a chance to settle into the grass. Five times out of ten the curious red will go down and inhale it.

I was turned on to spoon fishing years ago by a local pro, and have been throwing metals ever since. It didn’t take me long to learn that just like the fastest car will never win a race if it isn’t driven properly; spoons rarely keep you connected if the lure is not fished correctly. Hence the reason for this editorial, as I have witnessed too many anglers throwing spoons where and when they shouldn’t, and not enough taking advantage of this artificial bait’s proven fish-catching abilities where and when they should.

Spoons shine the brightest when properly fishing over and around lush grass beds and jagged oyster bars. I am not claiming these attractive fakes will not entice vicious strikes in other arenas because they certainly will, but it’s in the vicinity of these prolific forms of structure where they prove to be the most enticing.

Now if you are one of those anglers who motors right up to a vast grass flat and just starts chucking a spoon, it’s no wonder you still have doubt in this bait’s supernatural abilities. Instead, slowly approach the grass flat you intend on investigating and kill the engine no less than a hundred yards away. Now is the time to make good use of your trolling motor. Once within close proximity, grab your push-pole and climb up on the poling platform. Contrary to what you may believe, redfish are spooky specimens and will blow out at the slightest hint of trouble. Sure, they may not be as wary as temperamental permit and bonefish, but they do have their days.

Once you’ve maneuvered into position, fight the desire to begin blind casting and spend a few minutes studying your playing field. Which direction is the tide running? Can you spot fish tailing, bait moving, or any other obvious signs of life? How about the presence of sandy potholes or distinct edges where tall grass meets short grass? Effective spoon fishing is primarily a game of sight fishing, so it’s important that you pay close attention to what sort of activity is taking place around you. If I need to remind you that quality polarized sunglasses are essential for this task, you may not be ready for Gung-Ho Gold.

Once a redfish is spotted, keep your distance. Cast beyond the tailing or moving fish in order to avoid spooking the guest of honor. Fortunately with spoons, you can make slight adjustments to the direction of your retrieve in order to perfectly intercept the intended target. I prefer to retrieve the spoon somewhat parallel to the fish rather than directly across its nose. Let’s not forget that it is a fish eat fish world out there, and prey never intentionally swims directly toward the killing end of a predator. It’s simply unnatural.

As far as the retrieve is concerned, two key methods continue to prove their worthiness. The first is a straightforward retrieve with a slow but steady pace. Keep the spoon wobbling just over and through the tips of the grass. A steady retrieve is ideal for covering a lot of ground in 24 to 48-inches of water. Do not drag the lure across the bottom. Even rigged weedless; a spoon may snag vegetation and spook your quarry.

The second approach involves more of a jigging or fluttering action. Cast your spoon, and then slowly lift your rod tip before retrieving the slack as you lower your rod tip back to the 3 o’clock position, allowing the spoon to wobble for six to eight inches before repeating. Fluttering a spoon results in more strikes than you can imagine, and is a simple technique to master. The irresistible approach works great over grass beds as it allows the angler to not only work the top portion of the shallow depths, but also allows the lure a chance to sink into the grass where it mimics a wounded baitfish. The same technique should be used around the perimeter of oyster bars. Remember; the meal that hungry redfish are after may or may not be crawling along the bottom. If pinfish are prevalent, the local redfish population may be on the hunt for a shimmering snack just below the surface. Whereas if crabs are on the menu; they may very well have their head buried in the substrate.

In either scenario, as soon as the spoon hits the water start your retrieve. This prevents the lure from sinking directly to the bottom.

When sight casting for reds, observe the fish’s behavior. Is it hovering in one place? If so, it’s likely waiting to ambush whatever unfortunate victim swims within its field of view. Cast your spoon beyond the fish and retrieve the spoon directly ahead of the fish. With practice you will learn how precise placement plays a big role in the fish’s reaction. If the fish is on the move, calculate its speed and direction of travel and attempt to intercept it with your offering.

There is no question that a spoon can be quite simple to fish. These baits are extremely versatile as can be worked fast, slow and vertically, fluttered, and yes, simply retrieved back to the boat. In any case, if you spot a redfish following the spoon but the reluctant fish refuses to commit, stop reeling for a moment and allow the lure a chance to settle into the grass. Five times out of ten the curious red will go down and inhale it.

Spoon-feeding a red while sight casting can be one of the most exciting experiences an inshore angler can witness. You will be amazed studying these incredible fish how at times they strike with vengeance, while at other times they inhale the spoon with such finesse that in all rights the subtle bite should not even be called a “strike.” That is, of course, until you heave back and set the hook.

Tackle Tips
Thanks to extremely sensitive graphite rods and ultra-thin braid, today’s innovative tackle allows anglers to stay in close contact with their lures and thus facilitate the most lifelike presentations. To effectively fish spoons, a 7 ½-foot casting outfit will do just fine, as will an equivalent spinning setup. Fish whichever you are more comfortable with and have the most confidence in.

I prefer 10lb. PowerPro. The line is ultra-thin and ultra-sensitive. I can cast it a country mile, and the line’s characteristic moss green pattern blends in well with the surroundings. To avoid line twist, I tie my braid to a micro barrel swivel with a Palomar knot and then to three feet of 20lb. fluorocarbon, which provides an added level of abrasion resistance when fishing jagged oyster bars. A small loop knot to the spoon provides the greatest action.

Spoon Selection

Spoons designed to entice redfish are available in many different variations and colors, but the most effective are gold, silver and black. Gold spoons are popular, as they have proven to be the most versatile. Stained conditions…clear water…it doesn’t seem to matter as gold spoons simply work!

Black or dark color spoons kick butt when the water is exceptionally clear. Silver and white work well in murky conditions, but don’t be afraid to experiment. After all, fishing is fishing.

Leading manufactures have taken spoons to a new level by adding sonic sound chambers, vibrant skirts, additional blades and even buzzers – all of which create more vibration and more fish attracting appeal. Nemire Lures even plates their spoons with genuine 24k gold to achieve maximum shine. Spoons in 1/2, 3/4, and 1-oz. weights will typically cover all of the bases, which is why consistently successful anglers head out well prepared with a variety of sizes and colors.