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Redfish Release
Captain Dan Shannon
21 June 2016
It's warming up alright. We've had a few days when it reached a hundred degrees in this region of NW central Florida. It's always hotter in the cities. It's a few degrees cooler out floating and fishing on water 82 to 84 degrees F. The temperature of the water around the Cedar Key area lately has been between 82 and 85 degrees. That's not too bad especially with the Bimini top up and a little breeze blowing. The shade with the wind makes a lot of difference.
That's how it was June 21st as myself and 4 fishing folks motored around the flats and fished over the grassy bottom. We fished for speckled trout for the first part of our 4-hour trip. Ended up with 8 'keepers'. A keeper speckled trout is a trout between 15" and 20" long. Each of you can keep 5 trout. 1 of those 5 can be over 20". The FWC, (Fish and Wildlife Commission) doesn't want you to keep the juvenile fish or the big breeders. Just the ones in between. Plenty of those. 
After the tide rose up enough we cruised over to the edge of Deadman's Key. One of the smallest keys in the Cedar Key National Wildlife Refuge. Its surrounded by oysters. An oyster bar is a world in itself. Fish and crabs and shellfish big and small live all over and around the bar. Redfish feed on all that.
We tossed out cut up pinfish and weighted down our baits so they would lay on the bottom just at the edge of the bars and waited just a few short minutes before a redfish picked up Claudia's bait and really gave her a jolt of 'red power'. Line was peeling off the reel quickly and lots of it. I had set the drag of the reel pretty snug so I knew it had to be a big red. Then he came to the surface over the edge of the partially submerged bar and thrashed around, tossin' water and showing off his big tailfin. Then down again and ripping off more line.
The rest of the crew had their lines in and yelling all different encouragements. It’s nice when folks pull their line up and out of the way when someone has a big, special fish on.  The red went up one side of the boat and then back down. Splashin' and thrashin'. Finally, we had it alongside and I dip netted it up and into the boat. There is a legal slot size for redfish too. Its 18" minimum to 27' maximum length. Don't you know that beautiful creature was 28" long. I measured it 3 times. Sure enough it was too big to keep.

21jun Shannon xe

This fish fought hard and long. It was tired and would likely have turned over on its side and died in the water, if I had tossed him overboard like a catfish and gone on about my business. You could tell it was weak so I held it under tail and head just under the surface of the water and moved it back and forth forcing water over its gills and gently flexing its gills open with the tips of my fingers. I had a light grip on its tail and could feel a slight flexing so I kept moving it back and forth and then I felt a strong muscle from the tail and then he blasted off and away from me and back down and out of sight. It took 3 full minutes but he was well recuperated.
We all clapped and yelled goodbye. We caught 2 more reds there. One was 17.5" and the other was 17". Can you believe it? No keeper reds. We anchored up and rode back to the dock where I filleted their trout and they said they would see me again in the fall season. 
 The one good picture I got was Claudia Leedy with her redfish. She was tired too so I held it up for the pic. (I didn't have to resuscitate her). Folks, the reds are finally showing up in all the easy spots here in Cedar Key Florida and I'd love to fish with you.
Call me at 352-221-5463 and we'll go get 'em. thanks, Capt. Dan
I have a big wide pontoon boat, real comfy, call me at 352-221-5463 and we'll go get 'em.  
 Thanks, Capt. Dan