Anglers in America’s southeastern coastal waters know the thrill of catching redfish, which are also known as red drum or simply “reds.”
These aggressive yet skittish fish are found in waters from Massachusetts to Mexico, but they are especially popular on Florida’s gulf coast, the Keys, and Louisiana. As excellent table fare and an entertaining sport fish, reds are one of the most sought-after fish in the country, and are even the official saltwater fish of South Carolina.
With a little knowledge and the right approach, you can become one of the many successful redfish anglers in America.
ABOUT THE REDFISH
Before you start hauling redfish into the boat, take the time to learn about their movements, feeding habits, and characteristics. By understanding the redfish, you’ll have a better chance of hooking these top-quality trophies.
Redfish generally congregate in shallow waters, often feeding in estuaries, river mouths, bays, and shallow flats. They can be found in a wide variety of areas, including waters with sandy, muddy, or weed-filled bottoms. Although they can travel into freshwater, they generally stay in saltwater.
Redfish require about four years to reach full maturity, making regulation all the more important. Around three or four years of age, they will move from the safety of bays and estuaries into open coastal waters to find more food; however, they will return to their shallow homes to reproduce. They feed on many aquatic species; including crab, shrimp, mullet, menhaden, and other bait fish. If allowed to grow to full maturity, they can reach over 30 pounds and survive for more than 20 years.
HOW TO LOCATE AND CATCH REDFISH
Redfish can range from highly active to wary and patient, so you need to know the best techniques if you want to have some success. First of all, you need to understand the tide cycles and how it affects redfish feeding. When the tide is up, reds will move into beaches and flats that were previously dry, feeding on crustaceans and other animals in the sand and mud. This presents a great opportunity to catch hungry reds.
When fishing shallow waters, make sure you are very stealthy; lots of noise will make redfish disappear quickly. The best technique is to use paddles, but a cane pole or trolling motor can be effective as well.
Always use your eyes when pursuing redfish. In clear water, you can often spot them swimming around, especially if you are using a spotter from a raised platform. Thanks to the way they feed, you can usually spot redfish in murkier water as well. A redfish will feed with its mouth to the floor and its tail in the air. Keep an eye out for their spotted tail fins and you could be on to a great catch.