Fishing for Redfish in Florida
Few species have grown in sportfishing as massively as redfish. An aggressive, tough fight paired with size and numbers have made redfish one of the most sought after fish in the backcountry waters of the Florida Everglades.
Understanding Redfish Biology
In order to successfully target redfish as an angler, it is important to know some background and biology of what makes redfish.
Redfish are the biggest and most formidable of the drum species. While the majority of the drum species are not typically seen as gamefish, the Red Drum, aka the redfish, has become infamous for anglers for its bulldog type fight and unique tail spot.
The key to being successful for redfish is knowing the best times to fish for them. One of these best times to target redfish is during their spawn till when they migrate off-shore. A redfish’s spawn in Florida can happen as early as mid-August to around early fall. The area to target redfish during the spawn is primarily inshore around inlets.
After a redfish spawn, they will slowly migrate back offshore. This, along with the spawning run, is likely the time to catch a true trophy bull red as they make their way out to deeper water. They can be caught in the channels leading out to sea and can also be caught as they congregate around underwater rock piles just offshore. While the adults migrate, the juvenile redfish will hatch and stay in backwater estuaries till they grow quickly in size and mature.
Fishing for Redfish
Redfish, because they are part of the drum family, typically are considered bottom feeders. They relate to sandbars, oyster bars, and grassy flats. However, redfish are not picky and do not feed entirely off of the bottom.
One of the most exciting ways to target redfish is to aggressively twitch large poppers and then have a large redfish engulf it in a massive strike. One of the best times to do this is when observing the water and seeing mullets or other baitfish disturb the surface. Chances are they are being chased and imitating an injured baitfish with a popper is the way to go.
Another great way to fish for redfish is by imitating mullets subsurface. Casting out a soft plastic jerk bait and twitching it near the bottom or tying it on a drop shot rig can prove to be effective.
While lures work well for redfish, so too does just simply throwing out live bait. Shrimp pushed onto a hook, pieces of crab or even just a worm on the bottom are great baits for redfish. This is due to the amount of bottom-feeding redfish do around sandbars and oyster bars. Redfish will cruise the bottom looking for juvenile crabs and oysters, among other things. Targeting the grounds they feed on with cut bait is a natural presentation that entices more than just a few bites.
As with most fish, live bait is also a great option to catch redfish. Hook a small baitfish, cast it out, and allow it to remain close to the bottom. Redfish cruising the bottom for food won’t hesitate to bite.
Knowing the feeding habits, biology, and locations redfish are found, is necessary to be successful for this aggressive game fish. It is no surprise, that after gaining the knowledge of how to catch a redfish and then finally catching one of these hard fighting fish, that an angler would be hooked for life.