How to Catch a Redfish
So how do we catch a redfish? The real question is, how do we catch a redfish that tips the scales? It's a popular sport fish along the Atlantic coast and in the Gulf of Mexico, probably for the temperament and size that puts the thrill into the sport. It's one of our primary targets on our fishing charters. Hooking a scale-tipping red takes some skill and know-how, but keep reading, because I'm going to reveal some angler secrets to help you catch a monstrous red and have the ultimate fishing experience.
Regardless of the fish you are pursuing, you must study and know the species and their habits. Knowing the preferred habitat, spawning patterns, and feeding habits is vital to the outcome of your fishing experience. You need to know when and where to cast, and the right type and size of bait to use. The best place to learn the right technique is aboard one of our fishing charters, but I did promise some secrets and I must deliver.
Know the Species
Redfish are shallow water fish for the most part. You'll find them in estuaries along the eastern seaboard and the gulf coast. They can be found in backwater flats, salt marsh creeks and rivers, and oyster bars. We prefer Mosquito Lagoon on our fishing charters. The smaller reds are found more frequently in schools, in contrast to the larger bull redfish. This is why when you catch a redfish, you are almost guaranteed to catch more in the same area. Catching a bull redfish is a little more challenging. If you made it this far, you are in it for the challenge, and that's why I'm going share my secrets with you.
Baiting for a Redfish
Redfish have a natural diet of live shrimp, minnows, mullet and menhaden. You can use live shrimp on a jig head or under a float. In shallow water, you can free-line live shrimp. You can do the same with mud minnows. Keep in mind that redfish are primarily bottom feeders. You can get desired results baiting with live finger mullet and crabs on a standard bottom fishing rig. Using cut bait can add scenting to the scenario and amplify your results. We prefer live bait on our fishing charters, but artificial bait works well too.
You can use artificial bait, lures and plugs. You'll find that redfish lures resemble freshwater black bass lures. The artificial bait ranges from topwater to deep diving. Bait with grubs on jig heads or plastic swim tails are popular and effective. You want to fish with the lightest weight you can and still get the action you want. A favorite is a 3/8 ounce jig and a bass assassin electric chicken color swim tail.
Think about how the redfish perceive your bait. You always want to cast a lure that imitates the prey that the fish are targeting. Think about the size of the fish you want to target, and the size of your lure. Big fish eat big bait. Also think about the behavior of your bait. If your lure imitates a shrimp, don't work it like a mullet. Observe the signs of the wildlife surrounding you, specifically those diving birds that almost always give away the location of the swimming baitfish. What's behind the baitfish? Your trophy catch!
Timing: Tide and the Watch
If you have ever heard the saying, "it's all about the timing," it definitely applies here. Estuaries along the coast, like Mosquito Lagoon, are the best places to find redfish. The key to locating redfish is locating signs of baitfish. You want to see birds feeding along the edge of the water and schools of minnows. Locate oyster bars and water currents flowing in and out of marsh flats. Depending on where you are fishing, tide can have an impact on the fishing experience. When you locate an outgoing tide, feeding fish flow off the marsh flats and flow back into creeks and rivers. During those times, bait can be introduced and worked slowly. Keep an eye on your watch, because I did say timing matters. If you don't get a nibble in fifteen minutes, move along. If you get a catch, hang tight.
If you are looking for a larger bull redfish, watch your calendar. Spawning season is when those mature bull redfish become an easy catch. Depending on the location, redfish migrate offshore each winter to deeper water and into the reefs. During warmer climate, they are found primarily inshore. During Fall, the heavyweight redfish push into inlets and passes. The fall migration brings them in deep channels that lead out into the ocean, living up to the term “channel bass.” During this fall migration, you'll find some of the biggest reds, and the only struggle to catch one is found in the fight at the other end of the line.
Mosquito Lagoon is unique in that it is one of the few places where redfish live their entire lives. It's home to some of the world's largest bull redfish. Mosquito Lagoon is one of our favorite places to explore on our fishing charters.
If you want to learn the real secrets to catching a trophy redfish, climb aboard Code Red Fishing Charters for a fishing adventure unlike any other.