An Angler's Guide to Redfish

By: Peter Miller, Bass 2 Billfish

A Florida fishing expert shares his secrets for catching redfish.

Few fish inspire as much enthusiasm in dedicated Florida fishermen as redfish. Elusive and skittish, these beautiful fish with the tell-tale dark spots near the base of their tails are the stuff of legend.

There's nothing quite like sneaking up on a school of redfish as early morning fog floats over the water. Experienced anglers watch for tailing reds — a gentle swirling of the water made by their tail fins as the fish feeds face down, tail up, on crabs and other favorites in seagrass and oyster beds. Adults are usually under 40 pounds, but have been known to weigh upward of 80 pounds when mature.

Also known as red drum and channel bass, the sweet, white meat these fish yield is almost unparalleled. Locals know that eating fresh redfish is a delectable treat.

Redfish are found in temperate and tropical waters around the world, and are abundant on Florida's east and west coasts. Wary and quick to flee, a trolling motor or push pole is recommended for a quiet approach to the grassy flats and shallow waters where these fish hunt mollusks and other foods. Excellent baits include live shrimp, crab, pinfish and mullet as well as artificial lures like jigs or a gold spoon. Precision is important when presenting to these challenging fish, and casts should be confident and fluid. In some areas, incoming tides bring redfish ready to feed, while in other areas, the bite is sparked by hard, outgoing tides.

Sometimes, much larger fish can be found in deeper channels. These solid fish consistently put up a strong, powerful fight and hit bait with certainty, contributing to their popularity. Redfish are a favorite for fly fishermen as well as those using light tackle. Try stalking and bringing in one of these favorite shallow water fish, and you're sure to be hooked!

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