They were on the brink of disaster as a result of severe commercial over fishing. But the Redfish also known as the Red Drum has made a miraculous recovery after being placed on the restricted species list in 1989. Better management of the species through slot limits, re-stocking programs and more anglers practicing catch and release fishing combined with its re-designation to a non-commercial species have led to a very strong recovery of the redfish. In fact last year I caught one when fishing for bait in Biscayne Bay within sight of Downtown Miami!
The Redfish is an incredible gamefish and is one of the top quarries of recreational anglers in the state of Florida and most of the Gulf States. The rods and reels used to go after Redfish can range from ultra-lights with extremely light line to more stout combinations in the 12 to 20 lb classes. I’m not going to go into exactly which rod and reel combination you need to use other than just match the outfit to the conditions and size of fish you are targeting. Deeper water you may choose to go a bit heavier where the much light combinations should be used on the flats and those areas that have less possible obstruction such as mangroves. If you have your heart set on using a fly rod for Redfish consider an 8 or 9 weight rod and decide on the tippet once you know the conditions, size and shyness of the fish.Temperature and tide has a considerable effect on where and when Redfish can be found. We have all seen videos and fishing shows showing tailing Redfish on the flats, which is where they tend to congregate to feed when water temperatures rise above 70 degrees. Below 70 degrees they will move into slightly deeper water where temperatures are more stable. As water temperatures warm and approach 80 degrees the fish may seek comfort in channels and near drop-offs and although you may not see redfish tailing, if you have caught them there before you should give these deeper spots a shot.
Redfish are inclined to be more active the beginning of the outgoing tide when the water is deeper and the early part of the incoming tide when water is rising on the flats. The outgoing tide is very tricky as many an angler has gotten into an area during the ebbing tide but even with shallow draft boats has been stranded, as the water has gotten too low to maneuver. Because of shallow water the noise on and around a bout may tend to scare wary fish even when poling along the shallows, because of this many anglers will wade the flats and shallow areas in order to be even more stealthy.
Redfish (Red Drum) are voracious eaters and although they are primarily known for picking crabs, shrimp and other crustaceans from along the bottom they will most certainly be open to other tasty morsels such as small baitfish, jigs and a variety of other artificial and topwater lures.
There are many intricacies of fishing for Redfish but the key to catching Redfish is stealth. Let quiet and silent be the words of the day. Wading for Redfish works so well as it relies mostly on sightfishing and the angler rarely casts unless he actually sees the fish. There is much less motion for the fish to pick up and run from.
Sometimes currents, Sting Rays or other fish can kick up some mud from the bottom and along with the mud may be small crabs and shrimp so its always a good idea to check out any noticeable stirred up area. If you are just cruising an area and notice tailing Redfish you may consider trying for them the next day or so as Redfish do not tend to move to much if they don’t have to.
Whether flyfishing for Redfish or using ultra-light tackle, or poling a skiff or wading the flats for Redfish, it is certainly one of the most challenging and exciting types of inshore fishing you can do. Just make certain to check out the current regulations and slot limits before you go out on a wonderful Redfish Adventure.