Fishing for Redfish in Florida (Quick How-To Guide)
Of all the sport fish species in the state of Florida, redfish might just be the most popular overall. For most anglers, red fishing in Florida is high on their bucket list for plenty of reasons. It's no surprise our Performance Redfish Shirt is one of our best sellers!
It’s not uncommon to catch dozens of redfish in a single outing when the bite is on. I consider fishing in Florida for reds to be one of the most exciting during the warm months. Especially when they are in the shallows near the shoreline.
Redfish, also known as red’s, channel bass, and red drum, are on every stretch of coastline in the state of Florida. Anglers from all over the world flock to the Sunshine State once the bite gets hot. In late autumn giant reds will viciously strike at almost anything in reach during this time. This is my favorite time to throw top-water lures.
During the colder months, redfish move out into the deeper channels (hence the name channel bass). Once you’ve fought and landed a trophy over 20 pounds, you’ll understand why this species of fish is atop the list of “favorites” for anglers of all skill levels and backgrounds.
Where to Find Redfish?
Most fishermen know redfish as a “shallow water” species because they are most often found in water less than 10 feet in depth. Great spots to look for and find reds are usually where rivers spill into the ocean, flats and marshes, oyster bars, and just about any bays or sounds in the state of Florida.
For experienced anglers who have targeted redfish for many years, it doesn’t take much investigation to quickly seek out where they are schooled up, and where to find huge redfish that will test your skill with a rod and reel.
During colder weather, you can usually bet that redfish will move away from the shore and venture into deeper channels and around reefs or shipwrecks. They will slowly move in closer to the shallows once the weather warms and you can count on the Grand Finale of red fishing to take place in late October, November, and December.
How to Fish for Reds?
Years ago, before heavy regulations, people would come to Florida from all corners of the United States and load their boats with redfish. We hail them as one of the tastiest species of game fish in the world and there are countless recipes on the best ways to filet and cook redfish.
It didn’t take long for people to realize that Florida’s natural population of redfish were being depleted by commercial fishermen to fulfill the high demand for redfish from the many seafood restaurants all over the southeastern United States.
One of the main reasons redfish became so scarce was the ease with which most anglers can catch huge numbers of reds in a short amount of time. You can catch redfish on live bait, artificial lures and sometimes probably a bare hook. Let’s inspect the best ways to catch redfish in Florida.
Artificial Lures for Redfish in Florida
Perhaps the most popular method of catching redfish in the Sunshine State is by using artificial lures during the late fall and early winter when they are nailing top-water and other types of bait in the shallows around the state.
Since redfish is a species of bass, you can’t go wrong using anything that remotely resembles a baitfish to catch reds, especially when they are in the shallows during the late season. A wide range of deep diving plugs can catch redfish that are hanging out in deep channels during the cold weather months, but you can also target them with nearly any kind of lure you want during the warmer months.
Plastic baits and jigs are effective on redfish just about any time of year. However, I and most anglers who fish for them think red fishing is most exciting when using top-water lures late in the year.
Redfish will annihilate anything that includes poppers, spoons, buzz baits and everything else top-water during the late season. This is the main reason they are such a popular fish for sportsmen to target.
There’s nothing like watching a giant redfish home in on a top-water plug and strike with amazing force and precision. Couple that with their surprising ability to bend a rod and yank off half a spool of line in no time and it will become clear why reds are the king of the shallow water fisheries in Florida.
Live Baits for Redfish in Florida
As you might expect, you can have plenty of success fishing for redfish in Florida using live bait. Reds will hit just about anything that normal shallow-water game fish go after such as live shrimp, minnows, and especially mullet.
Redfish are so easy to catch on live bait rigged just about any way you want. Novice anglers will find great success using any of the baits listed above.
If you plan to do some bottom fishing when redfish are deeper around reefs, you can catch them on a simple drop shot or bottom fishing rig with cut bait like mullet or cigar minnows.
Tips for Catching Red Drum in Florida
Most seasoned anglers know that there are some specific tips you’ll want to stick with for catching reds throughout the year and most will agree on a few tried-and-true methods.
- Stay with the tide as it pushes baitfish further in and out of the shallows.
- Fishing anytime near a full moon is always great.
- Look for areas where the baitfish are plentiful.
- Be quiet and stealthy. Large redfish have keen senses and will spook easily if you make too much noise and move in too quickly.
If you’re planning a trip to go red fishing in Florida soon, I hope these tips are useful to experience the rush of red fishing in the Sunshine State!
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