Redfish are one of many game fish to catch along the Tampa, Clearwater, and West Coast areas of Florida. Reds can be found along the whole Gulf Coast and also up the Atlantic Coast, as far north as North Carolina.
The larger redfish are caught in the Atlantic with the world records going over 90 pounds. The red drum caught in the Tampa Bay area would be considered juvenile reds.
These fish invade the shallows flats for safety until maturity. Often they are taken in the same places as snook, trout and a host of other flats gamefish. As they grow, they will eventually move offshore to join with the larger spawning fish. Even though they are small compared to their seniors, they still are great tackle busters on light tackle. They range from 20 to 35 inches and there is incredible redfish fishing all over Florida, Tampa Bay and surrounding areas.
The state of Florida does have strict regulation on the specie. There is a slot limit ranging from 18 to 27 inches. These restrictions, along with the recent passing of the net band, has increased the population of the redfish. Respecting and following the laws used to protect these fish will insure the future population. Reds can be caught year round. These fish school up in large numbers on the shallow flats and around oyster bars. In the Tampa – Clearwater area, we have gin clear water that often provides the opportunity for actually sight-casting to your fish. Red drum can be caught on artificial baits and live baits. These baits consist of gold spoons, jigs and top water plugs. As for live bait, shrimp, pinfish and greenbacks work best. Our redfish fishing charters will give you the best chance to catch one.
Depending on what part of the country you are from you may hear this member of the drum family referred to as redfish, channel bass, red bass, spottail bass or red drum. What ever name you use the red drum (sciaenops ocellatus) is surely one of the most sought after game fish on the Gulf Coast. Redfish are found as far north as Maryland and Virginia. Prime areas are along the Gulf Coast waters in Florida and Texas.
The coppery color of the fish makes it obvious how the fish got it’s name. The coloration varies widely from regionto region. Some reds that live in Florida at the extreme southern tip are nearly white. While other fish that live in darker stained water are often a deep burnt copper color. Most redfish posses a single black spot near the base of their tail but there are occasionally there are reds caught with several spot. Reds with as many as 16 spot have been recorded.
Redfish begin their lives in brackish estuaries. They are bottom feeders that prefer mud and sand bottoms and eat a wide variety of small crustaceans and fish. Young redfish tend to congregate in large schools and are often referred to as puppy drum. These little fish are what the majority of coastal fishermen target and are great sport on light spinning tackle and fly rods.
Redfish move to deeper coastal waters as they grow larger and it is possible in certain parts of the country to target these large fish. Redfish live a long time some over 50 years. These old timers are a challenge to catch. The all tackle world record was 94 pounds 2 ounces caught off of North Carolina. Redfish that size is extremely rare but 40 pounders are not uncommon.
How To Catch Redfish
Redfish are caught on many different kinds of tackle. To catch redfish a 7 foot medium action spinning rod spooled with 8 to 10 pound test is the best choice. At times you will need to be able to cast a lightweight bait a good distance yet still need some power since the redfish are tough fighters. So medium action reds are a good compromise. Nine weight fly reds work will for the most redfish.
Fishing for redfish is basic fishing. Match your bait to the size of the bait fish in the area. Redfish don’t have sharp teeth but I do recommend a light leader such as a 20 pound test. Redfish have notoriously bad eyesight so accurate casting is a must.
Redfish like to congregate around oyster bars and mouths of creeks that have good tidal movement. Redfish are very spooky a stealth approach is highly recommend. A popular method for approaching redfish is with a push pole.